England and Scotland told to explain tunnel bust-up

Owen Farrell was involved in a fracas before the Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield

Owen Farrell was allegedly involved in a tunnel bust-up between England and Scotland players before the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Owen Farrell was allegedly involved in a tunnel bust-up between England and Scotland players before the Calcutta Cup at Murrayfield. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

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England and Scotland must explain their roles in the tunnel bust-up involving Owen Farrell shortly before the Calcutta Cup match on Saturday, raising the possibility of disciplinary action against the England centre.

It is understood Farrell was the subject of provocation and did not instigate the fracas, during which he and Scotland’s No 8 Ryan Wilson had to be separated by team-mates, and while that is likely to work in his favour, the inquiry compounds England’s woes after their grand slam pursuit ended with a second defeat in Eddie Jones’s 26 matches in charge.

Wilson could also face disciplinary action for his role in the incident. He was already facing a nervous wait to discover if he will be cited after footage emerged appearing to show him making contact with the eye area of Nathan Hughes. The citing commissioner, Patrice Frantschi, has until this evening to lodge any complaints.

Both the Rugby Football Union and its Scottish counterpart will have to explain the incident before Six Nations Rugby determines whether any disciplinary action is required. With the referee, Nigel Owens, powerless to intervene as the incident took place before kick-off and the remit of Frantschi limited to events on the field of play, the responses of both unions will be pivotal in determining any possible sanctions.

Jones repeatedly denied any knowledge of the tunnel incident, which was picked up by TV cameras, during his post-match press conference on Saturday. He said: “I’ve been coaching a game. I’ve been pretty busy.” Like a number of players from both sides, Danny Care claimed he did not see the bust-up but added: “If anything it fired up the boys even more.”

The incident took place just as the players were leaving the pitch following their pre-match warm-ups, shortly before Scotland stormed to a 22-6 lead at half-time. England rallied in the second half but defeat ends any chance of a second grand slam in three years under Jones. The Australian was adamant, however, that he would not over-react and bristled at suggestions he may make wholesale changes to his side to face France on Saturday week.

“Once you get into the situation we got into, it puts pressure on you and we probably didn’t execute as well as we can do,” he said. “But I’m not going to go down the track of saying everything is wrong, because everything is not wrong. We were beaten at the breakdown, we didn’t get our defence spacing right and our intensity wasn’t good enough.”

Jones will name a 27-man squad today, with 19 players due to convene in Oxford tomorrow for the second fallow week of the tournament, and the remaining eight focusing on reconditioning. Defeat by Scotland followed two weeks of intensive training sessions, including two against Georgia, but Chris Robshaw does not believe that contributed to the result. “Eddie and the strength and conditioning team are so diligent on recovery that it allows us to train like that and you feel fresh after,” he said.

Jones also revealed that it will take until at least Wednesday to get over his second defeat as England coach and described his review of the match as “painful watching”. He told BBC Sportsweek: “We put our heart and soul into coaching, we take it seriously, we’ve got a job that’s very responsible for England rugby and we’re disappointed. We take the responsibility of how we’ll fix it.” – Guardian service

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