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The message England have sent to Nigel Owens ahead of Le Crunch

England has urged referee Nigel Owens to crack down on any attempts by France to deliberately slow the game in their Six Nations clash at Twickenham today.

Eddie Jones has highlighted the difficulty of playing at pace against Les Bleus due to the variety of tricks they employ to reduce the game to a speed that suits their substandard conditioning.

It would have beem among the issues raised by Steve Borthwick when the forwards coach spoke with Nigel Owens at the customary eve-of-match referees’ meeting and England are confident the Welsh official will be alert to the threat.

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“It’s difficult – just look at ball-in-play time,” said Jones.

“We have just had the Japanese coaches with us for the week – Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown – and they are aiming to have a ball-in-play time of close to 50 minutes,” he added.

“France average 30 minutes. They kick the ball out a lot and look for long stoppages before scrums,” added the Australian, who will hope England can build on their opening 32-20 win away to Six Nations champions Ireland.

“It is hard to get pace in the game now the way the game is being refereed because increasingly we are getting longer stoppages, which I don’t think is healthy for the game.”

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