England this week moved to solve their Guinness Six Nations penalty-conceding problems by inviting Test level referees Wayne Barnes and Matthew Carley along to their training base in London ahead of next Saturday’s round four clash with France at Twickenham.

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Eddie Jones’ struggling English players conceded a combined total of 41 penalties in their three February matches, ruining their championship title defence with defeats to Scotland and Wales and an unimpressive win over hapless Italy.

England were due to be officiated this weekend by South African referee Jaco Peyper, but the pandemic resulted in a reshuffle which will now see Andrew Brace, last December’s Autumn Nations Cup final referee, take charge of this repeat Le Crunch fixture.

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In an effort to help England clean up their act, Barnes and Carley – who respectively refereed this year’s Wales-Ireland and Italy-France games in Cardiff and Rome – have visited The Lensbury to get them up to speed on the sport’s latest hotspots and iron out some kinks in their performances.

Attack coach Simon Amor has dubbed the duo’s involvement as very useful in the lead-up to the visit by the Grand Slam-chasing French to London. “We are really fortunate to have two of the best referees in the world in with us this week,” he said.

“It has been really useful in terms of having conversations with the players and on the pitch with our training, getting some proper referees in there to really have a look at that area. It has been a good experience. There have been good questions from the players, one-to-one conversations, team conversations as well. Wayne was very good at explaining how he prepares for a game and what he looks for as well so we can understand that. It has been a really good process.

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“All we can do is our best in terms of educating players and keep them growing and learning. None of the errors or penalties the guys give away are deliberate. They are trying to do their absolute best and we really want to play with physicality and intensity and be right on the edge and sometimes we tipped over it. It’s a good process for individual players, the team and the coaches.”

Switching to his own area of expertise, Amor claimed he was encouraged by how England attacked last time out in Cardiff even though they were ultimately defeated 40-24 by the table-topping Wales. “It was an encouraging performance.

“Where we were with Scotland we were well below our best, an improvement against Italy and then really pleased with how we found some of the opportunities to get on some inside shoulders, attack some of the gaps, keep the ball alive… that was really good (against Wales). 

“The ability for the backs to connect with the forwards was better. We still missed a good couple of opportunities there so it is still something that we can get a lot better on but the connections between forwards and backs, finding gaps, finding shoulders, a much more decisive intent with the carry through, it was a lot better.”

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