England are without captain Owen Farrell and forward Tom Curry for Sunday’s World Cup match against Japan as the duo serve suspensions following red cards; England head coach Steve Borthwick joined by predecessor Eddie Jones in questioning decisions made by World Rugby
Last Updated: 15/09/23 11:56pm
England head coach Steve Borthwick explains why he decided to start Lewis Ludlam at eight over Billy Vunipola for their Rugby World Cup clash with Japan on Sunday
Steve Borthwick has accused World Rugby of taking an inconsistent approach to disciplinary issues as the England head coach continues to contend with suspensions for his squad members.
Tom Curry was sent off in the third minute of Saturday’s World Cup victory over Argentina for a dangerous tackle and received a two-match ban, yet similar incidents involving South Africa’s Jesse Kriel and Martin Sigren of Chile failed to produce a dismissal, citing or suspension.
It has raised concerns in the England camp, and beyond, over the officiating of illegal challenges involving the head.
Borthwick also highlighted when Owen Farrell was sent off for a dangerous tackle against Wales and then cleared by a disciplinary hearing, World Rugby intervened by appealing against the decision.
“There has been a large amount of commentary from different sources about what appears to be a lack of consistency and transparency in the decision-making process,” Borthwick said.
Kevin Sinfield says despite three red cards in four games, England do not have a discipline problem and there is too much ‘noise’ around the squad
“Now it’s not my role to comment on that, it’s World Rugby’s. I also note there was a tremendous amount of comment from World Rugby on Owen Farrell for a couple of weeks during our preparation for this tournament.
“It was a situation that went on and on with lots of comment from World Rugby. I note there hasn’t been very many comments from World Rugby – I’m told – in the last week or so. I will leave that to World Rugby.”
The suspended Curry is one of three players to drop out of England’s starting XV for Sunday’s clash with Japan.
Borthwick has opted to start Lewis Ludlam at No 8 ahead of Billy Vunipola, who is available again after serving a four-match suspension.
While Vunipola could only earn a place on the bench, props Kyle Sinckler and Joe Marler have been inserted to the starting line-up.
Jones: Use of TMO fraught with danger
Australia head coach Eddie Jones also used his press conference on Friday to question the sport’s international governing body.
“I think our use of the TMO in rugby is fraught with danger; that we’re asking a referee in the grandstand to make decisions on a different angle on the game, through video,” former England boss Jones said.
Australia head coach Eddie Jones was happy to come away with a victory over Georgia in their World Cup opener, but expects his side to improve as the tournament progresses
“And it’s not making the game a better spectacle, it’s not making it a better game for the players, and I think we’re just lucky because international rugby is so popular. But I think we really need to improve the game and at the end of this World Cup there’ll be an opportunity to do that.”
Jones, whose Australia side are also in action on Sunday, against Fiji, suggested that some of the changes implemented by World Rugby in attempt to make the game safer are actually having the opposite effect.
“World Rugby have tried to make the game safer, but they’ve made it more powerful by having more stoppages in the game,” Jones added. “And there’s risk to that, there are risks when the game becomes more powerful.
“The game’s evolving into these 30-second bouts of absolute power. This World Cup will be decided by who can win those power contests. You need the game to be more continuous. The average ball-in-play is 30 seconds, the average break in the game is 70 seconds, so you encourage a power contest. We need more continuous play.”
Follow England’s Rugby World Cup match against Japan across Sky Sports’ digital platforms from 7.30pm, kick-off 8pm on Sunday.