Image:Rugby Union – England Training – Pennyhill Park, Bagshot, Surrey – 14/9/15 England’s Joe Marler during training Action Images via Reuters / Henry Browne
LONDON (Reuters) – The fires were stoked ahead of Saturday’s Six Nations clash between England and Wales at Twickenham as both sides accused each other of illegal scrummaging in the lead-up to the potentially decisive showdown.
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde said they would be highlighting the role of Joe Marler to South African referee Craig Joubert if the England prop did not scrummage legally.
The spotlight fell on Marler following the encounter between the fierce rivals at the Rugby World Cup in September, with a number of observers questioning the angle of his scrummaging after England’s 28-25 defeat.
“He (Marler) definitely needs to scrummage legally otherwise we will be pointing the finger,” said McBryde.
“There was a big focus on the loosehead’s angles going into the World Cup and that was highlighted to us with regards to Gethin (Jenkins) and Paul (James) and it’s something we focused on a lot.
“So it was very disappointing, especially in that England game, where we fell on the wrong side of decisions given against us.”
England coach Eddie Jones, however, returned the accusation and said Wales bent the rules to gain an advantage at the set-piece.
“They play the laws very well,” the Australian told the BBC. “They pre-engage (at the scrum) all the time, which is against the laws of the game.
“Then they get penalised one or two times at the start of the game, but the referee gets sick of penalising it. Because if the referee keeps penalising it, you know what happens? The referee gets criticised.
“We really want to have a scrum contest on Saturday — it’s an important part of the game — so we are really hopeful the referee enforces the law in that area.”
Victory for either side would put them firmly in the box seat to claim this season’s Six Nations title.
England top the table and lead Wales by a point having won their three opening matches. Wales’s draw with Ireland in their first game means they must avoid defeat on Saturday to stand any chance of taking the title.
(Reporting by Toby Davis; editing by Ed Osmond)
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