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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 October, 2003, 10:46 GMT 11:46 UK
Jones joins England critics
Neil Back in training with England
Neil Back believes the criticism of England is "borne out of fear"
Australia coach Eddie Jones has supported former captain John Eales' accusation of illegal tactics by England's forwards.

Eales believes the England pack are guilty of illegal shepherding in their rolling mauls and has called on referees to take action.

"From what I've seen, there is validity in what Eales is saying," said Jones.

"If you've got a situation where there's no contention for possession, we need to look at it very carefully."

Eales, who won the World Cup with Australia in 1991 and then led the triumphant campaign in 1999, said the England forwards sometimes shielded flanker Neil Back while he was directing rolling mauls from the rear without being attached.

"Effectively what he is doing is being shepherded," said Eales.

"It's certainly the equivalent of obstruction and it's the equivalent of a decoy play (in the backline). It's exactly the same except that it's in close.

I read what John Eales said - he's astute, he knows his rugby and at times it is obstruction
South Africa coach
Rudi Straeuli
"There certainly have been times when Back is neither bound to anyone nor is anyone bound to him.

"If he is floating around at the back of a maul, the referee should be saying 'ball's out' and (defenders) should be able to come at him from any angle.

"Or more specifically, the referee should give a penalty because it is clearly obstruction."

Eales' comments came after England coach Clive Woodward accused Australia's Matt Burke of obstruction in the build-up to a Joe Roff try against Argentina.

England face South Africa in their second group game on Saturday, and Springboks coach Rudi Straeuli was also keen to bring up the rolling maul issue ahead of the much-anticipated encounter.

"I read what John Eales said. He's astute, he knows his rugby and at times it is obstruction," said Straeuli.

"I will be clearing a lot of issues with the referee on Friday.

"It is quite a strong weapon England use. I think Neil Back has been scoring a lot of tries not only for England but for Leicester with that, so it is one of their weapons."

Meanwhile, France assistant coach Jacques Brunel has taken exception to England's tactics at the line-out.

"They only pretend to contest the ball, they put their arms around the opponent's jumper while he is coming down to stop him from releasing the ball," said Brunel.

"At the same time another of their players goes through and round the line-out with his arms in the air to say 'sorry ref, mistake' but he is actually slowing down their opponents' support players.

"They often manage to spoil line-out possession with these tactics."

But Back said the criticism of England was "borne out of fear" while England forwards coach Andy Robinson insisted that his pack was "very legal".

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