World Cup - England coaches suspended for ball switch

Thu, 29 Sep 07:54:00 2011

England have handed a one-match ban to coaches David Alred and Paul Stridgeon for switching balls used in Saturday's World Cup win over Romania without permission.

England's Jonny Wilkinson attends Captain's run training session on September 23, 2011, at Otago Stadium in Dunedin during the 2011 Rugby World Cup - 0

The Rugby Football Union released a statement on Thursday saying that both would be banned from Eden Park for Saturday's final Pool B match against Scotland.

The statement explained that the pair "mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the match balls".

"The RFU fully accepts that the action of those team management members was incorrect and detrimental to the image of the tournament, the game and to English rugby."

Assistant coach Alred and fitness coach Stridgeon swapped balls that they thought unfit for use after conversions were kicked in the first half of the game England won 67-3 in Dunedin.

England were the subject of a misconduct investigation from Rugby World Cup Limited after they were spotted substituting balls before Jonny Wilkinson attempted "a number of conversion kicks".

Law 9.8.1 states the kicker must convert tries with same ball that was touched down, unless the referee agrees it is defective. England did not consult the match officials before making the switch.

Tournament officials investigated the breach but said no further action was necessary and deemed the RFU punishment "appropriate", but warned of severe action for any further breaches.

"It's unfortunate that we have had to take this action but ultimately there was a breach of the laws of the game," England manager Martin Johnson said in a statement on Thursday.

"But it's happened, some action has been taken and we have to move on."

Johnson explains Scotland team selection

PA Sport / Reuters

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