England have urged referee Nigel Owens to crack down on any attempts by France to deliberately slow the game in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham on Sunday.
Eddie Jones’ side are keen to take advantage of what they believe will be a powerful France side’s lack of conditioning but are concerned their efforts will be frustrated by ‘Les Bleus’ employing a variety of underhand tricks such as taking an excessive amount of time to form line-outs and scrums.
But Welsh official Owens has long been one of the world’s leading officials and England attack coach Scott Wisemantel said: “Nigel’s an experienced referee who understands the ebb and flow of games. He’ll do the best to keep the game moving I think.”
England head coach Jones said there was only so much his side could do in their efforts to speed up the game.
“It’s difficult – just look at ball-in-play time,” said Jones.
“We have just had the Japanese coaches with us for the week — Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown — and they are aiming to have a ball-in-play time of close to 50 minutes,” he added.
“France average 30 minutes. They kick the ball out a lot and look for long stoppages before scrums,” added the Australian, who will hope England can build on their opening 32-20 win away to Six Nations champions Ireland.
“It is hard to get pace in the game now the way the game is being refereed because increasingly we are getting longer stoppages, which I don’t think is healthy for the game.”
England loosehead prop Mako Vunipola, however, joked: “For me as a front rower I would be happy if they slowed it down!”
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