England duo suspended following ball switching

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Updated: September 29, 2011

Between midget throwing and now the ball scandal, the headlines for England during this year’s Rugby World Cup have come for the wrong reasons.

Like Ireland, England face a do or die clash with Scotland on Saturday. Ahead of the crucial game for both sides, the RFU have suspended two of their backroom staff following an internal investigation. Assistant coach Dave Alfred and fitness guru Paul Stridegeon have both been handed one game bans for their part in the Jonny Wilkinson ball switching incident.

The England goal kicker switched balls before converting one of England’s tries in their comfortable win over Georgia.  Law 9.8.1 states the kicker must convert tries with same ball that was touched down, unless the referee agrees it is defective. It didn’t just happen once but on a number of occasions.

However England did not consult the match officials before making the switch, with the RFU’s investigation finding that Alred and Stridgeon “mistakenly thought that there was an issue with some of the match balls”.

The rest of the RFU statement read:

“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 rugby.

“The RFU has therefore decided to reprimand those team management members, to warn them as to their future conduct and to suspend them from participation in England’s next game, the match between England and Scotland.

“This suspension means that they will not be able to be in the stadium for that match in any capacity.”

The Rugby World Cup limited will not take in further action but England have been warned over their future conduct.

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