Jack Willis injury latest: Flanker tweets 'I will be back', has NOT ruptured ACL but 'crocodile roll' ban still called

Jack Willis injury latest: Flanker tweets 'I will be back', has NOT ruptured ACL but 'crocodile roll' ban still called

JACK WILLIS has received good news on his knee injury following an examination on Sunday.

Wasps head coach Lee Blackett said: "It's pretty serious. But at this moment in time it looks like he has not done his ACL.

"He will spend a long time out, I should imagine."

Blackett also had his say on calls to ban the so-called crocodile roll, claiming it is unlikely Willis himself would want the action outlawed.

Sebastian Negri, the Italian who carried out the action, has taken to Twitter to apologise for his part in Willis' injury.

Meanwhile in better news for the family, brother Tom Willis scored the winning in Wasps' match at Worcester on Sunday.

  • Alex Terrell

    MORE WILLIS

    The Wasps flanker has promised to get on with his rehab with the long road back to fitness ahead.

  • Alex Terrell

    I WILL BE BACK

    Jack Willis has tweeted for the first time since his injury on Saturday.

    He said: "I’m truly gutted with the way it ended on Saturday but these things happen."

  • William Pugh

    The next few days, weeks and months can be a lonely, tough and depressing period for any player — especially when you see your mates out there training and playing, you don’t feel part of it.

    Since it happened, there has been a lot of clamour regarding rule changes to the roll-type clear-out in regard to player welfare.

    It is easy to get caught up in the emotion of an incident like this but something needs to be addressed by the powers that be — and quickly.

    It needs to be looked at. But there could be a danger that if this clear-out, alongside clamping down on shoulder- charge clear-outs, the jackaller would be at an advantage in the ruck contest.

    Do we want more attacking rugby? Of course.

    However, teams also now have virtually all their players able to jackal to win turnovers — not just the back row and centres of yesteryear — which means at each breakdown there is the threat of being turned over.

  • William Pugh

    NICK EASTER COLUMN – EXCL

    Sunday was Valentine’s Day and I have no problem admitting my love affair with Jack Willis.

    He is one of my favourite England players right now — and I would have liked to have seen him start against Italy at No 8.

    He made an immediate impact when he came on, scoring a try in Saturday’s 41-18 win at Twickenham, but what followed was horrific.

    The result of a ‘crocodile roll’ from Sebastian Negri looks to be a serious knee injury. You fear the worst after such a nasty-looking one — I just hope he doesn’t turn out to be another Tom Rees.

    Rees, who also played for Wasps in the back row, had a very bright future and could have been captain of England if it were not for injuries.

    Willis is the real deal, so I just hope that with the ever-improving modern sports medicine and rehabilitation, he will make a full recovery…

  • William Pugh

    Doyle continued: "Then players got more flexible.

    "Jack is a perfect example of that. He does so much stretching and is so supple that players can only remove him from the ball by twisting him to the ground. When a leg gets stuck, as it did on Saturday, you have problems.

    "You would not have crocodile rolls if attacking sides committed more players to rucks. Take the Matt Dawson show-and-go before Jonny Wilkinson’s drop-goal in 2003. Three players just blasted over and Neil Back moved it away.

    "If you ban the crocodile roll, attackers would adopt that low position and blast over. If you ban the jackal, you are looking at continuous possession – teams keeping the ball for 80 phases.

    "Either way, how would a defence get the ball back? Ripping it away in tackles?

    "Defences would definitely not commit anyone to rucks, so you would have 14 or 15 on their feet most of the game. I am not sure anyone wants that."

  • William Pugh

    DO WE OR DOYN'T WE?

    Former international referee JP Doyle thinks banning crocodile rolls would lead to more players on their feet in rugby union – a prospect he is not sure everyone wants.

    He also said stricken Jack Willis is one of the best players he has ever refereed.

    Doyle told the Telegraph: "In one game against London Irish a while back, I gave Jack Willis seven holding-on penalties. He was just brilliant. I would say he and Tom Rees are the best players I have ever refereed. What happened to him on Saturday was just horrible luck.

    "'Croc roll’ and ‘tin opener’ are terms coined by coaches. They can sound bad. But the reason they have become accepted is because the breakdown is a numbers game. You need to understand the whole story and the evolution of it.

    "Previously, it was bend, bind, blast. Jim Telfer spoke about getting low and under the net. As fewer and fewer attackers joined rucks, wrestling and judo techniques took over.

    "Of course, if these twists go wrong, there are big injuries like knee and ankle ligament tears. Paul O’Connell ripped his hamstring off the bone against France at Rugby World Cup 2015 while jackalling – hyperextending his leg as two opponents cleared him…

  • William Pugh

    WHAT'S THE MATT-ER WITH THEM?

