England playmaker Owen Farrell could be in further trouble after a video emerged of the Saracens star shoving Scotland backrower Ryan Wilson leading to the pre-match bust up that marred the Six Nations clash between the two nations at Murrayfield on Saturday.
The footage, which has been posted on Youtube, shows both teams leaving the field simultaneously after their pre-game warm-up.
As they walk-up the tunnel Wilson appears to be talking to England fly-half George Ford.
Farrell then appears running quickly in the background. He pushes one Scottish player out of the way before shoving Wilson away from Ford.
Scottish prop Simon Berghan is then seen joining the skirmish which then escalated involving more players from both sides.
It’s impossible to decipher what Wilson is saying to Ford but according to distinguished English rugby scribe Mick Cleary writing in The Daily Telegraph “Farrell was coming to his team-mate’s defence.”
In a separate development last night, Wilson has been cited for allegedly making contact with the eye of England No8 Nathan Hughes and will face a disciplinary hearing.
This looks like a tough call on Wilson who was being pinned to the ground at the time by Hughes and may have just been defending himself.
England scrum-half Danny Care said afterwards that the flare-up between Farrell and Wilson had “fired up the boys even more”, although that was hard to see in England’s tame first half performance.
The Six Nations committee has written to both the Rugby Football Union and the Scottish Rugby Union, requesting clarification on what happened but both sides for now are staying tight-lipped.
Cleary, who is widely respected in the England camp, goes on to say: “The RFU management team will be reviewing the situation after taking eyewitness accounts.
“It was believed in the aftermath that Farrell had been provoked, but this new evidence suggests that he was protecting his team-mate.”
The skirmish may lead to a review on protocols for teams entering and leaving the field during the warm-up period.
Meanwhile England are looking to add some much needed spark with fit-again Wasps wing Elliot Daly and Harlequins tighthead Kyle Sinckler, both Lions last year in New Zealand, recalled to the 27-man squad to prepare to face France in Paris on Saturday March 10.
We’re over halfway through the Six Nations, and Ireland look in pole position to seal another Six Nations title after their victory over Wales at the weekend.
As all the coaches go back to camp for a one week break, it gives them the chance to reflect on the campaign so far and what they need to do to finish the campaign on a positive note.
With two matches remaining, we look at what each nation needs to do to consider the championship a positive one.
Ireland: Winning the Grand Slam will be the ultimate goal for Joe Schmidt’s side as they prepare for their final two matches against Scotland and England.
Although cutting down the Red Rose at Twickenham will provide a thorny issue, the Men in Green look poised to secure a third Six Nations title under Schmidt.
Strong carries, excellent work at the breakdown, keeping the penalty count low and putting the defending team under pressure will also keep the management content when they review the campaign – especially with a trophy on the table.
England: For Eddie Jones, the defeat to Scotland will be a significant regret when he dissects the good and bad points from the campaign.
But in order to finish with a flourish, England need to speed up the breakdown and attain a level of dominance up front.
They were destroyed against the Scots and this proved further evidence that the back-row issues have not been resolved.
Courtney Lawes, Chris Robshaw and Nathan Hughes were simply played off the park in Murrayfield. Sam Underhill needs to start.
Wales: Despite defeats to Ireland and England, it’s been a positive campaign so far for the Dragons – with defeats coming by a combined margin of 16 points.
Blooding youngsters like Elliot Dee and Josh Adams in the final games will add some gloss when Warren Gatland looks back at the end of the championship.
Re-introducing Taulupe Faletau and George North to the starting team should also be a significant bonus – the latter of who looked solid with ball in hand when featuring against Ireland.
Scotland: Two wins will be Gregor Townsend’s aim for the remaining games after their stunning victory over England – but only one looks likely with Ireland in such impressive form.
Keeping Greig Laidlaw, Finn Russell and John Barclay firing will also be key – as the trio are chief lieutenants in a burgeoning side.
