England coach Eddie Jones doesn't keep up appearances
Where most will flee the eye of the storm‚ England coach Eddie Jones is more likely to raise an eyebrow.
Trust him to court controversy‚ or impart sense to imbroglio.
The garrulous Australian is certainly partial to some verbal jousting but you have to feel for him in the lead up to the three-Test series against the Springboks starting on Saturday.
Jones‚ you see‚ is under pressure for a variety of reasons.
After a stellar start to his England coaching career‚ which saw England win 18 Tests in a row (17 under Jones) including successive Six Nations crowns‚ the English have fallen on hard times of late.
Defeats in the Six Nations to Scotland‚ France and Ireland were followed by humiliation at the hands of the Barbarians who put 60 points on England in their most recent outing.
England’s most recent record has had some observers wondering whether the team‚ having hit the highest peaks‚ isn’t on the same slippery slope Jones’s previous sides found themselves on.
Injuries of course haven’t helped‚ but Jones can’t use this as a crutch.
He is in a very public spat with some clubs owners in England who are furious‚ accusing him of having a hand in the growing number in the Red Rose infirmary.
In his latest barb Jones fired a broadside at Bath owner Bruce Craig calling him ‘the Donald Trump of rugby’.
The club owners have been at pains to point out that 14 players‚ while in camp with England‚ were injured on Jones’ watch.
Beno Obano will not play for a year‚ Tom Ellis is out for nine months‚ Sam Underhill for three‚ while Wasps flank Sam Jones will never play again after suffering injury while with England.
Dylan Hartley‚ Ben Te'o‚ Nick Schonert‚ Marcus Smith‚ Anthony Watson‚ Jack Nowell‚ Dave Attwood‚ Tommy Taylor‚ Jonny May and George Kruis all suffered orthopaedic upheaval serious enough for them to leave the England camp.
Having club owners nag at you‚ particularly when they can make your existence distinctly uncomfortable‚ is a matter Jones would want to address at the end of the series.
Whether the coach will‚ may be out of his character.
Jones can be belligerent‚ which is probably at the heart of another matter that has drawn unwanted attention to the Aussie coach‚ and England.
His decision to include New Zealander Brad Shields in his touring squad‚ with the Hurricanes captain only set to move to Wasps next season‚ has drawn wide criticism.
World Rugby vice chairman Agustin Pichot has serious reservations about the decision.
He tweeted: ‘Something is missing. We are loosing (sic) something… the game is loosing (sic) something…’
Shields‚ who qualifies for England because his parents were born there‚ represented New Zealand at the Junior World Cup in 2011.
It is a matter that will soon enough die down‚ but is an illustration of the regard the England coach holds for public opinion. Jones is indubitably a first-class coach and his press conferences can be pure theatre.
He can be abrasive‚ but he can also charm‚ as he did when he fronted the media earlier this week in Durban.
He spoke of the significance of South Africa’s World Cup win at Ellis Park in 1995 and what it meant not just to the country‚ but the global rugby community.
It’s at the same venue where Jones on Saturday‚ has to start turning opinion back into his favour.
For that‚ his team will have to do all the talking.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.