    Dawson also questioned England's attacking coaching after they looked flat against the Italians.

    Writing in his BBC column, the Question of Sport captain said: "England had so many opportunities against Italy but they made hard work of it. There does not seem to be an attacking instinct about them.

    "A lot of the time their tries and line breaks came from forwards who were offloading – Courtney Lawes, Kyle Sinckler and Maro Itoje – or there was a bit of brilliance from Watson.

    "England do not seem to be able to run the lines and fool the opposition so that there is a lovely clean line break. They seem to be quite predictable.

    "I am not convinced they are being coached well enough in their sessions day to day. They have got attack coach Simon Amor, who was a world-class sevens player and no doubt has a fantastic ability to coach skills.

    "Does he have the knowledge to be coaching a team how to play 15-a-side attacking rugby at this level? I am yet to be convinced of that."

  • William Pugh

    NOT FAR ME

    Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson says Owen Farrell is holding England back.

    The World Cup winner said in his BBC column: "Owen Farrell is an England great but right now it is as if he does not fit in the side's attacking structure.

    "During Saturday's win against Italy, you could tell the England captain was rattled.

    "Whatever is going on in his rugby life, he is under pressure. You could see it at times when he was talking to the referee.

    "Farrell was scrapping, fighting and was lucky he was not punished for a late tackle on Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney. He is on the edge. He will not like it, but we have all been there and it has got to be recognised by selection.

    "It does not mean Farrell is not going to be a world-class player, but there just needs to be a bit of coaching and training – maybe away from the side. Something needs to happen, because it is holding England back."

  • William Pugh

    OPINION SPLITTER

    But then again, not everyone was quite so sure.

  • William Pugh

    CROC OFF

    There have been widespread calls for crocodile rolls to be banned after Jack Willis' injury.

    But not everyone online has backed the argument suggesting injuries are just part of the game.

  • sstreet

    ROARING BACK

    Jack Willis has been backed to return stronger from the knee injury picked up against Italy.

    The flanker has already come back once from an ACL injury picked up in 2018.

    And fortunately this time around, Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has revealed that he has not ruptured his ACL.

  • sstreet

    UPS AND DOWNS

    It's been one extreme to another throughout Jack Willis' Six Nations campaign.

    Terrible to see what happened to him yesterday, just minutes after he scored a debut England try.

  • sstreet

    'QUITE EMOTIONAL'

    Wasps head coach Lee Blackett says he was "quite emotional" speaking to Jack Willis after his injury.

    Talking ahead of today's win at Worcester, he said: "[I've spoken to him] Briefly through text.

    "It’s one of those, it’s quite emotional, you’ve seen Jack obviously for the last few years come back from his last one, just on the verge of England there, gets himself in this time and it looked a nasty one.

  • sstreet

    RUCK-ING HELL

    Jack Willis' injury has led to calls for the crocodile roll to be banned, but Nigel Owens claims Sebastian Negri's clearout on Willis is already outlawed under existing rules.

    He commented: "The game needs to do more to stop the 'crocodile rolls' that led to the injury to Jack Willis.

    "The law is pretty simple. It is illegal to wilfully collapse a ruck and you must join no lower than your hip.

    "You cannot target someone's knees. Teams have been using judo coaches to teach players how to roll people away from the contact area. That should not be allowed.

    "It is similar to the scrum feed, they are worse than they have ever been but we let them go because that's how rugby is played and refereeing has to be consistent.

    "We need to go back to refereeing the law. It is illegal to collapse a ruck. It is illegal to enter it below hip height.

    "That would stop crocodile rolls like this happening, which will stop horrific injuries like this one."

  • sstreet

    MAY DAY

    Were it not for Jack Willis' horrific injury, the talk of the England vs Italy game would have been Jonny May's spectacular leap to score in the first half.

    But former referee Nigel Owens says the try should have been ruled out!

    The Welshman commented: "The law states you can't jump in the air with the ball into a tackle or to avoid one — but you can get airborne to reach out to score a try.

    "I've watched the incident again and May clearly jumps to avoid a tackle first, and only then does his momentum take him over the try line.

    "It was a tough decision but he jumped to avoid the tackle, not to score the try. You can't do that.

    "Jumping in the air with the ball to avoid a tackle is not allowed because it means no one can tackle you.

    "Had the Italy player tackled him while airborne, it would have been interesting to see what the referee would have done.

    "Would he have given a penalty try and a yellow card? In my opinion, it's not a try."

