Rugby Union


Eddie Jones risks controversy by bringing in official to help England in training before Ireland

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Football News

The assistant referee for this weekend's Six Nations clash between England and Ireland has officiated a training session at the request of Eddie Jones just days before the Grand Slam decider.

The Times reported on Wednesday that South African Marius van der Westhuizen, who will assist referee Angus Gardner at Twickenham, took charge of an England training session in a move likely to be considered by many to be controversial.

World Rugby has been keen for officials to work closely with international teams during training camps to ensure understanding and better relationships are built between players and those officiating games.

However, referees are strictly forbidden to work with teams if they are due to take charge of a match that the team is involved in during a Test window. 

Ireland fans may be shocked to find that there is no such regulation placed on assistants, meaning that Van der Westhuizen was able to be utilised by England as he has not refereed them during the current Six Nations.

The South African was one of the two assistants during England's 22-16 defeat against France and the referee for that game, Jaco Peyper, will be taking the role of the other assistant at Twickenham.

Having suffered back-to-back Six Nations defeats for the first time since 2009, it is understandable that England head coach Eddie Jones will be looking for every advantage given the challenge of facing an Ireland side unbeaten so far.

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Meanwhile, Ireland are on the opposite trajectory chasing their first Six Nations Grand Slam for nine years and have every right to be aggrieved by the advantages that Jones' side are being given.

World Rugby's stance is that no unfair advantage can be gained by working with assistants, however, the use of one of the match day officials so close to the day of the game is unusual and is unlikely to be taken to kindly by Irish fans.

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Having worked closely with both assistant officials for Saturday's match, Eddie Jones will undoubtedly be hoping his men garner the edge over this year's champions.

England go into Saturday's encounter looking to protect a 15-match unbeaten streak at Twickenham and thereby spoiling the impending St Patrick's Day party. 

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Rugby Union
Ireland Rugby
Six Nations
England Rugby

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