Eddie Jones has failed to convince World Rugby that Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones tried to influence referee Pascal Gauzere and the England coach been warned his verbal attack could back-fire at Twickenham on Saturday.
Jones has claimed the Wales captain tried to stop a conversion after Scotland scored in their 34-7 loss in Cardiff last weekend by standing over the ball after approaching the referee. However, Standard Sport understands that when Jones raised the issue with World Rugby, the sport’s governing body, he was told the player had not influenced the experienced referee because he was already talking to the television match official to check if Peter Horne’s try was legal.
Jones had a different view and said: “I thought that was right out of order. When he tried to stop the referee from allowing the kick at goal … we can’t have that in the game. I really hope World Rugby don’t allow that to creep into the game. I have said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly because we’ve got to respect the integrity of the referee.”
Jones, who is trying to guide England to an historic third successive Six Nations title, has received widespread criticism for his attack with Sir Clive Woodward claiming it will only rile the Welsh heading into tomorrow’s clash at Twickenham and could come back to “haunt” him. However, Jason Robinson, the former England captain, believes Jones has cleverly put the spotlight on Alun Wyn Jones and how the lock deals with the referee.
England forwards coach Neil Hatley today defended Jones and insisted they were right to question the Welsh captain’s actions against Scotland and denied it would wind up the opposition. He said:” I don’t think it is necessarily winding up – we are highlighting key players. I think were within our rights to ask the question to World Rugby and they have come back with clarification that the referee was in constant communication with the TMO and so it is not an issue. I don’t think it will backfire.”
Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail; “I had England down as strong favourites but Eddie’s comments can only make the game more volatile and unpredictable. Warren Gatland and Shaun Edwards will love this. It was a moment for Eddie to take the high ground, be statesmanlike. It was not the moment for a rant. Lose and they could come back to haunt Eddie.”
World Cup winner Robinson believes Jones’s comments will put the way the Wales captain acts under close scrutiny with the crowd likely to react when he approaches the referee. Robinson has been waiting for Jones to enter into a verbal spat with the opposition in the Six Nations and said:” It never seems a good idea to wind up the opposition before a big game but Eddie has been quiet for a bit and he is certainly stirring the pot with his comments. It is a war of words and a little bit of psychology. I get what Eddie is doing and everyone will be watching Alun Wyn Jones.”