England manager Eddie Jones has warned Nigel Owens and his officiating team to be wary of French attempts to slow the speed of play ahead of today’s Six Nations tie.
Steve Borthwick, the The Red Rose's forwards coach, is expected to voice the English concerns in the customary pre-match meeting with the officials, with England worried that France’s desire to stop their free-flowing offense will see Les Bleus resort to sly tactics, which include delaying the line-out formation and resetting scrums.
Jones believes that a slow-moving match will not be beneficial for his players.
“It’s difficult – just look at ball-in-play time”, said Jones, as per Rugby Pass, when asked about the issue during his pre-match press conference.
“We have just had the Japanese coaches with us for the week – Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown – and they are aiming to have a ball-in-play time of close to 50 minutes. France average 30 minutes.
“It is hard to get pace in the game now the way the game is being refereed because increasingly we are getting longer stoppages, which I don’t think is healthy for the game. There are a couple of ways we can get a bit of pace in the game on Sunday and we have investigated those. You know the referee we have got.”
However, attacking forward Scott Wisemantel believes that the man in middle will deal with any unsportsmanlike conduct in a swift and effective manner.
“It’s up to Nigel Owens. Nigel’s an experienced referee who understands the ebb and flow of games. He’ll do the best to keep the game moving I think.”
And prop forward Mako Vunipola, who was Man of the Match in England’s impressive 32-20 victory against Ireland in Dublin last week, wants his teammates to stay focused on their own performances rather than that of the referee.
“For us it’s about controlling what we can and making sure that we take care of our job. If it is ridiculous then I’m sure the right people will step in.
“Being focused for 80 minutes is the biggest thing because this team can score from anywhere in a split second.”
This is England’s second match of the tournament following that opening weekend triumph, and they are expected to have too much for their opponents in Paris.
At the Aviva Stadium, they put in one of their best performances during Jones’ three-year reign in a match that many expected them to lose.
At the beginning of this World Cup year, the Australian is adamant that this side has plenty more to offer.
“I think we can get better.
"I always remember a press conference with Tiger Woods after he took 12 months to remodel his swing.
"The interviewer said to him, ‘can you be as good as you were?’ and he said, ‘the reason I have taken time off is to be better’. There’s no reason why we can’t keep on getting better, no reason at all.”