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England flyhalf George Ford isn't happy about his charge-down

By PA
Referee, James Doleman talks to George Ford of England during the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between England and Wales at Twickenham Stadium on February 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)

George Ford insists goalkickers will be compelled to modify their routines after he was the victim of a controversial refereeing decision in England’s Guinness Six Nations victory over Wales on Saturday.

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Ford was lining up the conversion of Ben Earl’s 20th-minute try and having taken a small step left as part of his pre-kick ritual, wing Rio Dyer came racing off the line to prevent him from completing it.

England’s fly-half looked to James Doleman to intervene in his favour, but the Kiwi referee instead told him that his movement meant Wales were free to charge down the kick.

World Rugby later clarified that the relevant law, updated in 2020, dictates that movement in “any direction” enables the defending side to begin their run.

Ford was left bemused by Doleman’s decision, which could have been decisive in an ebb-and-flow game that England won by only two points.

“It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m trying to use the full shot-clock time as we’ve got men in the (sin) bin,” Ford said, with Ollie Chessum and Ethan Roots both having been off the field at the time.

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“You’re at the back of your stance, you have your routine, and if adjusting your feet like that is initiating your run-up then…

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“Some of us kickers are going to have to stand like statues at the back of our run-up now.

“As a kicker you want to get a feel and sometimes you don’t quite feel right at the back of your run-up, so you adjust it a bit and think ‘right, I’ve got it now’. You want your chest to be at the ball and all those things.

“What it means for us kickers is that we’ve got to be ultra diligent with our setup and process because if they’re going to go down that route and look for stuff like that, we can’t afford that.”

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