England urge Nigel Owens to clamp down on French delaying tactics


England’s coaching staff have called on referee Nigel Owens to prevent France from deliberately slowing the tempo of Sunday’s Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Jones has questioned France’s conditioning this week and says England will look to play at a fast tempo to take advantage of that perceived weakness.

He expects the French to attempt to slow down the game by keeping the ball out of play for as long as possible.

England are keen to highlight the issue ahead of the game and it will be raised by Steve Borthwick when the forwards coach speaks with Owens at the customary eve-of-match referees’ meeting.

Jones explained: “It is difficult – just look at ball-in-play time.

“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.

“They kick the ball out a lot and look for long stoppages before scrums. They are things we really can’t control, so it’s hard to get pace in the game against them.

“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.”

Mako Vunipola, who was man of the match in last week’s win in Ireland, is confident Owens will keep the game moving.

“For me as a front rower I would be happy if they slowed it down!” the Saracens loosehead prop said.

“But 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.”

(c) Sky News 2019: England urge Nigel Owens to clamp down on French delaying tactics

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