When reflecting on the campaign, the Scots can be proud of their performances against the Red Rose and France – but disappointed with the comprehensive defeat to Wales on the opening day.
Italy: The Azzurri may finish the championship without a win, but Conor O’Shea will be content with how his side performed in the second half of the Ireland game and for spells of the defeat to France.
However, in order for the team to finish on a positive note they need to be able to stay competitive for the full 80 minutes against Wales and Scotland.
On an individual level, unearthing a quality player like Matteo Minnozzi is sure to be one of the formidable takeaways.
France: For a team sprinkled with talent, Les Bleus remain one of the rugby’s biggest enigmas.
For the FFR and Jacques Brunel to agree on a positive campaign, they need to maintain intensity for the full games against England and Wales instead of playing with panache for 40 minutes.
Hoping the players drafted in for the suspended eight will perform well will also be high on the priority list for Brunel.
As the saying goes – this was coming.
Far from impressive against Italy, lucky against Wales, Eddie Jones’ much vaunted England were finally undone by a brave Scotland team.
As JK Rowling, Scotland Rugby’s No1 fan tweeted near the end of the game: “SCO 25 ENG 13 THIS CANNOT BE HAPPENING BUT IT IS.”
And no spells from Harry Potter required.
So if the rest of us could see the writing was on the wall, why not Jones, who has shown time and time again what a shrewd, tactical genius he is?
Here is what Eddie must change to turn England around.
The backrow is too slow
Yes they are big and strong and might win you some lineout ball – England won 11 from 11 lineouts, Scotland 13 from 15 – but you will get killed at the breakdown and also have no linking play between backs and forwards.
England conceded 13 turnovers and also gave up the same number of penalties, many of those at the breakdown.
Scotland’s open side Hamish Watson may be small by Test standards (1.85m and 102kgs to Lawes’ 2.01m and 115kgs) but he was everywhere, constantly getting to the breakdown seconds before the English loose trio.
It was the same with Scottish captain John Barclay.
The really telling statistic was both England wings Anthony Watson and Jonny May gave up three turnovers each – as they were swamped by the faster Scotland backrow and the English backrow were late in support.
The only other player to give up three turnovers – Lawes himself – was again left vulnerable by his backrow partners.
In comparison, Watson conceded just one turnover and Barclay none.
Jones must bring in a more mobile flanker for the last two matches, in the mode of the great Neil Back or Australia’s Michael Hooper.
The only problem is who.
The most likely candidate is Exeter’s Sam Simmonds but he is out injured and mobile English backrowers are in short supply.
Time for Te’o
It’s hard to remember a more ineffective performance from an England backline – apart from the Sam Burgess disaster at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
In total they made just four clean breaks in the entire match – three of those to May, meaning the rest of the team managed just one.
Scotland managed eight – with Huw Jones matching the entire England total.
Joseph also made 23 run metres to Jones’ 115.
It is perhaps unfair to compare Joseph to Jones, who had a career making match similar to the young Brian O’Driscoll. But Joseph is meant to be known for his defence – he made four tackles. Jones made 13.
England simply must get more attacking metres from this position and Jones must look at Owen Farrell swapping to fly-half with Ben Te’o at No12 and Jack Nowell No13.
This would get your most dangerous runners into the game earlier and remove the innocuous George Ford.
Ben Youngs is also clearly missed.
Discover a ‘plan B’
When Jones first took over at England he introduced a power game that simply blew other teams off the park – resulting in a world record-equaling 18 consecutive Test victories.
England dominated up front, build up momentum through forward charges and then with the defence backpedaling released their deceptive backline.
But for that plan to work the forwards must be going forward and against Wales and now Scotland, that has not been the case.
The backline is getting static slow ball, or even ball on the backfoot – and they are getting belted.
A lot of the time it looks like England are in slow motion.
Certainly a more fleet-footed backrow would help but he has one solution sitting on the bench – Lions hooker Jamie George. George would instantly give the English pack more dynamism.
Jones has made his point with Dylan Hartley but time to move on. England need a new No2.