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'Unsportsmanlike ' - Controversial scenes as England and Argentina stall play

By Ian Cameron
Argentina and England appear to both benefit from stalling play.

There were controversial scenes in Toulouse today as England and Argentina Sevens players found themselves in a bizarre situation, with both sides appearing to agree to delay the scoring of a try.

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The two sides met in the pool stage of Day 2 at the HSBC France Sevens and found themselves in a controversial stand-off due to the mathematics of the tournaments and some frankly cynical opportunism on either side’s part.

Halfway through the second-half England’s Will Homer broke free and began sprinting to the Argentinian try line but when he reached it, he refused to dot the ball down, as he was eager to eat up time on the clock.

It’s a common practice in Sevens, but the problem was that the Argentinians were also happy for the clock to run down, as they wanted to protect a points margin that would see them through to the quarter-finals.

With England only needing to lose by less than 16 points, both teams were set to benefit from the clock running down.

“Unique. Bizarre. Controversial,” wrote the official World Rugby Sevens Twitter account. “Time seems to stand still in Toulouse as England deliberately delay scoring the try that takes them through to the quarter-finals – and Argentina, down to six men and also going through, let them.”

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“It might be gamesmanship, but this is the laws,” remarked commentator Rob Vickerman.”Quite remarkable scenes.”

Many fans weren’t impressed, with some calling for England and Argentina to be banned as a result of the scenario, while others suggested that it bordered on match fixing.

Journalist Paul Tait suggested the referee could have stepped in. “England should have been penalized. The referee knows better. Law 9.7.d wasting time. Law 9.27 against the spirit of good sportsmanship.”

EK Rugby Analysis wrote: “Obviously don’t like seeing this. Rationally, it makes sense for England and Argentina as they both go through while conserving energy – Sevens is exhausting to play. There should be something like a 30s time limit to score though similar to conversions and pens.”

It’s been a rare tournament to date with plenty of upsets so far. Men’s Series title contenders South Africa, Argentina and Australia are all beaten on day one in France.

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