Leicester got back to winning ways on Saturday with a 30-23 home win over Sale Sharks but it seems the fallout from the match is likely to overshadow the performance.
Despite the victory, Tigers’ director of rugby Richard Cockerill looks to have got himself into hot water after he labelled the Sale front row and coaching staff “cheats” and the referee “clueless” about the scrum in his post match comments.
Cockerill said: “When sides just want to cheat it is tough.
“You have a Sale front row who are being coached to not take the engagement and walk backwards.”
“I want the opposition to stay square so we can push harder than them and we score.
“You watch Montpellier v Leicester where we had two scrums who wanted to push. It was a great contest. That today was an absolute debacle and hard for the referee.”
Not content at expressing his anger at Sale’s performance the former international hooker turned his scorn on referee Matthew Carley, who did award Leicester a penalty try late in the game after six resets.
Cockerill said: “I know the referee has got to learn, but with the scrums at the end I just sat there shaking my head.
“The gentleman doesn’t know what he is looking at. If Steve Diamond is coaching their front row to not take the engagement just to get a free kick and con the ref it is wrong and hard for the referee.
“The first thing about scrummaging is it has got to be coached well. The referee has to be stronger and send the bloke to the bin or get under the posts sooner.”
Sale Sharks director of rugby Steve Diamond responded angrily to the comments, responding: “Leicester should shut up, take the points and move on.”
Perhaps in this case Diamond is right, not about his side’s scrummaging abilities but about letting the issue rest.
Leicester were without Cockerill for the first nine games of the season after his outburst at officials in the Aviva Premiership grand final. His latest tirade could see him spend more time out of action on game day in 2014.
Cockerill’s former England teammate and BBC rugby pundit Brian Moore has the lead the call for the RFU and Premier Rugby, with runs the league, to ban the Leicester boss for his comments.
It is now a waiting game to see if further action is taken by the game’s ruling bodies.
Leicester made a bright start to the match on Saturday with Ed Slater crossing the whitewash after just two minutes.
The excellent play of young Welsh fly-half Owen Williams, in for the injured Flood, stretched the visitors and gave some composure to backline.
Adam Thompstone added a second try on 22 minutes. After the break Sale responded with tries from men of contrasting experience. The league’s record try scorer Mark Cueto crossed first before Charlie Ingall went over in just his second premiership appearance.
The penalty try for Leicester in the 73rd minute made the game safe after Sale had brought the deficit down to just three points.
Next up for Leicester is a key home match against Bath who have top four ambitions this season after making an impressive start to the season.
Leicester currently sit in fifth position but could leapfrog Bath with a bonus point win.
In other news
The Rugby Paper is reporting the deal to bring England fly-half Freddie Burns’ to Leicester as a replacement for Toby Flood is all but done and will be announced in the New Year.
The Gloucester fly-half, who has been dropped following a dip in form, has reportedly signed a three-year deal with Leicester.
Tigers club captain Flood announced last week that he will leave the club at the end of the season.
The fly-half is reportedly wanted by a host of clubs, with French Top 14 heavyweights Toulouse leading the fight to sign him.