London: World Rugby said Monday it is investigating reports that England coaching staff made an illegal approach to match officials at half time in their devastating loss by Australia.
According to media reports two England coaches made the approach as the two teams left the field at Twickenham on Saturday with England trailing 17-3. Head coach Stuart Lancaster was not among them however.
"World Rugby is investigating an alleged breach by the England coaching team of the match-day communications protocol between match officials and team members or union officials," said a World Rugby statement.
"The protocol prohibits certain conduct on match days including coaches approaching match officials during a match or at half-time during a match," the statement added.
Media reports have suggested that there is CCTV footage from the tunnel where the alleged incident took place.
England, now in crisis after being dumped out of the World Cup, made no immediate comment.
Australia defence coach Nathan Grey said he had not noticed anything out of the ordinary.
"That's the first I've heard on that," said Grey at the Wallabies morning press conference when asked about whether he had seen anything or heard mention of it.
Australia coach Michael Cheika received a formal warning from Super Rugby governing body SANZAR (South Africa, New Zealand and Australian Rugby) earlier this year after he approached referee Jaco Peyper at half-time during his New South Wales Waratahs' win over the Blues in Sydney.
SANZAR's investigation ruled Cheika had a "short and polite exchange" with Peyper seeking clarification over a scrum interpretation, but added there was no evidence the South African referee's subsequent officiating of the match had been influenced by the discussion.