Farrell in the spotlight again over controversial tackle


World Rugby’s officiating protocols have come under fierce attack yet again this autumn as Australia were overwhelmed 37-18 by England at Twickenham.

England celebrated a successful series which culminated in a sixth successive victory over the Wallabies, but Owen Farrell was once more at the centre of attention for a no-arms tackle that went unpunished by referee Jaco Peyper.

Farrell used his shoulder to stop lock Izack Rodda as he neared the whitewash on the stroke of half-time, mirroring his challenge in the closing seconds of the opening Quilter International against South Africa which also went unpunished.

Sir Clive Woodward viewed it as a penalty try and Australia coach Michael Cheika was furious that the assistance of TMO Marius Jonker was not sought, branding the decision “ludicrous”.

Jones has learned to take the rough with the smooth this autumn, blessed by good fortune over Farrell’s risky tackle technique but lamenting the disputed TMO intervention against New Zealand.

On that occasion World Rugby protocol was broken when Jonker intervened to rule out a try for Sam Underhill on the grounds of a borderline offside, prompting Jones to later state he would never attend another referees’ meeting.

England v New Zealand – Quilter International – Twickenham Stadium
Sam Underhill had a crucial try disallowed against the All Blacks (Mike Egerton/PA)

Meanwhile, England can look ahead to the World Cup with renewed purpose after overcoming the disappointment of a fifth-place finish in the Six Nations and 2-1 series defeat in South Africa.

“We’d had a tough Six Nations. We’d got some things wrong in planning, some things wrong in terms of where we were going as a team and we needed to regroup and we did that,” Jones said.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted in South Africa but in terms of the togetherness of the team, how we want to go forward, this series was a step forward and the 2019 Six Nations will be another step forward again.”

Eddie Jones' England have been on both sides of poor officiating this autumn
Eddie Jones’ England have been on both sides of poor officiating this autumn (Adam Davy/PA

“It’s not about playing against Australia. It’s about us. I love coaching England and love English players. It’s about us getting better as a team,” Jones said.

“It wouldn’t matter if we were playing Argentina or Afghanistan , all we want to do is play a good rugby. I’ve got no interest in just beating Australia or having a good record against Australia.”

Jones sympathises with his former Randwick team-mate Cheika, however, amid speculation Down Under that the Australia Rugby Union is too impoverished to sack its head coach.

Wales v Australia – Autumn International – Principality Stadium
Michael Cheika’s position is under scrutiny (David Davies/PA)

“Ireland and New Zealand – particularly Ireland – show that if you have a centralised system for a small player pool, you can be a very good team and consistent.

“Australia doesn’t have that and that is what they need. And that advice is for free.”


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