Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) chairman Gareth Davies believes the right call was made after it was decided to postpone the Six Nations clash with Scotland.

With the British government opting not to ban large events, it seemed as though Wales' encounter with Scotland would go ahead as planned in Cardiff on Saturday.

However, the WRU confirmed on Friday, 24 hours prior to kick-off, that the match would not be played amid the coronavirus pandemic.

"It has been a tough week," said Davies in quotes reported by BBC Sport. "But we believe it was the proper and responsible thing to do."

"I don't think we could've dealt with it any better. We made a decision last night that this match would go ahead. In a very quickly moving world things had changed by late morning today.

"We initially followed the advice of government in terms of the scientific and medical evidence and that was the case up until [Thursday] night.

"We had an emergency board meeting to consider everything and we still thought, bearing in mind the advice we had, that keeping the game on was the way to go.

"Last night the Premier League were carrying on but by this morning that had changed and the EFL went on a similar course, as did the Celtic v Rangers game, in all being called off and other major global events were also being pulled.

"We spoke to the government this morning, who understood our position."

"For us to be the only sporting event to be on, we were mindful of the seriousness of the situation. We took into account supporters, players and staff and asked whether it was essential to subject to that risk."

The sporting calendar over the next few weeks looks extremely bare as events continue to be postponed or cancelled as a result of the threat of the coronavirus.

All of Europe's top five leagues have now been suspended, as the Bundesliga followed Serie A, LaLiga, Ligue 1 and the Premier League in calling a halt to proceedings just hours before its latest round of fixtures was due to kick off.

Golf's first major, the Masters, will not take place on April 9 as initially scheduled, while the Giro d'Italia, the final Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, and marathons in London and Boston have all been affected by COVID-19, too.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 140,000, we take a look at the latest round of postponements.

 

After the PGA Tour cancelled all events leading up the Masters, all eyes were on whether the prestigious event at Augusta National Golf Club would be called off until further notice. That news arrived on Friday, with organisers saying it was "appropriate under these unique circumstances".

With around four hours to go before the first Bundesliga game of matchday 26, the league was finally suspended due to the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Germany.

Defender Timo Hubers, who plays for 2. Bundesliga side Hannover, was one of the first players across Europe to test positive for the virus, and Paderborn, who had been due to Fortuna Dusseldorf on Friday night, were waiting on tests results for their players when news came down from the league.

Clubs will meet again on Monday, with the league advising a suspension until April 2.

World Cup qualifiers in Africa were suspended, while European clubs such as Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona have stopped their players from training at their facilities for the time being.

As Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba encouraged people to "dab to beat coronavirus" and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp backed the decision to postpone the Premier League, Serie A clubs Sampdoria and Fiorentina reported positive cases involving their players in Italy, one of the worst-affected countries.

The country's major cycling race, the Giro d'Italia, will not begin as scheduled on May 9 as Hungary said it was unwilling to host the first three stages. The whole race was subsequently postponed.

Six Nations contest between Italy and England in Rome, originally slated for Saturday, had already been called off, and the only fixture of the tournament not to be postponed was put back indefinitely on Friday. Wales' clash with Scotland in Cardiff was finally called off the day before it was set to take place, while Sunday's Premiership Rugby Cup final between Sale Sharks and Harlequins has also been postponed.

South Africa's ODI tour of India will be rescheduled for another time, the first match having been washed out on Thursday, while the Boston Marathon will now take place on September 14. The new date for the London Marathon is October 4.

Elsewhere, NASCAR has postponed races in Atlanta and Miami over the next two weekends. Those races were initially going to be held without fans. All IndyCar Series races through April have been cancelled.

The Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland has been postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Until the decision, Saturday's contest in Cardiff was the only match in round five of the tournament still scheduled to take place this weekend.

The Italy v England and France v Ireland clashes had previously been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an announcement on Friday from the Welsh Rugby Union confirmed their game would also not go ahead as planned.

"The Welsh Rugby Union has maintained an open dialogue with, and continued to seek advice and direction from, the National Assembly for Wales and other stakeholders, including the Six Nations, on this fast-moving issue," read their statement, which was published 24 hours before kick-off.

"Whilst medical advice remains consistent, we have decided that it is in the best interests of supporters, players and staff to fall in line with recent measures taken across the UK and global sports industries.

