England coach staff (Getty Images)
London - World Rugby said on Monday it is investigating reports that England
coaching staff made an illegal approach to match officials at half-time
in their devastating loss by Australia.
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According to media reports two England coaches made the approach as
the two teams left the field at Twickenham on Saturday with England
trailing 17-3. Head coach Stuart Lancaster was not among them however.
"World Rugby is investigating an alleged breach by the England
coaching team of the match-day communications protocol between match
officials and team members or union officials," said a World Rugby
"The protocol prohibits certain conduct on match days including
coaches approaching match officials during a match or at half-time
during a match," the statement added.
Media reports have suggested that there is CCTV footage from the tunnel where the alleged incident took place.
England, now in crisis after being dumped out of the World Cup, made no immediate comment.
Australia defence coach Nathan Grey said he had not noticed anything out of the ordinary.
"That’s the first I’ve heard on that," said Grey at the Wallabies
morning press conference when asked about whether he had seen anything
or heard mention of it.
Australia coach Michael Cheika received a formal warning from Super
Rugby governing body SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australian
Rugby) earlier this year after he approached referee Jaco Peyper at
half-time during his Waratahs' win over the Blues in
Sydney. SANZAR's investigation ruled Cheika had a "short and polite exchange"
with Peyper seeking clarification over a scrum interpretation, but added
there was no evidence the South African referee's subsequent
officiating of the match had been influenced by the discussion.