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England v Wales talking points

Published 11/03/2016

Referee Craig Joubert will be the man tasked with controlling Saturday's Twickenham tussle
Referee Craig Joubert will be the man tasked with controlling Saturday's Twickenham tussle

England meet Wales at Twickenham on Saturday in a clash destined to decide who will be crowned RBS 6 Nations champions.

Here Press Association Sport examines five talking points heading into the biggest game of the tournament.

SCRUM MIND GAMES

A muted countdown to the biggest match of the championship ignited on Thursday with the coaching teams trading verbal blows over the scrum. England head coach Eddie Jones brought his self-imposed media ban to an explosive end by accusing Wales of scrummaging "terribly illegally" through continually pre-engaging. Robin McBryde, who oversees the Welsh forwards, highlighted the technique of Joe Marler, stating that the loosehead "definitely needs to scrummage legally, otherwise we'll be pointing the finger".

JOUBERT'S BACK

In the midst of the mind games being played out over the scrum stands Craig Joubert, the South African official who is taking charge of his first Test since sprinting off the Twickenham pitch and down the tunnel upon blowing the final whistle for Scotland's defeat by Australia at last autumn's World Cup. Joubert had erroneously awarded the Wallabies a last-gasp penalty that was kicked to deny the Scots a place in the semi-finals. Fearing the reaction of Scotland's incensed players, Joubert made a sharp exit. He is among the game's top officials but he must be inwardly cursing World Rugby for giving him such a high-profile return.

TITLE DECIDER

The winner at Twickenham will almost certainly be crowned Six Nations champions and England could even have the title sown up by 5pm on Sunday - the first time it has been achieved with a round to spare. If Wales are toppled and Scotland dispatch France 24 hours later, it is all over with a coveted Grand Slam the prize waiting in Paris on the final weekend. If Wales win, then all they need to do is dispatch Italy to begin their victory celebrations. France's points difference of minus six places them on the fringes of contention.

UNLEASH MANU

After being robbed of the last 21 months of international rugby and 15 months of his playing career by a complex groin injury, England's most devastating runner is finally back. Manu Tuilagi has been named on the bench and will be unleashed upon Wales in the final quarter, occupying the position of inside centre that Jones believes best suits his strengths. The 24-year-old wrecking-ball has been given the simplest of instructions by his coach - "just run".

COUSIN VERSUS COUSIN

The most bone-jarring collision of all will come at number eight where cousins Billy Vunipola and Taulupe Faletau will deliver a heavyweight clash to savour. Vunipola has been transformed by Jones, flourishing amid the central role given to him by his coach to become England's top performer in this Six Nations. Faletau has also been in strong form, showing less in attack than his rival but acting as a defensive force of nature. If the British and Irish Lions were touring in June, this would be a final audition for a Test place.

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