"The WRU would like to thank all parties for their counsel on the subject and will make further announcements with respect to rescheduling the fixture in the coming days.

"Every effort has been made to stage this game and we appreciate that individuals will have been inconvenienced. Given the fluid and unprecedented nature of this issue a postponement became the only viable option."

The WRU had earlier said the game was still on, but the landscape changed when a host of other high-profile sporting fixtures for this weekend and beyond were cancelled or postponed amid the spread of coronavirus.

Football has been called off in England, France, Italy and Spain, along with next week's fixtures in the Champions League and Europa League.

The Test series between Sri Lanka and England has been cancelled, while in golf The Players Championship was halted after one round and next month's Masters has been postponed.

The Welsh Rugby Union still intends to stage Saturday's Six Nations match between Wales and Scotland, despite coronavirus concerns.

The UK Government said on Thursday it was not yet necessary to postpone major sporting fixtures, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson declaring there was "no medical reason at the moment to ban such events".

Wales' home fixture at the Principality Stadium is the only remaining match on the weekend's Six Nations schedule, after COVID-19 issues led to the postponement of Italy versus England and France's clash with Ireland.

However, it appears there will be action in Cardiff, with supporters told there will be "enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation" available.

"The Welsh Rugby Union [WRU] has confirmed tomorrow's Guinness Six Nations clash with Scotland at Principality Stadium will go ahead as planned," the WRU said on Friday.

"WRU representatives have been in dialogue with Welsh Assembly government minister for health and social services Vaughan Gething, who provided much needed clarity on the Cobra meeting held yesterday.

"Throughout the WRU board have followed the scientific advice of government, Public Health Wales and medical experts and determined that any game would be held or postponed based on that advice.

"Enhanced facilities for hand washing and sanitisation will be available at the stadium and there are measures in place to manage any issues with attendees on the day. In addition supporters are urged to follow the advice that is widely available on government websites in relation to the virus."

Wales and Scotland go head to head in the final round of the Six Nations on Saturday, and the Scots still have the slimmest chance of winning the title.

The tournament will not finish on schedule, with three matches yet to be rescheduled after being postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, so the wait goes on to learn who finishes as champions.

The Scots would be looking for whipping boys Italy to avoid defeat against both Ireland and England in two of those postponed matches, and for Ireland to do likewise against France, so their championship prospects appear merely mathematically possible.

Whether Scotland can beat Wales also remains to be seen, but Gregor Townsend's XV are the form side heading into the Principality Stadium clash, having won their last two matches while Wayne Pivac's side have lost three in a row.

With Opta data, we preview the weekend's lone Six Nations match:

Wales v Scotland

- Wales have won 14 of their last 16 Six Nations games against Scotland (L2), including their last eight in a row at the Principality Stadium, with Scotland’s only victory in Cardiff in the championship this century coming in 2002.

- Wales have lost their last three Six Nations games, their worst run in the championship since a five-game losing streak spanning the 2006 and 2007 editions.

- Scotland come into this match having won back-to-back games in the Six Nations, but they have not won three in a row in the Five Nations or Six Nations since 1996 when they beat Ireland, France and Wales in succession.

- Wales have scored four tries originating from inside their own half in this year’s Six Nations, the joint most of any side, with France having also scored four, while 50 per cent of Scotland’s tries (three of six) have come from that range, the highest ratio of any side.

- Scotland have won 7.8 turnovers per game on average in the tournament this year, more than any other side, while Wales have won the fewest (5.5). Scotland also boast the best tackle success rate this campaign (89 per cent) having missed a tournament-low 18 tackles per game.

- Wales have recorded the best goal-kicking success rate so far, with Leigh Halfpenny (100 per cent, 5/5) and Dan Biggar (94 per cent, 15/16) boasting the best individual rates of anyone to attempt more than one kick at goal.

- Stuart Hogg (Scotland) has gained the most metres of any player in the championship (305), averaging 76 metres per game. Another 76 metres in this match would see him become just the second player in Six Nations history to gain 3,000 metres, after Sergio Parisse (Parisse reached 3,088, Hogg is currently on 2,924).

- Hamish Watson (Scotland) has made 62 of 62 tackles in the championship, the second most of any player.

