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7 Oct 23
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On This Day: England coaches suspended over ball-switching saga

DUNEDIN, NEW ZEALAND - SEPTEMBER 24: Players enter the pitch in front of The Webb Ellis cup ahead of the IRB 2011 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between England and Romania at Otago Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were found to have illegally switched balls during England’s 67-3 triumph over Romania on this day in 2011.


The pair were duly suspended by the Rugby Football Union from the Rugby World Cup Pool B match against Scotland.

The substitution of balls happened when fly-half Jonny Wilkinson was taking conversions. Stridgeon was involved in the delivery of a chosen ball for the kicks, while Alred was on the touchline, suspected of planning the activity.

Law 9.8.1 states the kicker must convert tries with same ball that was touched down, unless the referee agrees it is defective.


The pair failed to notify referee Romain Poite that they switched the balls and after an internal RFU review, the pair were banned from entering Eden Park for England’s 16-12 victory over Scotland.

An RFU statement read: “Those team management members took it upon themselves to substitute balls during the match in contravention of both the laws of the game and the spirit of the game.

“The RFU fully accepts that the action of those team management members was incorrect and detrimental to the image of the tournament, the game and to English rugby.


“The RFU has therefore decided to reprimand those team management members, to warn them as to their future conduct and to suspend them from participation in England’s next game, the match between England and Scotland.

“This suspension means that they will not be able to be in the stadium for that match in any capacity.”



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FEATURE 'Owen Farrell is another prophet railroaded out of his own land - who can replace him?' 'Owen Farrell is another prophet railroaded out of his own land - who can replace him?'