Wales vs England: Welsh dragons fan the flames by questioning some of England's midfield moves ahead of tournament opener

Wales coach raises doubts over legality of visitor's attacking on eve of crucial clash in Cardiff

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The Independent Online

Wales cranked up the temperature ahead of the huge Six Nations contest with England at the Millennium Stadium by accusing the visitors of playing fast and loose with the obstruction law in some of their midfield moves.

Shaun Edwards, the home side’s defence coach, also questioned the legality of the red-rose maul, which is likely to be one of their principal attacking weapons. “They’ll come at us with rugby league plays, passing the ball out the back,” said Edwards, whose own stellar career in the 13-man game is the stuff of legend in and around Wigan.

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“Our structures will need to be right, but it’s also important that there is no obstruction of our defensive players ahead of the ball. A lot of tries are disallowed in league because of that. I’m sure the referee [Jérôme Garcès of France] and the television match official will be well aware of it.”

On the subject of the driving maul, he raised concerns over the mass drive used by England during their match with the Springboks during the autumn. “We were the first to integrate the 13-man line-out, while England started with the usual line-out and then had the backs join in,” he remarked. “But they joined too early, before the maul had gone off the line. It was a big turning point in that game.”

England were in no rush to respond in kind, with Mike Catt, one of their assistant coaches, expressing bemusement at the comments about decoy runners. “If there was a problem, the referees would be penalising us – and they’re not penalising us,” he said. “If there’s no contact with a defender, there’s no obstruction. Still, Shaun has found a way of getting his views out there.”

The match, the opener for this year’s Six Nations, will be played at a buzzing Millennium Stadium, with Wales hot favourites as England have been hit by injuries.

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