Joe Marler has been handed a 10-week suspension for grabbing Alun Wyn Jones' genitals during England's Six Nations win over Wales.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham on Saturday, but there were a number of flashpoints throughout the match, with the hosts reduced to 13 men by the final whistle after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and prop forward Marler, who appeared to grab at the Wales captain's crotch, though there was no action from the officials. 

After the incident was cited for further review, Marler appeared before an independent disciplinary committee in Dublin on Thursday and subsequently received a ban until June 8.

Marler, who did not accept that the incident warranted a red card, has the right to appeal the decision.

Meanwhile, Tuilagi also appeared before the disciplinary committee. The centre likewise did not accept his tackle on George North warranted a red card, but his appeal was rejected and he is suspended for four weeks.

Courtney Lawes was also cited following the match for a dangerous tackle on Jones.

However, the committee agreed that Lawes' tackle, while an act of foul play, was not worthy of a red card.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac hailed captain Alun Wyn Jones as the "ultimate professional" ahead of his record-equalling cap in this weekend's clash with Scotland.

Jones has been named in Wales' team for Saturday's Six Nations game in Cardiff, which is set to go ahead as planned despite the competition's other two matches being postponed amid the coronavirus outbreak.

The 34-year-old will match New Zealand icon Richie McCaw's tally of 148 Tests when running out at the Principality Stadium, nine of those coming for the British and Irish Lions.

And Pivac has paid tribute to influential skipper Jones, who made his Wales debut against Argentina almost 14 years ago.

"You just need to speak to anybody he plays against and they'll tell you what it's like to play against him," Pivac said at a news conference on Thursday.

"They hold him in high regard. I've seen first-hand what Alun Wyn does, not only on the field but in terms of training and our environment, in terms of his leadership off the field. 

"What he does is just huge. At training, the whistle blows and we'll shift from one drill to another and he's up and sprinting, the first guy there every single time.

"Then you see in a game, when he gets up off the ground, he's gone. He's the ultimate professional. 

"Every country will have someone who they will say is the ultimate professional, and in Wales, he is that guy.

"Equalling the record will be a proud moment for him and, all being well, he'll break that record and that will be an even prouder moment."

Jones will be joined in the second row by Cory Hill for Wales' concluding Six Nations fixture, as Pivac makes four changes from the 33-30 defeat to England last weekend.

Uncapped Sale Sharks prop WillGriff John and fellow front-rower Wyn Jones are also included, while scrum-half Rhys Webb will make his first Wales start since November 2017.

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV.

Stuart McInally and Magnus Bradbury have been brought into the side following last week's 28-17 win over France, while Sam Skinner will make his first start of the campaign.

"Wales are the Six Nations champions and came very close to making a World Cup final," Townsend told reporters.

"Are we underdogs? I would have thought so. We're ranked below them in the world rankings and have not won there for a long time.

"The players want to carry on the good work we've been doing and also go to a place where they have never won before and play our best game of the season."

 

Wales: Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams, Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John, Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (captain), Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi.

Replacements: Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl.

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (captain), Sean Maitland, Chris Harris, Sam Johnson, Blair Kinghorn, Adam Hastings, Ali Price; Rory Sutherland, Stuart McInally, Zander Fagerson; Sam Skinner, Grant Gilchrist; Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Magnus Bradbury.

Replacements: Fraser Brown, Allan Dell, Willem Nel, Scott Cummings, Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Duncan Weir, Kyle Steyn.

All sporting activity in Italy has been suspended until April 3 by the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) due to the coronavirus spread, with football set to be the most-impacted sport.

The CONI announcement on Monday confirmed a suspension, subject to government ratification, that many had expected.

Serie A and the Coppa Italia had already been heavily affected by postponements and matches being played behind closed doors, with Sunday's Derby d'Italia played in front of an eerily empty stadium.

A government decree had already confirmed there were to be no spectators at any sporting events until April 3, but the latest announcement followed a significant increase in coronavirus cases, with 7,375 Italians having been infected.

Many wider sporting events in Italy had already been postponed, but the suspension is arguably set to have the biggest knock-on effect in football, as it throws the Serie A title race – and relegation tussle – into chaos due to an ever-growing fixture pile-up.

