All Blacks accused of ‘illegal’ scrummaging as England legend urges Steve Borthwick to report it to World Rugby

Colin Newboult
All Blacks scrummaging and former England hooker Brian Moore.

All Blacks scrummaging and former England hooker Brian Moore.

Ex-England hooker Brian Moore felt that the Red Rose were hard done by with some of the decisions at the scrum during Saturday’s defeat to the All Blacks.

New Zealand dominated the front-row battle in the tight 16-15 victory, with props Joe Marler, Fin Baxter, Will Stuart and Dan Cole struggling against their opponents.

The All Blacks’ scrum was rewarded, especially in the first half, by the referee, who felt it was the Englishmen that were getting it wrong in the set-piece.

However, Moore insisted it was in fact Ethan de Groot that should have been penalised after “illegally” getting the hosts on the front foot.

Raising the matter with the powers that be

It is standard procedure for coaches to provide feedback to the relevant people at World Rugby over any concerns they have with the officiating, and the former front-rower believes that Steve Borthwick should raise it.

“England’s scrum got on the wrong side of the referee but, as pinpointed by Sky Sports’ co-commentator David Flatman, that was because Nika Amashukeli failed to notice that Ethan de Groot was illegally shifting outside Will Stuart and driving straight upwards,” Moore wrote in his Telegraph column.

“I am not knocking the Kiwi loosehead – you get away with what you can in the front-row. However, to get a handle on this you either have to make it a flashpoint that the referee has to deal with, or Stuart has to bore into the opposition hooker and drive inside De Groot, both of which, by the way, are also illegal.

“It is not the MO of Borthwick to publicly complain about this sort of thing, but he should at least raise it via official channels in private.”

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De Groot was penalised in the second period for not driving straight and soon after that was replaced by Ofa Tu’ungafasi on the loosehead side.

Fletcher Newell also came on for the All Blacks while the experienced Cole joined the action after the break as Stuart was moved on to the bench.

New Zealand continued to control the set-piece, however, and Moore did not have any complaints with how that played out in the latter stages.

The scrum was a factor in England’s defeat but so was the errant place-kicking of Marcus Smith, who missed two relatively simple penalties that would have added six points to England’s total.

Smith was similarly awry with a much more difficult conversion after Immanuel Feyi-Waboso touched down a few minutes into the second half.

Some observers stated that those kicking errors decided the end result, but the England great felt it was more complex than that.

“It would be correct to claim that had Marcus Smith kicked his goals England might have won but New Zealand also missed kicks,” he wrote.

“What must have disappointed Smith most is that he did not strike the ball well, on top of the inaccuracy. However, in trying to discern the reasons for defeat you also need to look more deeply than the kicking stats.”


Despite the loss, there were plenty of positives from the clash in Dunedin as England continued their upward trajectory from the recent Six Nations in terms of performances.

“England matched New Zealand for most of the 80 minutes when it came to the intensity and pace of the game,” Moore added.

“When you watched the Australia v Wales game that followed, England’s overall effort was of a higher level than both those teams and it matched the standard of the South Africa v Ireland Test later that day.

“It was evidence that the level they set in the games against Ireland and France in this year’s Six Nations was not an aberration but a base on which to build.”

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