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England took too long to get to grips with Italian tactics, says Ford

By Andy Newport

Scotland hooker Ross Ford is mystified by the angry English response to Italy's breakdown tactics.

The Azzurri infuriated Red Rose head coach Eddie Jones by refusing to compete for possession after a tackle had been made when they clashed at Twickenham two weeks ago.

The ploy ensured no ruck was formed and therefore no offside line, allowing the Italians to flood England's back-line during a chaotic opening 40 minutes.

That left the farcical situation where England skipper Dylan Hartley and flanker James Haskell were seen quizzing referee Romain Poite about the laws governing the tackle contest before their side eventually got a grip on the chicanery after the half-time interval.

But it also sparked heated debate, with the likes of former England scrum-half Matt Dawson leading the calls for a re-think of World Rugby's laws.

Ford, however, cannot get his head around the fuss - and reckons Jones' side should have worked it out quicker.

The Dark Blues forward - whose side travel to Twickenham on Saturday - said: "It was interesting. I didn't know what the hoo-hah was all about really.

"There have been teams who have done the same thing in Super Rugby and in the PRO12 before.

"It's just one of those things you adapt to.

"It's strange when you first see it because you're not expecting it, it's not the norm.

"But it's a pretty simple fix to get round it."

Meanwhile, Billy Vunipola appears to have won an immediate recall to England's starting XV after a picture emerged from training that hinted at the line-up for Saturday's Calcutta Cup showdown with Scotland.

Two whiteboards positioned at the side of the pitch at the RBS 6 Nations champions' Surrey training base displayed the formations for yesterday's morning session, indicating that Vunipola is pencilled in at number eight in place of Nathan Hughes.

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