England have made further unwanted headlines when they suspended two
coaches for illegally swapping match balls, as the World Cup prepared
for the make-or-break last round of pool matches.
Dave Alred and strength and conditioning staffer Paul Stridgeon were
reprimanded and barred from Auckland’s Eden Park stadium for Saturday’s
game against Scotland following the incident last week.
admitted using different balls for conversions than the one used to
score the tries, which is against rugby rules, during England’s 67-3 win
in Dunedin against Romania. They were warned twice by referee Romain
“Two members of the team management, David Alred and Paul
Stridgeon, mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the
match balls,” said a statement from England’s Rugby Football Union (RFU)
“Those team management members took it upon
themselves to substitute balls during the match in contravention of both
the laws of the game and the spirit of the game.
“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
England have had to deal with a number of untoward
incidents including stories about centre Mike Tindall, who was seen
embracing a blonde woman at a dwarf-throwing contest, just weeks after
marrying royal heir Zara Phillips.
Wilkinson insisted the latest
problem had not distracted the team from preparations to face Scotland
at Auckland’s Eden Park, where both teams can clinch a quarter-final
“You’d be surprised that it doesn’t impact upon the rugby
side of things. There’s two sides of life when you’re out here, you’re
on the field and off the field,” he told reporters earlier.