Cheika: England's scrum is the problem
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Australia coach Michael Cheika has fired back at Eddie Jones by insisting it is England rather than Australia who scrum illegally.
England boss Jones riled his native Australia by calling for a pre-match meeting with referee Jaco Peper ahead of Saturday's clash at Twickenham to discuss his concerns about the Wallabies' scrum.
But Cheika said Jones, once his teammate at Sydney club Randwick, had to get his own house in order after prop Dan Cole was sin-binned for collapsing a scrum during England's 27-14 win at home over Argentina last Saturday.
"I think the important thing there to note is that he's got to be looking at his own players because they're the ones who have a prop with a yellow card and that same prop's been infringing the law since his career started, probably if not all of this year," Cheika said Tuesday.
Cheika, in a thinly veiled reference to Cole's play during England's 3-0 series win in Australia in June, added: "It's up to the ref whether he gets influenced by that really after the guy's been boring in and falling down all of June in the series we played against them."
The Australia coach stressed his side scrummed correctly.
"We scrum square," he said. "We've got an Argentinian scrum coach and all we do is scrum square and try to get as much weight as possible."
Cheika added that Australia props Scott Sio and James Slipper had been undone at the scrum by Cole not because of any technical deficiencies of their own, but rather as a result of the England front row's illegal tactics.
"That's what happened to Scotty and James – Cole's experience in that way and turning in and pulling down just got the better of them and they weren't able to deal with it."
It is standard practice before an international for coaches to meet with a referee in order to get some idea of how a particular official will interpret Rugby Union's complex rulebook.
But Cheika said Jones, whom he had previously accused of being "vitriolic" towards Australia, the team he guided to a 2003 World Cup Final defeat by England in Sydney, now had a different attitude towards such encounters.
"It's funny how your tune changes because in the summer [June] when we asked for those meetings he [Jones] was blowing up, he stormed out of one," said Cheika.
Rugby Union is unusual in allowing coaches to meet with a referee in the lead-up to a Test match and Cheika questioned whether the practice should continue.
"I don't think the refs like those meetings anyway but they're the rules so we were only asking," he said.
"There's no other sport where a coach is meeting a referee the day before a game on their own.
"We sign a million integrity forms now at World Rugby and do courses, but I still don't understand how the referee meets the coach before the game on his own."
England head into Saturday's match on a 13-game unbeaten run, having won all 12 of their internationals under Jones since the former Japan coach took charge following last year's World Cup.
Australia, meanwhile, will be looking to recover from a 24-27 loss to Ireland in Dublin last Saturday that ended their hopes of emulating the 1984 Wallabies by completing a Grand Slam of wins over the Home Nations.