England, Australia not giving an inch over scrum

 03 Oct 2015 - 0:30

England, Australia not giving an inch over scrum
England’s wing Jack Nowell (left) attends the captain’s run training session at Twickenham Stadium in London, yesterday on the eve of their Rugby World Cup 2015 match against Australia.

Twickenham, UK: England and Australia are fighting over the scrum before they even go on the pitch for their decisive World Cup clash today.
The pressure will be on French referee Romain Poite during the game as much as the heavyweights on either side whose battle for supremacy could decide the game.
With the stakes so high – England were upset 28-25 by Wales and will go out in shame in the qualifying round if they lose again – there is a war of words over how the Pool A confrontation will be refereed at Twickenham.
England forwards coach Graham Rowntree hit back yesterday after former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer accused the Red Rose brigade of deploying an illegal set-piece.
England have won their last two Tests against Australia through their dominant forwards. 
But Dwyer, who guided Australia to victory over England in the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham, has accused England loosehead prop Joe Marler of gaining an unfair advantage by angling in rather than scrummaging square.
Former England prop Rowntree, however, insisted he had had a “positive conversation” with World Rugby referees’ chief Joel Jutge.
And he is backing Poite to effectively control the scrum. “I’ve had a very positive conversation with Joel,” Rowntree said at Twickenham. 
“I speak with him quite regularly on the scrum and other things.
“It was a very positive conversation and I’m happy with what we have to do tomorrow night,” added the 44-year-old.
Rowntree was a member of the British and Irish Lions coaching staff when Poite repeatedly penalised Australia in the combined side’s series-clinching over the Wallabies two years ago.
“I have a lot of respect for this guy,” said Rowntree, who won 54 England caps. 
“French referees in particular have such composure around the set-piece.
“He likes a scrum and referees most weeks in a league where scrummaging is paramount -- the French Top 14. “I’m a big fan. We’ve had some really good days at the office as a forward pack with Romain involved.”
Rowntree said Australia, who won this year’s southern hemisphere Rugby Championship, had a vastly improved scrum after Wallaby coach Michael Cheika brought in former Argentina hooker Mario Ledesma to assist with the set-piece.
“Australia’s tight play has really improved. I’m a big fan of what Ledesma has brought to the team.”  Rowntree, as an assistant coach, and Nick Easter -- brought into the squad this week after No 8 Billy Vunipola’s knee injury -- were both involved in England’s 2007 World Cup quarter-final win over Australia in Marseille.
That World Cup saw England, thrashed 36-0 by South Africa in the pool phase, reach the final before again losing to the Springboks in Paris.  “Nick spoke a lot about the Marseille game -- I was also involved in that -- it’s about doing your job right in the heat of battle,” said Rowntree.
Rowntree did not have the best of luck at World Cups as a player making a handful of appearances in 1995 and 1999 before being left out of the England squad that won the Webb Ellis Trophy in 2003 in what coach Clive Woodward said was his hardest selection decision of all.
But with all the burden of expectation on England’s shoulders on Saturday, Rowntree tried to lighten the load.
“You have to keep telling yourselves how lucky you are, how blessed, rather than being stressed by the pressure of it all,” said Rowntree.
“I envy the guys that are on the field, I remember that feeling as a player and, as I coach, you cannot forget how lucky we are.”