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Jones takes swipe at referee Raynal but it's not over the red card

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

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England boss Eddie Jones has taken a swipe at referee Mathieu Raynal for the way he officiated the scrum in Saturday’s 32-15 Guinness Six Nations defeat to Ireland. Despite the second-minute red-carding of Charlie Ewels and the concession of a penalty at the game’s first scrum, the English pack – which responded to Ewels’ expulsion by shifting Courtney Lawes into the second row and having winger Jack Nowell packing down at flanker – flourished as they went on to win a half-dozen penalties and a free-kick.

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However, Jones took issue with the lack of an advantage being played to allow England to create while he was also miffed that no Ireland prop was yellow carded for the set-piece malaise they had to endure against a home-team eight that also lost Tom Curry to injury and Kyle Sinckler to concussion.

“I am a bit disappointed the ref didn’t allow us to scrum fully,” claimed a frustrated Jones in the aftermath of a match where a defiant England were ultimately stuffed four tries to nil to see their title hopes extinguished heading into next weekend’s round five match away to the Grand Slam-chasing France.

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“That would be my only complaint, and we weren’t allowed to play advantage away from the scrum. We got four scrum penalties and there was no sign of a yellow card. So we want to have a powerful scrum and if World Rugby want to have the scrum in the game they have got to allow strong scrums to dominate. We’re disappointed we didn’t get more out of that.”

Switching to the 82-second Ewels red card for his head-to-head contact with Ireland’s James Ryan and the main injuries worries that England suffered, Jones added: “He [Ewels] is disappointed but no one apportions blame on him.

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“It was a genuine attempt to make a good tackle, his head was just in the wrong spot and we have got no questions about the red card. Sinckler has got concussion, so he will go through all the protocol, and Tom Curry is looking a bit worse for wear. I don’t think he will be starting in the next game.”

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Queried on what ex-England coach Clive Woodward had to say about a match that was tied at 15-all on 61 minutes before the powerful Irish bench helped to swing the result in their favour, Jones frostily replied: “I don’t really care what he says, mate, but I am happy to talk about the game.”

This Jones did, talking up the efforts of the England pack which sounded odd as they had just lost a must-win Test game by 17 points in their own backyard but it also sounded plausible as well as they had to play 78 minutes a man down.

“Great spirit, great tactical discipline. We got to 15-all and there was about 15 to go. We are controlling the game and we just made a couple of mistakes that allowed them into the game, but it is a great learning experience for this team. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

“They are a young team and the older guys like Courtney and (Ellis) Genge and Jamie George led beautifully and the young guys adapted really well and they will learn a lot from it.

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“I see that as a foundation game for us where we set out our campaign for the World Cup in 2023. Their spirit, determination, the ability to work through problems was absolutely outstanding.

“Really good when you consider we lost Sinckler, we lost Curry, we lost Ewels, we have got (Jonny) Hill on the sideline, we have got (Sam) Underhill on the sideline. There is a lot of blokes to come back and compete for the spots in the team. This pack is only going to get better and better.

“We want to be an old-fashioned England pack and a new-fashioned England the way we attack and we are moving in a really solid progression towards that and you can see how much the players are enjoying it and you can see how much they want to play for each other. There were 82,000 people there tonight that loved to see the spirit of the team.”

Skipper Lawes added: “I’m incredibly proud of the boys. We got pretty excited when the challenge was presented to us. That just shows you where we are at as a group and I don’t think for a minute we ever game up. We can take loads out of that game. There are bits and bobs we can learn from but for the most part, we did everything we said we wanted to do – that was to play for each other and give it everything we have got.

“It’s tough work in the row, I am not going to lie. Obviously, I can play second row and Jack is made to be a flanker, so we were fine in the scrum.”

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