Following Monday's news, here are the biggest clubs' Serie A and Coppa Italia matches set to be affected:

Juventus:

Bologna v Juventus, March 13

Juventus v Lecce, March 21

Juventus v Milan (Coppa Italia semi-final second leg), TBC

Lazio:

Atalanta v Lazio, March 15

Lazio v Fiorentina, March 20

Inter:

Inter v Sassuolo, March 15

Parma v Inter, March 22

Napoli v Inter (Coppa Italia semi-final second leg), TBC

Milan:

Lecce v Milan, March 15

Milan v Roma, March 22

Juventus v Milan (Coppa Italia semi-final second leg), TBC

With no matches set to take place until April 3, a deadline that could feasibly be pushed back even further, teams will resume the Serie A season with between 12 and 14 matches still to play.

With Euro 2020 set to begin on June 12, it leaves just 70 days between the two key dates, though facilities will have to be handed over to UEFA well before the tournament's kick-off.

If Champions League and Europa League matches continue to go ahead as planned, some Italian teams could have many as 20 matches across all competitions to cram into their schedules.

Juventus lead the way in Serie A on 63 points, and look set to be pushed the distance by Lazio. The Rome-based club are just a point shy, while Inter have fallen adrift of the top by nine.

Among the wider sporting events previously postponed through March and early April were: 

CYCLING

Tirreno-Adriatico, March 11-17

Milan-San Remo, March 21

Giro di Sicilia, April 1-4

SKIING

Alpine Skiing World Cup finals, March 18-22

RUGBY UNION

Italy v England, March 14

Coronavirus continues to have a huge impact on the sporting calendar. 

Further measures to prevent the spread of the virus were taken on Monday, affecting a plethora of sports and leagues.

More events were subject to postponements, while the sight of games taking place in empty arenas will be a common one in the coming weeks.

Here we look at the sporting decisions announced on Monday as the world attempts to tackle the outbreak.

 

Italy - All sporting activity in Italy was suspended until April 3 by the country's Olympic Committee, in a decision pending government ratification. In a statement, the committee conceded it does not have jurisdiction over international competitions such as the Champions League and Europa League.

France - Ligue 1 games are now required to be played behind closed doors or with a limit of 1,000 fans until April 15. Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday will be contested behind closed doors at the Parc des Princes.

France - The Six Nations finale between France and Ireland, due to take place at the Stade de France on Saturday, is postponed. England's game with Italy was already off, meaning it is unclear when the winner of the competition will be determined. Scotland's game with Wales in Cardiff is on, and Gregor Townsend's men can move into first place with a win. England and France are level on 13 points, with Ireland on nine having seen two games postponed.

United States - The ATP's Indian Wells Masters and WTA's Indian Wells Open were both cancelled following a confirmed case of the virus in Riverside County, California.

United States - According to ESPN, the NBA is to hold a conference call with the 30 team owners and governors to discuss the next steps for how it handles the spread of the virus in the USA, where there have been 213 confirmed cases.

Asia - FIFA confirmed the AFC qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, which were scheduled to take place in the international windows of March 23-31 and June 1-9, have been postponed.

Switzerland - Basel announced on Monday that the second leg of their Europa League tie with Eintracht Frankfurt, set to be contested on March 19, cannot be played at their St Jakob Park home due to coronavirus-related restrictions. Switzerland's top-flight, the Super League, is suspended until March 23.

Japan - The postponement of the start of the Nippon Professional Baseball regular season was confirmed at a media conference on Monday.

United States - IndyCar is not expecting any impact on its 2020 schedule as a result of the outbreak.

France - Rugby League side Catalans Dragons are waiting for an official decision from the Perpignan prefecture or government regarding Saturday's Super League game with Leeds Rhinos after the country's ban on gatherings of more than 1,000 people.

England pair Joe Marler and Courtney Lawes have been cited for incidents in England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales.

Prop Marler appeared to grasp the genitals of Alun Wyn Jones in the first half at Twickenham, leading the Wales captain to call on World Rugby to examine the footage.

The 29-year-old has been accused of an alleged infringement of law 9.27, which states that "a player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship – hair pulling or grabbing; Spitting at anyone; Grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals (and/or breasts in the case of female players)".

Lawes is also facing possible sanctions for a high tackle, also on Jones, in the second half.

The players face a disciplinary hearing on Thursday along with Manu Tuilagi, who was given a red card for a challenge on George North.

