England warned ahead of time-wasting crackdown by referees in Autumn Nations Series

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

England will be warned this week that Test referees are prepared to penalise time wasting in the Autumn Nations Series.

World Rugby wants referees to whittle down breaks in play, to boost the Test match entertainment factor.

The latest buzz phrase amid directives to officials is “ball in flow”, as an extension of the self-explanatory ball in play.

Governing body World Rugby sees “ball in flow” as meaningful action while the match clock is ticking, Standard Sport has learned.

So that means more match action and less prepping for, and moving to and from, set-pieces.

French referee Mathieu Raynal polarised opinion with his match-defining penalty against Australia’s Bernard Foley in September’s Rugby Championship clash.

Fly-half Foley was pinged for time wasting when delaying a penalty kick to touch in the dying seconds of Australia’s Melbourne thriller with New Zealand.

Raynal reversed the penalty for Foley's delaying tactics, teeing up the All Blacks to score from the eventual scrum, steal a 39-37 victory and leave the Wallabies incensed.

Australia felt robbed, while others praised Raynal’s hard-line approach. As Foley’s team-mates screamed at him to punt the penalty to touch, the outside-half delayed just too long and paid the ultimate price.

Rugby Australia would later write to World Rugby in protest at the decision.

World Rugby is not though to anticipate such potent application of the laws on a regular basis, but Test teams will be told to expect orders to speed up processes within matches, certainly in preparing for scrums and lineouts.

Rugby’s lawmakers are understood to be content with the current balance within the game, that has yielded high-scoring, intrigue-laden contests at both club and Test level in the last 12 months.

Should that exhilarating status quo continue then any meaningful law tweaks would seem unlikely ahead of the 2023 World Cup in France.