Two England coaching staff could find themselves in hot water after allegedly approaching match officials at halftime in Saturday’s crushing Rugby World Cup defeat to the Wallabies.
AAP understands the pair spoke to match officials in the tunnel at Twickenham as the teams left the field for the halftime break, with England trailing 17-3 in a match they would go on to lose 33-13, ensuring an embarrassingly early exit from the World Cup.
It is believed there is CCTV footage available of the position in the tunnel where the alleged incident took place and this may be used as part of any investigation.
Approaching match officials in such circumstances is strictly outlawed.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika received a formal warning from Super Rugby governing body SANZAR earlier this year after an investigation into him approaching referee Jaco Peyper at halftime during his NSW Waratahs’ win over the Blues in Sydney.
The SANZAR investigation found Cheika had a “short and polite exchange” with Peyper to clarify a scrum interpretation, but that there was no evidence the referee was influenced by the exchange in his handling of the match.
The robust discussion from the England coaches at halftime came after the England scrum had been heavily scrutinised by match officials, with Australia’s dominance in this area proving pivotal in the Wallabies’ victory.
With one match still to play, the loss consigned England to a pool-stage exit, making them the first World Cup hosts to miss out on the knock-out stages of competition.
Head coach Stuart Lancaster, who is not believed to be among those to confront the officials, is under enormous pressure to retain his role despite being under contract until 2020.
“I’m the head coach and we didn’t get out of the pool. This is going to sit with us all forever – players, coaches, management,” Lancaster said.
“I don’t think I’ll ever come to terms with it personally because it was such a big thing.
“I’ve had some great moments coaching England and I’ve had some disappointing ones, but this pales everything else into insignificance because of what the tournament means to everyone.”
England’s scrum fell to pieces on Saturday night, conceding three first-half penalties as respected French referee Romain Poite came down hard on their loosehead prop Joe Marler for boring in at an angle.
Marler was hooked after 50 minutes following a terse exchange with Poite about coming in at an angle after he’d conceded a fourth penalty.