England's victory, coupled with France's defeat to Scotland, leaves Eddie Jones' side top of the standings with one match to play.

That game against Italy, scheduled for March 14 in Rome, has been postponed due to the spread of the coronavirus.

France's decisive Six Nations encounter with Ireland has been postponed due to the spread of coronavirus.

Les Bleus' hopes of a Grand Slam were ended by a defeat to Scotland on Sunday, and they are now level on points with England on 13 points after four matches.

They can still clinch the title with a victory over Ireland at the Stade de France, but now face a wait to have that fixture played.

France's sports minister Roxana Maracineanu announced on Monday that the game will not take place as scheduled on Saturday.

Maracineanu did not confirm a new date for the game, which is the second Ireland match of the tournament to be postponed.

Their clash with Italy, which had been due to go ahead last Saturday in Dublin, was also called off.

France has 1,116 confirmed cases of coronavirus, the second most in Europe behind Italy (7,375).

Gregory Alldritt was left frustrated by France's defeat to Scotland but insists Les Bleus did not get ahead of themselves in pursuit of a Six Nations Grand Slam.

A first-half red card for Mohamed Haouas proved France's undoing as they surrendered their unbeaten record in this year's competition at Murrayfield.

The visitors went down 28-17, having led through Damian Penaud when Haouas was dismissed for punching Jamie Ritchie in the face.

Sean Maitland subsequently scored either side of half-time, before Stuart McInally and Charles Ollivon traded late tries.

While French number eight Alldritt was disappointed to see the winning start come to an end, he was adamant there had been no talk of an undefeated campaign within the squad.

"There is a lot of frustration," he told BBC Sport. "But before the game, we did not think about the Grand Slam.

"We knew we had a very tough game today, and it has been a very tough game.

"Everybody was talking about the Grand Slam except us. We knew we had nothing to lose today. We are building a team and we will see next weekend against Ireland."

Haouas' red card was the obvious turning point, yet Alldritt suggested France still could have been better with 14 men.

"We cannot control everything during the game, but even with 14 on the field, we had to carry on," he said. "We made too many mistakes today to win the game."

Ritchie was on the receiving end of Haouas' blow but was reluctant to criticise his opponent.

Asked what had happened between the players, he replied: "I don't know. It's international rugby, tempers get heated sometimes. It's a physical game and sometimes stuff happens."

Mohamed Haouas collected a costly red card as France's bid for a Six Nations Grand Slam triumph was comprehensively ended in a 28-17 defeat to Scotland at Murrayfield.

After successes against England, Italy and Wales, championship leaders Les Bleus saw their winning run halted after Haouas was dismissed for punching Jamie Ritchie in the face in the 37th minute on Sunday.

France - fast starters in their prior three matches - had recovered from a slow initial spell to score through the fit-again Damian Penaud, but Scotland dominated against 14 men.

Sean Maitland crossed either side of half-time, and Stuart McInally's fortuitous third try secured an ultimately straightforward home victory, despite Charles Ollivon's late reply.

France lacked rhythm for much of the first half and Francois Cros was sent to the sin bin after just five minutes when his tackle led to Grant Gilchrist's awkward landing, before Romain Ntamack was lost to a head injury.

Scotland led when Adam Hastings kept his nerve from the tee, and a sweetly struck second penalty from the same man secured a six-point advantage that lasted until the 33rd minute.

Les Bleus suddenly moved through the gears with the break approaching, as Antoine Dupont's gorgeous cross-field kick found Penaud on the right for the opening try.

However, the fracas involving Haouas and Ritchie took the match away from the visitors, the blow to the Scotland man's head the most serious incident in a clash involving multiple players from both sides.

Hastings' latest kick subsequently restored a Scottish lead, and he wasted little time in carrying his side forward once more, resulting in Maitland's rapid try on the stroke of half-time.

Improvement in the France ranks briefly threatened a resilient second period, only for a speedy break to free Maitland once again on the right wing.

Matthieu Jalibert dispatched a penalty just after the hour mark, but there would be no dramatic fightback as McInally profited on a lucky bounce from his own poor lineout to run clear.

Ollivon battled through to claim reward for a defiant display with four minutes remaining, at least providing encouragement heading into another key clash with Ireland.
 

