England accused of go-slow tactics

England hooker Dylan Hartley rejects accusation of poor conditioning

“Why would we slow down a lineout . . . especially when we are chasing the game?” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

“Why would we slow down a lineout . . . especially when we are chasing the game?” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images


England’s heroic effort in the first Test against New Zealand in Auckland did not please everyone with local media blaming what they viewed as an orchestrated go-slow strategy on the tourists’ poor conditioning.

England hooker Dylan Hartley, unable to play last Saturday due to his involvement with Northampton in the Premiership final, has rubbishedthe claim.

“We were very competitive and I don’t think we played a slow game. We made more line-breaks than them,” he said. “Why would we want to slow down the game? Gone are the days of the stereotypes of a big, lazy English forward pack that relies on the scrum and maul.

“We’re not that forward pack any more, we’re a dynamic pack. We’ve got variation in our game, we’ve got ball-carriers, we’ve got handlers.

“Why would we slow down a lineout? Maybe we would have a huddle beforehand to get clarity on the call, but it’s not about slowing things — especially when we are chasing the game.”

Openside flanker Michael Hooper has been elevated to the Australian rugby team’s captaincy after hooker Stephen Moore was ruled out for the season due to a knee reconstruction.

The 22-year-old Hooper had been widely expected to take the role after Moore tore his anterior and medial cruciate ligaments in his left knee in the opening minute of the Wallabies’ 50-23 victory over France in Brisbane on Saturday.

Hooper, who had been appointed by coach Ewen McKenzie as one of his two vice-captains before the three-test series with France, led the side at Lang Park when Moore limped off.

“It’s a massive honour to captain your country and I’m confident Michael has all the right leadership qualities to lead this team moving forward,” McKenzie said in a statement.

“I couldn’t have been more impressed with his performance on the weekend after Stephen went down, so we know the added responsibility won’t impact the high-level of play we all expect from him each week.”

Hooper is McKenzie’s fourth test captain since he replaced Robbie Deans in the job less than a year ago. He dumped Queensland Reds captain James Horwill on the end of season tour last year and replaced him with loose forward Ben Mowen. Mowen was not considered for the squad this season, having elected to pursue his rugby career overseas at the finish of the ongoing Super Rugby season.

Moore then held the job for less than a week and his first test in charge lasted less than a minute, prompting Australia’s media to call the job a ‘poisoned chalice’ for players selected to the role.

South Africa have ruled out Stormers centre Juan de Jongh and uncapped Lions flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff for the first Test against Wales in Durban on Saturday.

De Jongh was hospitalized on Sunday night with a severe chest infection and is only likely to be discharged on Wednesday, the South African Rugby Union said on Monday. Boshoff has a grade one ankle strain and although the Springbok medical staff expect him to return to training later this week, he will not be considered for the King’s Park test.

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