England have opted against lodging an official complaint to World Rugby over the performance of Pascal Gauzere in Saturday’s 40-24 defeat by Wales.
Gauzere awarded Wayne Pivac’s Grand Slam hopefuls two highly-dubious tries in the opening half an hour of the Guinness Six Nations clash at the Principality Stadium, the first of which was particularly controversial.
Former England captain Martin Johnson described the French official’s decision to allow Josh Adams’ 17th-minute touch down as “appalling refereeing”, while even ex-Wales skipper Sam Warburton admitted Eddie Jones’ team were right to be “livid”.
However, the PA news agency understands Jones will not be making a formal complaint to the sport’s global governing body amid widespread condemnation of Gauzere’s display.
Even the following morning, debate continues over whether Liam Williams’ 30th-minute try was legitimate because of a likely knock-on by Louis Rees-Zammit during the build-up.
But Adams’ score was more cut and dried, with England captain Owen Farrell addressing his team over their indiscipline as instructed by Gauzere, only for the referee to quickly restart play, allowing Dan Biggar to hoist the scoring cross-field kick.
The visitors, including their wings Jonny May and Anthony Watson, had moved infield to hear Farrell speak and there were a number of water carriers on the pitch when Gauzere blew his whistle. A frustrated Farrell protested to Gauzere but was dismissed.
“They’re huge decisions. We can’t debate it, we are not allowed to debate it. All I will end up with is a fine and that won’t help anyone,” Jones said after the game.
“They get points maybe they don’t deserve and we have to fight to get back into the game. It makes it difficult and you have to be good enough to overcome it.
“Whenever you get beaten and bettered by a penalty, then discipline is an issue. But there were bigger issues in the game than that, and I will let you discuss them.”
For all the controversy, England produced their best rugby of the Six Nations to force their way back into contention, with Ben Youngs dummying his way over in the 62nd minute to draw the game level at 24-24.
A grandstand finish awaited but Wales closed out the match with steely professionalism, scoring 16 unanswered points including a late Cory Hill try as they profited from their opponents’ kamikaze discipline.
The self-destructive final penalty count was 14-9 against England, who have conceded a ruinous average of 13.6 penalties per game across the first three rounds.
According to Youngs, it is this statistic rather than Gauzere’s blundering that explains a second defeat of the tournament after Scotland emerged similarly convincing winners in the Calcutta Cup debacle of the opening weekend.
“Our ill-discipline was the theme of the game. We got ourselves in a position to kick on and try and win but unfortunately we just couldn’t eradicate poor discipline,” Youngs said.
“When you give away easy points you’re going to be putting yourself under pressure and eventually they were able to claw ahead.
“Credit to Wales for capitalising, but our discipline wasn’t where we’d expect it to be. It was very similar to when we played Scotland.
“That’s the most disappointing thing for me and it’s something we need to get hold of quickly and eradicate from our game.”