Scrum Time – The War of Words between Eddie Jones and Michael Cheika

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The build up to Saturday’s match between England and Australia has been dominated by the Aussie verbal battle between Eddie Jones and Michael Chieka.  The two Aussies have been going at it since the moment the final whistle blew at Twickenham last Saturday when Jones was interviewed about the final game of the Autumn ahead.

It’s a renewal of hostilities that began back in the summer when England travelled down-under and completed a 3-0 series win over the Wallabies.  Throughout that tour, the mud-slinging was rife with Jones calling the Aussie media “disrespectful” and they have simply picked up from where they left off earlier in the year.

Good Friends

But is there an ounce of substance to any of it? We know that Jones and Cheika are good friends, they hail from the same rugby club back home and have both rejuvenated their respective sides during their tenures. Is it designed to upset the opposing coaching staff, the team or to influence the officials for the game?  Well, all of the above in reality.

There has been a lot of focus within these exchanges on the scrum. The recent past has led to a reputation surrounding the Australian team of a side that struggles at scrum time.  Where the likes of New Zealand, England, Argentina and France have always had a strong tradition of specialising at this particular element of the set piece, the Wallabies have not churned out world class front row forwards that excel at the art of packing down.

This was a deemed to be a key area that the British and Irish Lions could exploit in their 2013 tour to the land of green and gold. However, to give Australia credit their props Ben Alexander and Benn Robinson, backed up by James Slipper and Scott Sio really prepared well for that series of tests and came away with a great number of plaudits.

Requested a Meeting

This time around it is this same part of the game that Eddie Jones is determined to put his stamp on.  He has been the aggressor over the last week in an attempt to undermine the technique of the Aussie front row and has requested a meeting with referee Jaco Peyper prior to Saturday’s showdown.  He told The Telegraph:  “I am very keen to have a chat with the referee about the Australian scrummaging.  They have got some issues with the way that they scrum so we will need to have a meeting with the referee and we will invite the Australian coaching staff to come along.”  He declined to explain what he thought those issue were instead saying:  “I’m not going to sort them out for them.  I am not going to fix their problems.”

Illegal Scrummaging

Michael Cheika hit back saying that he thought England’s tight head Dan Cole was an illegal scrummager and was quoted in The Independent as saying that Cole had been “infringing the law since his career started”.

He said of Eddie Jones: “He wants to talk about our scrum because we’re cheating in the scrum – an important thing to note is he’s got to look at his own players.”  Referencing England’s game with Argentina at the weekend he fumed:  “They are the ones who have a prop with a yellow card.

“That same prop’s been infringing the law since his career started probably, if not all of this year.”

The truth is that if Australia scrummage like they did against Ireland in Dublin, then England will push them all over the park but clearly Eddie Jones is not that complacent and will leave no stone unturned in his preparation for a game that could cap a perfect year for the men in white.

Just don’t be surprised if the verbals continue right up until kick-off.

Old Mutual Wealth Series

Saturday 3rd December – England v Australia                         14.30   Twickenham

Team Line-ups:

England

  1. Mike Brown
  2. Marlon Yarde
  3. Jonathon Joseph
  4. Owen Farell
  5. Jonny May
  6. George Ford
  7. Ben Youngs
  8. Nathan Hughes
  9. Tom Wood
  10. Chris Robshaw
  11. George Kruis
  12. Courtney Lawes
  13. Dan Cole
  14. Dylan Hartley (c)
  15. Mako Vunipola
Replacements:
  1. Jamie George
  2. Joe Marler
  3. Kyle Sinckler
  4. Charlie Ewels
  5. Teimana Harrison
  6. Danny Care
  7. Ben Te’o
  8. Henry Slade

 

Australia

  1. Israel Falou
  2. Dane Haylett-Petty
  3. Tevita Kurindrani
  4. Reece Hodge
  5. Sefanaia Naivalu
  6. Bernard Foley
  7. Nick Phipps
  8. Lopeti Timani
  9. Michael Hooper
  10. David Pocock
  11. Rob Simmons
  12. Kane Douglas
  13. SekopeKepu
  14. Stephen Moore (c)
  15. Scott Sio
Replacements:
  1. Tolu Latu
  2. James Slipper
  3. Tom Robertson
  4. Dean Mumm
  5. Sean McMahon
  6. Nick Frisby
  7. Quade Cooper
  8. Henry Speight

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