Eddie Jones is never shy of stirring the pot ahead of an England international and aside from describing the Ireland side that is coming to Twickenham as a United Nations XV, he has also put some heat on Saturday’s Autumn Nations Cup referee Pascal Gauzere. 

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The Frenchman was an assistant referee last week in Dublin when Ireland got their campaign off to a winning start against Wales. He now takes over the whistle from Mathieu Raynal, who will be an assistant along with Alexandre Ruiz in London. 

Ireland enjoyed dominance at the breakdown and in the scrum against the Welsh, winning a number of penalties, but Jones has moved to plant a seed in the French official’s mind by mentioning the need for the referee to be strong when adjudicating those two key areas where the Irish excelled last Friday.   

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England’s Tom Curry looks ahead to the breakdown battle versus Ireland

“The scrum contest is always challenging against Ireland,” said Jones, whose team have so far clinched the Six Nations title with a win over Italy and beaten Georgia in round one of the Nations Cup since they resumed playing.

“We have got a referee on the weekend who generally doesn’t reward the dominant scrum so it will be interesting to see how he looks at that area. We’ll need to be adaptable to his calls on it. 

Gauzere was in charge of that October 31 win over the Italians in Rome but it wasn’t all plain sailing for England as the penalty count was 13-all and it wasn’t until the closing stages that they pulled away on the scoreboard. England managed to win three scrum penalties off Italy but they were penalised on five occasions at the ruck, twice at the lineout, twice more at the maul, with the rest being on-the-ground infringements. A dozen of those penalties were against forwards.

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Gauzere’s previous England appointment prior to Rome was the narrow February win over Scotland. “There is no use scrummaging if you can’t get a result out of it. But they [Ireland] have got a good scrum. (Cian) Healy has played 100 caps at loosehead so he has got to be hugely respected,” he continued before giving his opinion on Ireland tighthead Andrew Porter.

“He has done really well. He has taken to Test rugby well, scrums in a fairly unusual way which may need some referee intervention so we’ll wait and see. I’ll leave that up to the referee.” 

Jones also made mention of the French ref when teeing up the battle of the back rows, England’s Tom Curry, Sam Underhill and Billy Vunipola up against Ireland’s CJ Stander, Peter O’Mahony and Caelan Doris. “They [Ireland] are the best poaching team in Europe, the highest poaching team in Europe. Guys like CJ Stander and Peter O’Mahony, they are both really good at the contest. We have got a referee that favours the contest, so that is going to be a real battle. 

“It’s a different Irish side. We are not sure what they are going to bring to the table. They have picked a heavy back row. Normally they pick more of a fetcher in there so that may allude to how they are going to play. We’ll just have to wait and see.”

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