Eddie Jones slams Alun Wyn Jones’s behaviour during Scotland win
England coach accuses Welsh captain of compromising referee Gaüzère’s integrity
Eddie Jones: “Garcès won’t tolerate that sort of stuff. He won’t let Alun Wyn Jones referee the game.” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images)
Eddie Jones has lit the fuse before England’s Six Nations showdown with Wales by lashing out at Alun Wyn Jones, describing his behaviour against Scotland as “out of order” and revealing he has complained to World Rugby about the opposing captain.
The England head coach has taken issue with how his namesake appeared to urge the French referee Pascal Gaüzère to consult the television match official before allowing Finn Russell to convert Peter Horne’s consolation try. As a result, the Australian went on the offensive, hitting out at what he perceived to be “contrived behaviour”, and suggesting it compromised Gaüzère’s integrity.
“I thought that was right out of order,” Jones said. “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’ve said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly because we’ve got to respect the integrity of the referee.
“We’ve got one of the most difficult games to referee and the game only gets more complex. The players are bigger, faster, stronger – there are quicker decisions from the referee and if we don’t respect the integrity of the game we’re going to lose part of the game.”
Shortly before the Six Nations Championship began, World Rugby issued a number of directives for referees to focus on, including the kind of back-chat to officials prevalent in football. Jones perceived the Wales captain’s actions as “borrowed from another sport” – a thinly veiled reference to the directives – and did all he could to put the referee tomorrow, Jérôme Garcès, on alert.
“Garcès is a very experienced referee,” he said. “He’s got plenty of big-match experience, he knows how to handle interesting moments in games. He won’t let Alun Wyn Jones intimidate him. Garcès won’t tolerate that sort of stuff. He won’t let Alun Wyn Jones referee the game.”
Television replays of the incident appear to show that Gaüzère was already planning to consult the TMO before Alun Wyn Jones approached him. The Wales captain still appeared to call for a review and planted his left foot in front of the ball, thereby ensuring Russell could not kick at goal. Gaüzère awarded the try upon reviewing it, before Russell swiftly converted at the death of Wales’s 34-7 victory.
As captain, Alun Wyn Jones is within his rights to approach the referee and in the past Eddie Jones has previously lauded how well Dylan Hartley “manages officials”. During the autumn internationals there was a notable incident during England’s victory against Australia when Owen Farrell successfully remonstrated with the referee, Ben O’Keeffe, to ensure a Stephen Moore try was reviewed and subsequently disallowed.
At the time Eddie Jones said: “If the referee accepts the way he spoke to him was all right then that’s all right for me.”
Yesterday he conceded the practice of players urging referees to act is “starting to creep in” but was adamant Alun Wyn Jones crossed the line.
“All we say [to our players is] just to be respectful,” the Australian said. “At times players lose their cool. But that [from Alun Wyn Jones] was a contrived bit of behaviour.”
England’s head coach also suggested that Wales may seek to influence Garcès by “making some noise and creating issues” before the match, predicting their specific target would be the scrum.
“We expect [the Wales forwards coach] Robin McBryde to come out and talk about the scrum,” he said. “That is the moral state of affairs. I have that on my phone to have an alert when it comes out. But we have a great referee this week so we don’t have to worry about it. We just scrum – we elicited five penalties from Italy last week and that tells the story.”
Jones was speaking before Wales held their own press conference, at which McBryde did indeed refer to England’s scrum.