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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 10:58 GMT 11:58 UK
England hit back at critics
England coach Clive Woodward
Woodward makes light of the 'nonsense'
England dismissed criticism of their 'rolling maul' tactic on Friday.

Australia coach Eddie Jones joined the list of England's critics on Thursday, but England coach Clive Woodward said the issue would not affect his players.

"We expected to get blasted by most people in this tournament, whoever they are. So we just feed off it, kind of enjoy it," Woodward said.

The issue has been widely covered in the media, but Woodward said: "The team just smile at whatever is written now."

Assistant coach Andy Robinson said the ploy did not break any rules.

"Our mauling is an outstanding part of our game, and it's an outstanding part of the English game," he said as England prepared for Saturday's crunch match with South Africa.

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE MAUL?
Rules say ball may be carried in maul if ball carrier has opposition players around him
England (in white) feed ball back to No.7 in maul
No.7 only loosely connected to front of maul
Opponents cannot tackle No.7 as they would be offsite
Opponents say England tactic is deliberate obstruction
"If you look at our league, it's totally legal."

England's forward play has been subject to intense media scrutiny following comments by Australian legend John Eales that their rolling maul sometimes broke the law.

Woodward said a lot of "nonsense" had been said, and written, about the England team.

"We even heard the Canadian coach talk about it this week and I don't know what he's got to do with it, apart from the fact he's Australian," he said.

"The most important thing is what the referees think - and the referees are very, very clear, and very happy with what we do.

"But it's the sort of nonsense we'd been expecting and we've only been here a week and played one game against Georgia, so we're expecting a lot more."

Woodward said he was not concerned that the furore may influence the match officials for Saturday's game, which will be refereed by Australia's Peter Marshall.

"We had a very good meeting with Peter yesterday," said Woodward.

"We were delighted when he was chosen for this game all those months ago.

"He's very experienced, and he will not be affected by any media pressure. He was very clear yesterday, and unlike a lot of rugby journalists he does know the rules."





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