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Eddie Jones's antagonistic personality should be of concern to the RFU - MW


A few stages over the next two weeks, Eddie Jones will have dinner with Rugby Football Union's CEO, Bill Sweeney, to discuss the future. There will be no shortage of agenda items, especially the failure of a temporary Anglo-Welsh competition that is sometimes more like rolling ball than rugby. England may have obtained a crown three times, but not for the first time, the landlord won some awards for grace or diplomacy.

Does it matter how a national team behaves as long as it wins? Jones has never been burdened too much by such considerations but in the coming months, the RFU has a fundamental decision to make. Will it stick with the devil it knows and renew its vow to a man who increasingly threatens the position of Jose Mourinho, the country's most difficult coach? Or it takes a more comprehensive view, Marmite's decision to take a lesser personality that will improve the 2023 World Cup squad and tell Jones that his contract will not be extended upon expiry next year. ?
This truncated Six Nations campaign - as has not been seen when England's last match in Italy will take place - has provided evidence to support both arguments. On the one hand, Jones doubted turning England into a stronger, tougher team; on the other hand, he underperformed in Paris and owed Scotland a large beer to revitalize the Six Nations title race.

Undoubtedly for his owners, undoubtedly, will be domination and antagonism which is now a recurring theme in the Jones era. Publicly criticizing Saturday's referee, Ben OiênKeeffe, for giving Manu Tuilagi a legitimate red card not only sent a gloomy message to the young players but also to his own senior squad. Is it completely coincidental that England, as underlined by Joe Marler tightening his penis, tends to do silly, unnecessary things without real reason?

It is frustrating because, ignoring PR disaster, debauchery choices and occasional excessive words, Jones has helped improve some individuals. With Tom Curry growing in stature by week, Maro Itoje was an initiator of the nailing World XV and, probably most of the uncut diamonds like Kyle Sinckler and Ellis Genge were put into real contracts. A year ago, a sincere Sinckler yellow card in Cardiff gave Wales an important winning motivation. Now he is a more calm, changing man that any team in the world loves in their ranks.

Perhaps that happened anyway, but Sinckler, who was setting up his own foundation to help the inner-city children from London overcome the anger he once felt, was glad to believe that Jones kept faith in him after the Cardiff event. Most coaches will eliminate me. I definitely had to pay the team a big competition and maybe I had to spend everyone's money on a reward. At that time, my ego was bigger than this room. I always had to have someone up. Looking back, I really enjoyed being that villain - the bad boy of English rugby. I was very angry. I have to show a lot of gratitude to Eddie for always being stuck and protecting me. I always felt like he got the best from me.


It is the flip side of the Jones coin. Players such as Sinckler, who revealed on Saturday night his mother was “badly racially abused” at a youth tournament during his formative days with Battersea Ironsides RFC, are embraced and urged to fulfil their potential. If he, Genge, Curry, Itoje, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Henry Slade, Anthony Watson, Ben Earl and co stay together there is no reason on paper why England should not be serious World Cup contenders next time.

Before the RFU rushes headlong into anything, however, it needs to consider whether another coach might be better suited to taking England to the next level? In the Premiership the talent identification skills and galvanising powers of Pat Lam, Rob Baxter, Chris Boyd and Mark McCall are obvious. After the next Lions tour to South Africa Warren Gatland might well be available. Reappointing Jones is not the only available option, although he is starting to sound slightly more enthused about staying put. Assuming the tour to Japan in July goes ahead, he plans to blood new players and insists the team is on the up. “I think the team is growing, We’ve developed and are going in the right direction.”

It is certainly true that England’s pack now takes some crushing even in the absence of the Vunipola brothers. The sight of George Kruis waving to the crowd strongly suggested a changing of the second-row guard but, with Steve Borthwick departing for Leicester imminently, the new forwards coach, Matt Proudfoot, has helped stiffen the set piece. There was too much power, ultimately, for a gallant Wales, although the visitors were responsible for the contest’s best moment, a glorious counterattack immediately after half-time creating a galloping score for the excellent Justin Tipuric.

Given another couple of minutes against a 13-man England at the end, Wales might even have nicked it, which possibly explained Jones’s mixed post-match emotions. “I never enjoy coaching. Winning is a relief. Anyone who tells you they enjoy coaching is lying. If you win you feel good for 24 hours and then you’re back into it.” So will he tell Sweeney he fancies staying until 2023? “I don’t know, mate. I think we’ve got dinner organised in a couple of weeks so we may be able to chat about it. It must be his shout. I’ll take a triple crown to show him.” It has all the ingredients of a very interesting meal.

MW

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