LONDON – England coach Eddie Jones has criticised Australia counterpart Michael Cheika for showing a lack of respect towards referee Ben O’Keeffe by trying to influence him through media comments rather than meet with him face-to-face.
In the build up to Saturday’s Cook Cup clash at Twickenham, Cheika said England had a policy of deliberately tackling the Wallaby half-backs late and would again attempt to “bully” his side this weekend.
Such is the complexity of rugby union’s rulebook that, unlike many other sports, it is customary prior to an international for the coaches of both teams to meet with the referee in order to get an understanding of his likely interpretations and general approach.
But Cheika has indicated he will skip the chance to catch-up with New Zealand official O’Keeffe.
Jones was taken aback by the approach of Cheika, his fellow Australian and a former teammate at Sydney club Randwick.
“Obviously Australia enjoy the media more than the referee,” Jones told reporters after England’s captain’s run training session at Twickenham on Friday.
“I have coached over 100 Tests, and before every Test, I have had a meeting with the referee,” added Jones, Australia’s coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England.
“It’s a sign of respect that you want to know what he wants from the game. It’s a mutual exchange of information for the benefit of the game.”
Former Japan boss Jones has yet to lose against Australia since taking over as England coach after the Wallabies knocked the Red Roses out of the 2015 World Cup.
Saturday will see England gunning for their fifth straight win over the Wallabies under Jones, and he suggested Cheika’s comments were a case of sour grapes.
“We have played four games against Australia and had good referees in those games,” Jones said.
“Obviously Cheika feels the referees haven’t done a good job, so possibly he should be taking that up with the referee, not the media.”