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Rugby World Cup: England investigated for possible breach of communications as Kyran Bracken backs Billy Vunipola

By Duncan Bech

England are being investigated for an alleged breach of protocol in communications with matchday officials during Saturday's 33-13 defeat to Australia, World Rugby have announced.

A report in Australia states that two members of the coaching team approached match officials in the tunnel at Twickenham at half-time. The loss to the Wallabies meant Stuart Lancater's men were dumped out. His job is now on the line.

"World Rugby are investigating an alleged breach by the England coaching team of the match-day communications protocol between match officials and team members or union officials during the match between England and Australia," a World Rugby Statement read.

England trailed 17-3 at half-time and as the teams ran off, the coaches are reported to have spoken to officials in contravention of the rules. They are already facing a fine for their failure to fulfil media obligations.

Meanwhile, former England star Kyran Bracken has defended Billy Vunipola over comments attributed to the No.8, but at the same hinted at the extent of Andy Farrell's influence within England's coaching team.

Bracken hosted a charity Q&A in which Vunipola is reported to have said he has never been coached by Stuart Lancaster, only Farrell, and that there was extensive opposition to the presence of Sam Burgess.

Vunipola has dismissed the comments as "laughable".

Bracken said: "While Billy had an opinion, it was taken out of context. We've all known that Andy Farrell is much more involved in the coaching.

"In fact, Billy said he had a huge respect for Sam Burgess."

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