Referee meetings about respect: Jones

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

England coach Eddie Jones has suggested it would be disrespectful if the Wallabies didn’t meet with referee Ben O’Keeffe ahead of their Twickenham showdown this weekend.

Michael Cheika accused England of dirty tactics on Thursday, saying he expected them to ‘bully’ his side and target their halves late, something they did to successfully rattle the Wallabies in 2016.

Cheika said on Thursday that he had not seen referee Ben O’Keeffe this week, and while didn’t see the point of highlighting the tactics to the Kiwi ahead of the game, it is understood the Australian camp will be meeting with the official before Saturday.

"I won’t highlight it to the ref, what’s the point? It’s part of the game," he said at the time.

Jones, on Friday morning, said he would be meeting with O’Keeffe, even joking he might have an eye checkup from the trained eye specialist, something he said was about respect.

“100  per cent – we always meet the referee there is nothing unusual about that and I might get my eyes checked by him,” he said.

The England mentor accused Cheika of trying to influence the official through the media, after his comments earlier in the week.

“Obviously they (Australia) enjoy the media more than the referee,” he said.

“I have coached over 100 Tests and every Test I have had a meeting with the referee and it is a sign of respect that you want to know what he wants from the game and what we want and it is a mutual exchange of information for the benefit of the game.

“We have played four games against them (Australia) and had good referees in those games and he obviously feels the referees haven’t done a good job, so possibly he should be taking that up with the referee not the media."

Relationships with referees were an issue for the Wallabies against England in 2016, but it’s an area the side has worked on in the past year.Ben O'Keeffe will be refereeing the England-Australia game at Twickenham on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesJones said he wasn’t sure if Cheika’s comments could ultimately backfire on the Wallabies, but suggested they were more interested in ‘games’.

“I don’t know about all that fun and games,” he said.

“They want to play a lot of games at this stage.

“The referee is an intelligent guy and I'm sure he won't be influenced by comments made in the press.”

Jones also dismissed the ‘bullying’ tag that the Wallabies bestowed on them on Thursday, over the late hits.

“We've played four games against Australia, there have been great referees in each of those four games,” he said.

“We play by the rules and are happy to stand by that.

"We have had a good preparation and those comments by Australia is literally water off a duck’s back."

Australia takes on England on Saturday November 18, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 2am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sports and SBS.