Referees Wayne Barnes and Matthew Carley have helped England in training ahead of their fixture with France this weekend.
England address poor discipline with help from Wayne Barnes
England called on the help of referee Wayne Barnes this week to improve their discipline, ahead of their clash with France in the Six Nations. Having conceded 42 penalties in three matches, England’s ill-discipline has cost them.
After clawing back an 11-point deficit against Wales, England ruined their chance of a comeback by conceding three penalties in nine minutes in Cardiff.
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Joining Barnes – currently rugby’s most experienced Test referee – at England’s training camp was fellow official Matthew Carley. Through explanations of their decisions, the pair helped educate the players on areas where they need to be more cautious, and areas where they can continue to push the boundaries. Testing the limits is certainly something they’re not intent on shying away from.
“We need to sort out our discipline,” said England defence coach, John Mitchell this week. “It means greater education and awareness. We do not want to stop playing on the edge or being physical but we have to be smarter.
“Our discipline has not been good enough and there is an element of individual responsibility. We have the chance to fix things. A couple of games does not define you as a team or where you are going. It is never going to be up all the way or perfect, but the growth we have is exciting.”
Reiterating that conceding penalties has likely cost their retention of the Six Nations this season, Mitchell also concludes that this could prove more beneficial in the long run.
“What is key to that is how we respond. Some things we can control and some things we can’t, so its a matter of what we can control.”
Part of that control was drafting in Barnes and Carley’s help. The players have a better understanding of physicality in games, while staying within the laws of the game. England enjoy controlling games through their physicality, although this desire has proven detrimental this Six Nations tournament.
Ahead of the fixture against France at Twickenham on Saturday, England’s hopes rest on improved discipline. While Les Bleus haven’t won a tournament match at the ground since 2005, their unbeaten record in this season’s Six Nations will certainly boost their confidence.