England coach Eddie Jones has added more fuel to the fire ahead of the 6 Nations clash with Wales on Saturday by gunning for Alun Wyn Jones.
The fixture hardly needed any more build-up given the consequences it will have for both sides’ championship hopes, but Jones couldn’t resist having a dig at Jones when speaking to the media on Thursday.
In particular, he felt that the Welsh skipper’s conduct against Scotland was “out of order” in attempting to influence referee Pascal Gauzere before Finn Russell converted Scotland’s consolation try in last week’s 34-7 rout, and has even referred the matter to World Rugby:
“I thought that was right out of order. When [Jones] 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.”
Jones went on to suggest that Saturday’s referee, Jerome Graces, would do well to be on the lookout for similar tactics from Wales when the two teams meet at Twickenham:
“Garcès is a very experienced referee. 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.”
Jones had already begun the mind games on Thursday afternoon by suggesting that Wales outhalf Rhys Patchell’s lack of international experience would count against him, with the Scarlets man having lined out for Warren Gatland’s side on just a handful of occasions.