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Debate over Murrayfield scrum finale is still raging days later

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Days after the result-confirming series of clock-in-the-red scrums at Murrayfield and the debate over whether England should have been awarded a penalty by referee Ben O’Keeffe rumbles on with sub prop Joe Marler the latest to join in. Trailing 17-20, added time in last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener in Edinburgh saw the visitors attempt to wrangle an infringement from Scotland at the set-piece.      

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The Kiwi official wasn’t buying it, however, and the ball was eventually played away from the base of the umpteenth reset scrum. England were to go on and lose the ball at a resulting breakdown and possession was kicked dead by Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg to confirm his team’s win.

Loosehead Marler was at the coalface for England in that nerve-shredding conclusion, repeatedly packing down against Scottish sub tighthead WP Nel, and while his focus now is most certainly on his team’s round two clash next Sunday away to Italy, he still took time at an RFU media briefing to reflect back on one of the major talking points to arise from the Murrayfield loss.

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“Yes, I did fancy our chances of getting a penalty,” admitted Marler, who played 17 minutes as a second-half England replacement for Ellis Genge

“I was disappointed with at least one of them which I thought on another day might have been given, but I am also very aware of the situation that we were all in. 

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“It was a very high pressured situation, there was a lot on that call and I can understand that unless someone is being presented a completely and utterly dominant picture they would be less inclined to give the penalty. I’d have liked a penalty. It might have given us an opportunity to draw or win the game but such is life, we tried our best and we will take the learnings from that.” 

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Asked if the penalty he felt England merited would have been given if that same scrum had taken place earlier in the game, Marler added: “Again, hindsight is wonderful. My gut tells me it might have been a penalty 20 minutes in but it was the 83rd minute and there is a lot riding on that.” 

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