Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Physical Element Crucial; James Can't See Problem with Tackles

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Physical Element Crucial; James Can't See Problem with Tackles

Article excerpt

JAMES Fitzpatrick has rubbished suggestions that his Newcastle Falcons side have gone overboard in their physical approach to the game, writes MARK SMITH.

Last Friday's 9-9 draw with Aviva Premiership leaders Harlequins saw three Falcons players cited, with visiting coach Conor O'Shea lashing out at Samoan international Taiasina Tu'ifua in his post-match interview.

The flank-forward will join Rob Vickers and James Hall in front of the RFU disciplinary panel a week on Monday for his tackle on Luke Wallace, with Fitzpatrick defiant that the physical element must remain a part of rugby's fundamental make-up.

"It is a contact sport, and you cannot cite a bloke for making a good tackle," said the centre, himself no stranger to the abrasive approach.

"During the game you don't really see everything, but I saw Tai make a few cracking hits and we were all congratulating him because they were great tackles.

"I watched it back on TV afterwards and, to be honest, I thought he was spot-on. I can't see what the problem is for him to get cited, and I was surprised when I heard he had been." Selected TV replays and the public proclamations of O'Shea all combined to help overshadow a performance which showed the Falcons' fighting spirit in taming the league leaders.

Fitzpatrick said: "It was not a bad result in hindsight, especially when you consider we did not concede a single try against the top-of-the-table team who had been scoring for fun previously. We knew they had a dangerous back-line, and that depriving them of territory and possession was going to be so important. They had a big pack on the night, and really it was a case of having to bully the bully. I think we did that pretty well, and even with the disappointment of them nicking a draw at the end it was still a performance we could be proud of. …

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