Former England captain Dylan Hartley has revealed the “tactic” his successor Owen Farrell was given last weekend – to not talk to the referee Andrew Brace.
Eddie Jones’ side ended France’s Grand Slam hopes at Twickenham in round four of the Guinness Six Nations, playing at a level they had not previously reached this year.
One noticeable change was England’s discipline against Les Bleus. Though their penalty count was still in double figures, twelve, and only two fewer than it was against Wales, that was perhaps a product of the intensity and tempo of the contest at Twickenham.
England did eradicate the needless and sloppy infringements that were littered across their opening three rounds and ultimately cost them the match against Wales.
Joining Christina Mahon, Ryan Wilson and Neil Back on RugbyPass Offload, Hartley said England’s discipline was previously “killing them” and that the team knew “internally that it was an issue”.
He also shed some light on this approach by Farrell last Saturday, which was possibly adopted after accusations that he fell out of favour with referee Pascal Gaüzère at the Principality Stadium, chiefly after Wales’ controversial first try.
“Refs will be looking for it now,” Hartley said when discussing England’s notoriously high penalty count.
“There’s a big story about England’s indiscipline so refs’ senses are heightened, touch judges are looking for it. They’ve almost got to go the other way and be whiter than white, clearer than clear that they’re onside and they’re rolling away and they’re talking to the ref, they’re chirping away all game.
“What I’ve found really interesting, and none of us knew this until post-match, Owen Farrell didn’t speak to the ref during the game. He was ordered to not speak to the ref, which I thought was very interesting.
“I wouldn’t call it an order, a tactic maybe.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 20, 2021
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