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Page last updated at 21:51 GMT, Monday, 23 February 2009

Borthwick seeks 'equal' treatment

Referee Jonathan Kaplan lectures Steve Borthwick at the Millennium Stadium
Borthwick (right) is given a stern talking to by referee Jonathan Kaplan

England captain Steve Borthwick is asking for his side to be treated fairly by the officials in Saturday's Six Nations game against Ireland.

Manager Martin Johnson claims England have a "perception problem" in the wake of a succession of yellow cards.

Borthwick called on Craig Joubert, who will officiate at Croke Park, not to be influenced by England's recent record.

"We hope he referees both sides equally, with the same interpretations for 80 minutes," said Borthwick.

"If that happens, then we have got a level to be accountable to."

Mike Tindall and Andy Goode were both sent to the sin-bin at the Millennium Stadium as England fell to a 23-15 defeat by Wales, following hot on the heels of Shane Geraghty and James Haskell's yellow cards against Italy in the tournament opener.

And with four players receiving 10 minutes in the bin in the autumn international against New Zealand, England have now had eight players yellow-carded in their last three Tests, as well as being on the wrong end of the penalty count.

But England's coaching staff have backed up Johnson's belief that the team is now being judged on reputation, rather than the letter of the law.

Attack coach Brian Smith went as far as to suggest that Jonathan Kaplan, who refereed at the Millennium Stadium, had come under pressure from Wales to find fault in England's play at the breakdown.

"His whole demeanour through that match, the way he addressed our team in the changing room beforehand - he had clearly had heaps of pressure put on by Wales," said Smith.

"The way our team was addressed prior to the Wales game took me a little bit by surprise. It was clear to me that Wales had done their job in terms of getting stuck into the referee.

"Fair play to them for doing it. Teams are looking at every advantage they can get.

"What we are really trying to say to the refs is: 'Please judge us the same way you judge other teams and do not come into the game with a preconceived idea'."

Nevertheless, England - who have a slight injury worry over second-choice hooker Dylan Hartley - have accepted they need to address their discipline if they are to have a chance of victory against Ireland.

"We are mindful we have to be seen to be whiter than white," said Smith.

"But we can't just back off at the breakdown. If we don't contest for the ball we could be blown away in the first half.

"We want the referee to make sure they keep Ireland honest in that area because we want to play rugby."

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see also
Italy 9-38 Ireland
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 30-21 France
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England talent drain worries RFU
19 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Trio quit Wasps to play in France
17 Feb 09 |  London Wasps
Cipriani tipped for England call
15 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Wales 23-15 England
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations as it happened
14 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union
England 36-11 Italy
07 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union

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