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Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree bans add to England's World Cup woes

Published 09/10/2015

Nick Mallett claims he has been called by the Rugby Football Union about the role of England head coach
Nick Mallett claims he has been called by the Rugby Football Union about the role of England head coach

England's inglorious World Cup continued to unravel after Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree received changing-room bans for Saturday's final group match against Uruguay.

The coaches will make only limited contributions at Manchester City Stadium after breaching protocols governing communication with match officials during half-time of the 33-13 tournament-ending rout by Australia at Twickenham.

Farrell and Rowntree admitted to the charges and the independent judicial officer - who was able to call on use of CCTV footage - determined that "this action could not be described as an insignificant incident".

In the written decision published by World Rugby, Farrell and Rowntree are found to have exchanged words with assistant referees Marius Mitrea and George Clancy over the scrum, a department of the game in which England struggled.

The statement of Australia coach Michael Cheika reveals that Clancy was forced to move between Farrell and Mitrea in order to diffuse the flashpoint, although the judgement insists "it was not a hostile situation".

Cheika said: "I heard Mr Farrell say something in a raised voice in the direction of the match officials, following which I saw Mr Clancy step forward and move between the match official and the members of the England coaching team as they walked towards their dressing room".

A comment made by Farrell was described in statements as to have been said "in a raised voice" and "using a raised voice in an aggressive manner". Farrell said that he did not intend his comment to sound aggressive.

Rowntree confirmed that he "made a throwaway comment in his direction in relation to a scrum decision".

The pair will not be allowed access to the tunnel or changing room area at Manchester City Stadium during the period comprising 15 minutes prior to kick-off, during half-time or until 10 minutes after full-time.

Both coaches and the Rugby Football Union have also been reprimanded and warned over their future conduct, in particular with regard to complying with the match officials protocol.

The outcome of World Rugby's probe - which began on Monday - completed the end of another tortuous day for England in which the RFU were forced to deny they had made an approach to Nick Mallett.

The future of head coach Stuart Lancaster is in grave doubt after the hosts failed to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup for the first time and the RFU's inquest will begin on Monday.

Mallett is said to have told South African media that he had been called by the RFU earlier in the week, telling them he was not interested in a position for which he was interviewed in 2012 only to lose out to Lancaster.

The RFU denied they had made contact and a spokesman for Mallett stated on Friday afternoon that his words had been misinterpreted.

It had been a torrid week for England, who have been forced to deal with revelations of a training ground bust-up between Danny Cipriani and Mike Catt and a Twitter row involving James Haskell and Neil Back that was ignited by a selfie stick.

Lancaster has also faced criticism from club directors of rugby over various elements of his England stewardship, possibly the most cutting of which was Rob Baxter of Exeter highlighting the lack of "enjoyment, very few smiles and very few characters".

Little attention has been paid to the showdown with minnows Uruguay - tickets for which are available at £2.50 - but Lancaster is determined to leave a positive impression at the home of Manchester City.

"There's a lot of people who have waited a long time to see England play in the north of England," Lancaster said.

"We have a lot of young talent on show and that talent will excite the crowd and it's up to us to do that. We want to leave people with the feeling that actually this is a good team."

"There is no excuse for the behaviour of Mr Farrell and Mr Rowntree," the judicial officer said. "It was not, as Mr Farrell's statement claimed, an "insignificant incident". As experienced coaches and members of the England management team they should have known better.

"Their unguarded actions were disrespectful to the match officials concerned and wholly inconsistent with rugby values.

"The sanction should reflect the failure of these coaches to exercise a measure of self-discipline which they should have exercised as the players, coaches and match officials left the playing area at half-time."

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