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OTD: England coaching duo banned by RFU over switching balls

By PA
Paul 'Bobby' Stridgeon worked with Jonny Wilkinson while at Toulon (Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / Getty Images)

Two members of England’s management team were suspended by the Rugby Football Union from the World Cup Pool B decider against Scotland on this day in 2011.

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Kicking coach Dave Alred and fitness specialist Paul Stridgeon were banned after they were found to have illegally switched balls during the 67-3 victory over Romania.

Both were spotted substituting balls before Jonny Wilkinson attempted several conversions, without being allowed to do so. Stridgeon was involved in the delivery of a chosen ball for the kicks, while Alred was on the touchline, suspected of planning the activity.

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

However, Alred and Stridgeon helped switched the ball Wilkinson was due to kick with on a number of occasions, without asking match referee Romain Poite.

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Following an internal RFU review, the pair were banned from entering Auckland’s Eden Park for their clash with Scotland, a week after the incident.

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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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