Monday 10 December 2018

Jones vows to take frustration out on Japan

England substitute Courtney Lawes (20) is deemed to be in an offside position moments before blocking the kick of TJ Perenara (right). What could have been a match-winning try from Sam Underhill was subsequently disallowed.
England substitute Courtney Lawes (20) is deemed to be in an offside position moments before blocking the kick of TJ Perenara (right). What could have been a match-winning try from Sam Underhill was subsequently disallowed.

Mick Cleary

England are poised to take out their frustration at their 16-15 defeat by New Zealand on Japan on Saturday, with head coach Eddie Jones warning that his former side should "go to a chapel and pray".

England were dismayed at being denied victory against the world champions by a controversial late decision to rule out a Sam Underhill 'try' when the television match official deemed Courtney Lawes offside in charging down a kick in the build-up.

New World Rugby guidelines state that the referee should make the final decision on try-scoring, but on this occasion Jerome Garces appeared to be instructed by TMO Marius Jonker, who told him after a discussion: "It's offside, so you need to change your on-field decision to a penalty."

Jones said his players felt the score was legitimate, with doubts about whether Lawes was in fact in an offside position when New Zealand scrum-half TJ Perenara put his hands on the ball.

A ruck was not formed as England players were not competing for the ball but the law states that the offside line is at the hindmost point of any player in the tackle on his feet over the ball. Lawes appears to be fractionally in front of All Blacks prop Ofa Tu'ungafasi, who took a step forward when Lawes moved to charge down the kick, but debate centred upon whether the ball was already in play by then.

"I thought, 'I am onside here, I am going to charge it down'," said Lawes. "I was deemed offside and therefore I was offside. I don't know exactly what the offside line was. Maybe I need to take a step."

Jones said England would not be raising the issue as part of the officials' post-match review. World Rugby is also thought to be content with Jonker's intervention, given that the atrocious weather had made Garces' ability to assess the replays more difficult.

"It's difficult to swallow, but you have to respect the referee," Jones said. "I was really proud of our players that they didn't carry on on the field. They just got on with it and tried to win the game again.

"We don't challenge the referee on decisions, we don't abuse him after the game. We have to make sure we keep supporting the referees. It gives rugby a point of difference from other sports."

Jones, however, appears to have been riled by "cheeky" comments from the Japan camp and intends to exact revenge on Saturday. It is unclear what comments he was referring to, with even Japanese journalists expressing surprise.

"If I was Japan I'd be worried," he said. "We want to smash them, physically smash them. I've heard some of the things they've said, they've been a bit cheeky, so look out."

Asked what his advice for Japan was, Jones added: "Pray, pray, pray. Go to the temple and pray. We're going to be absolutely ruthless." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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