England have been accused of getting away with illegal scrummaging over several years – with Joe Marler named as the culprit in chief – by an old Australian rival ahead of Saturday’s crunch Rugby World Cup clash against the Wallabies.

The set-piece is traditionally one of England’s main weapons and a significant point of Australian weakness, and will be key to achieving forward dominance at Twickenham as the hosts battle against a humiliating Pool stage exit at their own big show.

So Bob Dwyer, who coached Australia to World Cup final victory over England at HQ in 1991, has fired a significant shot in the phoney war ahead of the mouthwatering match by claiming England’s reputation for fearsome scrummaging is based on nothing but illegal tactics, mainly committed by Marler.

‘So much of the scrum is based on perception,’ Dwyer told the Telegraph. ‘The English work on having a reputation for legal scrummaging while doing the opposite. If I was (current Australia coach) Michael Cheika, I would be asking the referee: “is that allowed?”.

Dwyer’s main accusation is that Marler, England’s loosehead prop, drives into the scrum at an illegal ’45-90 degree’ angle – rules state that props must drive straight in a scrum – targeting his opposing prop and attempting to pressure the opposition’s scrum into rotating out of position, leading to loss of possession or conceding penalties.

England forced four penalties at the scrum against Wales at Twickenham last Saturday, one area of clear supremacy over their opponents amid an otherwise demoralising defeat. England have also used the scrum as a platform to inflict painful defeats on Australia, notably when Andrew Sheridan destroyed the Wallaby front row in the World Cup quarter-final in 2007.

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