England head coach Steve Borthwick has appeared to question what he perceives as a silence from World Rugby during the ongoing debate over head contacts and consistency in officiating.
The opening weekend of the Rugby World Cup was in part overshadowed by a series of contentious incidents, with Tom Curry shown a red card after making head-to-head contact with Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia in the opening minutes of England’s Pool D opener.
A similar challenge from Chile captain Martin Sigren resulted in a yellow card, while Jesse Kriel’s tackle on Jack Dempsey was not reviewed live and the South African centre was subsequently cleared by the citing commissioner.
That has led to a renewed discussion on how high tackles are being managed by the officials, with a number of prominent pundits and ex-players questioning the “consistency”.
The debate was raised again when France lock Romain Taofifenua received only a yellow card during the hosts’ near miss against Uruguay on Thursday night.
Asked about that perception after naming England’s team to face Japan in Nice this weekend, Borthwick did not directly comment, but did suggest that the governing body’s silence on the matter this week stood in contrast to their involvements in a convoluted disciplinary process that eventually led to Owen Farrell being banned for his side’s first two games of this tournament.
“It has been said and noted that there has been a large amount of commentary from different sources about what appears to be a lack of consistency and transparency in the decision making process,” Borthwick said.
“Now it’s not my role to comment on that, it’s World Rugby’s. I also note there was a tremendous amount of comment from World Rugby on Owen Farrell for a couple of weeks during our preparation for this tournament.
“It was a situation that went on and on with lots of comment from World Rugby. I note there hasn’t been very many comments from World Rugby – I’m told – in the last week or so. I will leave that to World Rugby.”
Asked if he wanted the game’s governing body to speak up, Borthwick added: “It’s not my matter. It’s for World Rugby.’
England have replaced Curry in their starting side with Lewis Ludlam, with Ben Earl moving across the openside. Joe Marler and Kyle Sinckler take over from Ellis Genge and Dan Cole as the starting propping pair.
Japan, meanwhile, have been able to recall captain and star back row Kazuki Himeno, who was a late scratch from their opening fixture against Chile due to injury.