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Walsh: England demands answers

Wed, 20 Mar 2013 08:32
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We both agreed that we would go away and have a look at the game again
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England forwards coach Graham Rowntree is to seek "clarification" from the International Rugby Board regarding the performance of referee Steve Walsh in last Saturday's 3-30 defeat by Wales.

Rowntree - a former international prop - was especially annoyed by the way in which Walsh controlled the breakdown and the scrum.

Wales dominated both areas as they surged to a record win over England that saw them retain the Six Nations title and deny their arch-rivals a Grand Slam at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

England were repeatedly penalised at the scrum and Rowntree's mood is unlikely to be improved by reports suggesting Wales players later privately admitted they had collapsed the set-piece on six occasions.

And the Red Rose brigade also had complaints about the legality of the turnover that led to the first of two second-half tries for Wales' Alex Cuthbert - an incident England head coach Stuart Lancaster labelled the "tipping point" of the match.

Rowntree indicated the way in which Walsh oversaw the title-decider was at variance with what the referee had told him during the pre-match meeting and he would now be seeking an explanation from Joel Jutge, the French former Test referee who is now the IRB's referees' chief.

"I sat up on Saturday night and watched the game again forensically," said Rowntree. "I'm annoyed at a lot of the outcomes and I will be speaking to the IRB to get some clarification about it.

"With Joel Jutge now in charge of the IRB referees, he's very keen for an open forum and a very honest review process from the coaches and the referees.

"In most of the games I've submitted glowing reports on referees but on this occasion we were frustrated by a lot of the outcomes and I will be speaking to Joel to get some clarification [about the] breakdown and scrum.

"I spoke to Steve after the game. We both agreed that we would go away and have a look at the game again. Having watched it, I need clarification.

"A lot of those decisions were big, game momentum-changing decisions."

Some pundits criticised England for being insufficiently "streetwise" and not adapting quickly to Walsh's interpretations at the scrum where Wales props Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones had a field day.

However, Rowntree - who has repeatedly insisted he is not in the business of coaching any scrum 'tricks' - said: "I don't buy this whole 'streetwise' thing.

"We just want a clean outcome at the scrum, we don't practice anything different," he added.

There were widespread concerns voiced by Red Rose fans, if not team management, when they saw Walsh had been appointed to Saturday's key fixture because of his 'previous' with England that included a touchline row with fitness coach Dave Redddin at the 2003 World Cup.

New Zealand-born Walsh, 40 was sacked by the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2009 following his drunken arrival at a refereeing conference.

But he moved to Sydney where, having rebuilt his life, he resumed full-time refereeing under the banner of the Australian Rugby Union in 2011, taking charge of England's 19-12 World Cup quarter-final defeat by France in Auckland in October that year.

AFP

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