Murrayfield's 'men in ties' earn the wrath of red rose coach

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The Independent Online

Sir Clive Woodward and his team are not scheduled to return to Murrayfield for another two years, so the Scots have plenty of time to devise new methods of annoying the world champions - a challenge they are unlikely to spurn following the England coach's sharp criticism of the way Saturday evening's Calcutta Cup match was organised. Woodward was less than complimentary about the "men in Scottish Rugby Union ties" who badgered England to take the field several minutes before the home side, complained about the dressing room facilities and warned he would no longer take notice of pre-match protocol.

"I think we are courteous and polite, almost to a fault," he said. "When we've stepped out of line in the past, we've had the kitchen sink thrown at us. Fair enough. But things happen in the Six Nations' Championship that seem designed to screw us up. We have problems here in Edinburgh, and we have problems at Lansdowne Road in Dublin. Maybe it's because we're English.

"We've just played in a World Cup where everything was brilliantly run. In this tournament, there are too many grey areas. We never seem to get an accurate running order in these places, so we're getting to a situation where we ignore the protocol and simply do what the referee tells us to do."

Woodward was flabbergasted to discover a speaker system in the England changing room, through which officials issued regular orders during the team's final preparations. "We had a 10-minute warning, a five-minute warning, a two-minute warning - it was quite amusing," the coach said. "When we travel away, we always check our dressing room for bugs; what we don't usually look for is a Tannoy. Then we had people in blazers banging on the door and telling us to take the field. When we got out there, there was no sign of the Scots. I actually went back into the tunnel to see where they were, and was almost knocked over by the bagpipe band."

England waited several minutes for Scotland to join them on the pitch. "By the time the game kicked off, it was 15 minutes since we'd left the dressing room," Woodward added. "That has to be wrong. I don't blame the referee [David McHugh, of Ireland] ... He was more annoyed than me. And I certainly don't think opposing teams experience these sorts of delays or this kind of gamesmanship when they visit Twickenham."

Four years ago, when England lost at Murrayfield but still won the Six Nations title, they failed to collect the trophy from the Princess Royal, who spent a good deal of time in the rain, waiting in vain for an appearance from Woodward's men. This little spat will again leave Woodward in bad odour with the Celts. The 2006 Calcutta Cup match should be well worth watching.

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