  • sstreet

    'STOP THE CHAT'

    Legendary former referee Nigel Owens has called on England captain Owen Farrell to stop backchatting referees, claiming he never did it to him.

    Owens wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "There was too much chat from him to the referee. That must stop.

    "He never did that with me. Every time I referee, I tell the players that there is a time and a place for conversation.

    "If they want to discuss something, they have to do it in the right manner. That is one of the game's values.

    "I never have any issues with Owen. Whenever I reffed him, he was always polite. He knew where the line was and never crossed it.

    "That shows he can do it. It is up to the referees to keep strong and stay on top of things like that. We don't want to see it creeping in."

  • sstreet

    JOY OF SIX

    French Sports Minister Roxana Maracineanu expressed her joy at France's narrow win over Ireland in the Six Nations.

    She tweeted: "An enormous match and victory that counts.

    "Bravo Les Bleus for this success against Ireland.

    "This team has talent and temperament."

  • sstreet

    'JUST HORRIBLE'

    Italy's Sebastian Negri took to Twitter to apologise after his challenge in the ruck led to Jack Willis' knee injury.

    The Azzurri lock wrote: "A quick message to Jack Willis. So sorry about what happened yesterday.

    "Just horrible and never nice to see. Myself and all the @Federugby boys are wishing you all the best.

    "I hope to see you back on the field again soon. Take care and we all know you will be back stronger."

  • William Pugh

    'ANOTHER ONE THAT GOT AWAY'

    It was the same old story for Ireland against France, Andy Farrell admitted.

    He said: "We had regrets after the Wales game, and we have regrets now. The dressing-room is gutted.

    "We want to win games, and we want to win home games, but it wasn’t there.

    "Our game management wasn’t good at times, and especially in the third quarter of the match.

    "The players on the pitch did really well. We can ask for no more from them than they gave in this game.

    “It’s about the W’s and the L’s (wins and losses) and so far that is not working for us.”

  • William Pugh

    AS IT STANDS

    That win takes France to the top of the Six Nations table on points difference after two wins from two.

    Ireland are still yet to win a game in this years tournament, and have just two losing bonus points to show for their efforts.

  • sstreet

    OUT-FLANKED

    Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has suggested that his flanker Jack Willis would not want the crocodile roll to be banned, despite the action from Italy's Sebastian Negri seriously injuring the England star yesterday.

    Blackett said: "So really do we look at the head first, do we look at the limbs?

    "I understand it's quite difficult for the people that make these decisions and how difficult it can because where does it stop?

    "Do we stop the jackaller? Probably the one person who's got this injury probably is the one person who might not want the jackaller to banned!

    "It's such a difficult topic and I feel for the guy, it's easy to make just a passing comment but there's a lot that actually goes on with it."

  • sstreet

    SHIFTING ZANDS

    Wasps head coach Lee Blackett has refused to add his name to calls for the crocodile roll to be banned, despite the horrific injury suffered by his flanker Jack Willis.

    Blackett praised rugby's decision to deal with high challenges in clearing out the ruck, as was the case with Zander Fagerson's red card for Scotland against Wales.

    But he suggested that if the law were to also deal with moves like the crocodile roll that would give too little leeway to players trying to clear out the ruck.

    He said: "It's difficult isn't it the first thing you coach as a coach would be win the space, so get there before the jackaller gets there as a cleaner.

    "And then next you're taught if they win the speed to the breakdown you talk about them winning the high battle and getting underneath the head and you go to Fagerson yesterday and then you're going into dodgy territory.

    "Because you're trying to win the head battle, getting underneath and before you know it you're risking injury to the head.

    "Once you lose that you're trying to get underneath and trying to take limbs whether that's arm or leg but then you've got to be careful cause the only space you might get into might be round the side and before you know it."

  • William Pugh

    ANDY'S ANALYSIS

    These are the full time thoughts of Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.

    He said: "It's very hard, you tend to either over-analyse a game straight after a game [or under-analyse].

    "I suppose you need to take stock and calm down a little bit.

    "You can take a lot out of the positives but at the same time we had probably an opportunity to win the game and we came up short in the end."

  • William Pugh

    RAPHAEL'S REVIEW

    France team manager Raphael Ibanez has this to say at full time:

    "We're obviously very pleased with the win.

    "It was a hard fought win away from home so it's a big relief for the boys."

  • Daniel Brookes

    FT: IRELAND 13-15 FRANCE

    France survive a spirited Irish comeback to make it two wins from two in the 2021 Six Nations.

    Meanwhile for Ireland it's back to the drawing board after two losses in the row to start the tournament.

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