England defence coach Kevin Sinfield sat down with the media today alongside second-row player Ollie Chessum as they detailed their build-up to this weekend’s game against South Africa.
It is an exciting time for an England side that were given little to no chance by fans prior to the competition, as the squad are now just one win away from a World Cup final. If they are to take their opportunity against South Africa, then the final would more likely than not be a showdown between the four-time finalists, England, and the three-time winners, New Zealand.
Whatever happens in those 80 minutes on Saturday, however, Sinfield is keen not to pass on any blame elsewhere, least of all towards the officials. When asked about the recent flurry of ‘ref blaming’, the England coach had the following to say:
“We have full respect for whoever takes charge. It’s a big game and I don’t think we’ve ever critisised a referee during this campaign.
“We understand what a tough job it is, we are a pretty disciplined team at the minute, and it’s something we talk about a lot, and we need to be disciplined in a whole host of ways Saturday evening.”
These comments come after the recent inflammatory comments by Antoine Dupont surrounding certain decisions. Speaking in front of the world’s press after France’s defeat to South Africa, Dupont was asked to give his thoughts on the performance of New Zealand referee Ben O’Keefe.
“It’s hard to talk about things because there is a lot of disappointment, a lot of frustration”, started Dupont. “We want to see the images again – which will give us even more disappointment and even more frustration – but I think some clear and obvious things weren’t whistled.
“I don’t want to be a bad loser and moan about the refereeing but I’m not sure the level of refereeing was up the level of the game today.
“I don’t know if the match was lost at that point, but at crucial moments, we could have had a penalty. When you’ve gone forward 60 metres and you’re slowed down in the rucks, it’s pretty easy to whistle.
“That doesn’t take anything away from the South Africans’ great game, who got on top of us at the breakdown. They played a great game.”