Ntamack's sloppy start

The France fly-half had contributed 39 points - including two tries - across his first three matches of an outstanding campaign, but this was not his day. Ntamack lasted just eight minutes, in which time he sent a penalty swirling wide and then took a whack to the head, forcing his exit following a fumble that gave Scotland an early foothold.

Haouas hinders title hopes

France had only just belatedly turned up and claimed the lead through a fine try when Haouas undid their hard work. There was pushing and shoving on either side in front of the French posts, but the visiting number three could have no complaints as he was singled out after an awful swing at Ritchie.

Maitland's favoured foes

Scotland still had to put the 14 men to the sword, and Maitland's clinical finishing did the job. This was his third appearance against France at Murrayfield and he has scored on each occasion.

What's next?

France can still recover the Six Nations title. Level on points with England entering the final round, Les Bleus host Ireland next Saturday. Scotland finish their campaign with a trip to Wales earlier in the same day.

Alun Wyn Jones is hopeful World Rugby will investigate an incident in which England's Joe Marler appeared to grab the Wales captain's genitals during Saturday's Six Nations match.

England were 33-30 winners at Twickenham, but there were a number of flashpoints in a clash that ended with the hosts down to 13 men after Ellis Genge went to the sin bin and Manu Tuilagi was sent off.

One incident missed by the officials concerned Jones and Marler.

Television pictures caught Marler apparently grabbing Jones' crotch, prompting a bemused expression from the Wales veteran but no action.

"I've got 138 Tests for my country," Jones told a post-match news conference. "If I react, I get a red card. It's tough, isn't it?

"Hopefully World Rugby have a look at it. Joe's a good bloke, lots of things happen on a rugby field.

"It's difficult as a captain these days because you can't speak to a ref about anything, it feels. I look at the touch judge. Obviously he didn't see what happened, and that's fine.

"There's a lot of footage that has been shown. It seems like a lot of supporters saw what happened.

"It's very frustrating that we talk a lot about TMOs and footage reviews, yet there doesn't seem to be a lot of it happening."

World Rugby's laws state the punishment for "grabbing, twisting or squeezing the genitals" starts at 12 weeks.

Manu Tuilagi's late red card to leave England's 33-30 Six Nations win over Wales briefly in the balance was not deserved, according to head coach Eddie Jones.

The World Cup finalists played some blistering rugby, with tries from the returning Anthony Watson, Elliot Daly and Tuilagi their reward.

However, frequent moments of indiscipline from the hosts helped to keep Wales in a captivating Twickenham contest and late scores from Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar came after Ellis Genge was sin-binned and Tuilagi saw red.

The centre's dismissal came after he struck George North's head with his shoulder – a failure to wrap his arms on the winger sealing his fate after a TMO review.

"We were expecting a tough test right to the end and we got it, but when you get 13 against 16, it's pretty hard," Jones said, as quoted by BBC Sport, after his team's Triple Crown-sealing victory.

"We've moved on as a team. You look at the Six Nations, we had a slow start, because as I've explained, I didn't prepare the team very well, and since then we've been very good.

"We played well in Scotland in poor conditions, brilliantly in the first 40 minutes against Ireland and then a tough display against a good Welsh team."

Nevertheless, amid this satisfaction, Jones was unable to let his gripes with referee Ben O'Keeffe lie.

"We trained on Wednesday ... the whole session was 13 v 16, so we had some practice - we thought it might happen," he said.

"Is that a red card all the time? Well, it's not. It's not refereed like that, but it was today. We've got to take that on board, but how else do you stop the player?"

Frustration was not solely the preserve of the England camp, with Wales boss Wayne Pivac accusing his team of being complicit in their own downfall.

"It was a game that we're disappointed not to come out on top in," he told ITV after a third defeat from four in the tournament for the reigning champions.

"We gave England a good start, we played a bit too much rugby and they were good enough to capitalise on our mistakes. After half-time, we started the way we wanted to, but we let England back in again.

"We're our own worst enemies at the minute. We're working hard behind the scenes to get it right over the 80 minutes, and I think we're heading in the right direction. We're contributing to the result in terms of too many errors. Next week is a massive opportunity to go out and try to rectify that.

"There are times you can see what we're trying to do. In the second half, there were some good attacking raids with multiple phases when we put England under pressure. If we can do that for longer periods in games, and get our game management a little bit better, we'll be in a pretty good space."

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