Eddie Jones dismisses WRU reaction but World Rugby questions Joe Marler decision
England head coach Eddie Jones has accused Wales of deliberately attempting to derail his side's Grand Slam bid as simmering tension between the RBS 6 Nations rivals erupted into open hostility.
The Welsh Rugby Union's move to publically voice their objection to Joe Marler being cleared of verbally abusing their prop Samson Lee at Twickenham last Saturday provoked a furious response from Jones.
And in a further development late on Thursday evening, World Rugby requested further information from Six Nations organisers "in respect of the process that led to (the) decision" amid widespread concerns over the investigation and its verdict.
Seething at the timing of the release of Wales' statement shortly before his team announcement press conference, Jones mocked their reaction to a saga that has been protracted into a fifth day by declaring "they don't know whether they're Arthur or Martha".
England face the final assignment of their quest for a first Grand Slam since 2003 when they collide with France in Paris and Jones has circled the wagons.
"Everyone is keen for England not to win the Grand Slam, let's be real about it," he told Sky Sports.
"Wales will be happy if we don't win the Grand Slam and they'll do anything to upset us in our preparation. It's as simple as that.
"Why else would they do it? The whole thing has been dealt with.
"Once a decision has been made, you get on with it. You don't say the decision is wrong, you have to get on with it.
''Wales have decided not to do that and there's only one reason for that.''
Jones became mired in controversy when insisting the parents of Johnny Sexton would be concerned over a whiplash injury sustained by the Lions fly-half in the build up to Ireland's visit to Twickenham, and he now seized the opportunity to question Wales' methods.
''How they behave... I've been criticised for values in rugby, but if you talk about values in rugby let's look at them (Wales),'' he said.
Marler was unexpectedly cleared to play against France after escaping sanction for calling Lee ''gypsy boy'' in the 25-21 victory, despite the offence of verbal abuse carrying a minimum four-week suspension.
Just hours after Six Nations organisers had cleared Marler of striking Wales prop Rob Evans, they declined to punish his insult towards Lee, noting "the comment was one made in the heat of the moment".
The outcome of the investigation and delay in reaching a verdict has compelled World Rugby, the game's global governing body, to seek clarification.
A statement from the governing body read: "World Rugby can confirm that, in accordance with its regulations, it has requested further information from Six Nations Rugby (the tournament organiser of the RBS 6 Nations Championship) in respect of the process that led to its decision."
Wales responded to Marler escaping any punishment with a strongly worded statement on Thursday lunchtime objecting to what they regard as a racist remark.
''We are surprised by the decision of the Six Nations disciplinary hearing. We stand by our belief that that there is no place for the use of racist language in sport,'' the Welsh Rugby Union said.
''Clearly this incident has raised broader issues for the game of rugby which require follow-up and which we are undertaking directly with Six Nations.''
Jones highlighted Wales' retraction of the view voiced by their head coach Warren Gatland on Tuesday that the comments were ''just a bit of banter''.
''In every aspect of life, people get so PC and just make massive issues about things,'' Gatland added.
Twenty-four hours later Gatland was forced to retract his comments, saying in a statement: ''I don't condone racism of any kind. I apologise for any offence my use of the word banter may have caused.''
Jones, who is one victory away from claiming the richest prize in the northern hemisphere in his debut campaign, leapt on this U-turn.
''If you look at the Wales statement from Wednesday, they don't know whether they're Arthur or Martha,'' Jones said.
''At one point on Wednesday they didn't (think it was racist) and now they do.
''As I said on Monday, we've let the disciplinary process run its course. The findings have been made and we just run with those findings.
''I spoke to Joe about the situation and said it was inappropriate. There's been a decision made and we'll run with that decision. That's why we have these committees.
'We have got a Grand Slam in front of us. A Grand Slam is much more interesting than something that happened seven days ago that's been well and truly discussed.''
Marler finds himself on the bench for the visit to the French capital after Mako Vunipola was promoted into the starting XV but Jones denied the demotion was a punishment.
''We just feel that Mako will give us a lot of ball-carrying at the start of the game and Joe's scrummaging and defensive capabilities will be very handy at the end,'' he said.
The only other change sees the scrum-halves rotate, with Danny Care starting in place of Ben Youngs.