Saturday, December 4News That Matters

Eddie Jones’ consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory is defended by the club’s coach

Eddie Jones‘ trip to Suntory has been defended by the Japanese club’s coach, who branded the backlash ‘ridiculous’.

The England head coach has faced criticism for sharing ‘golden’ information with All Blacks playmaker Beauden Barrett as part of his consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath.

Sportsmail columnist and World Cup winning England head coach Sir Clive Woodward has been a fierce critic, saying Jones’ role ‘makes English rugby look ridiculous’. 

However, Suntory coach Milton Haig told Sportsmail: ‘Eddie’s role with Suntory has been pretty well documented so it shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Eddie Jones has been defended for his consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath

Eddie Jones has been defended for his consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath

Eddie Jones has been defended for his consultancy role with Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath

‘His wife has been here for months so he originally came over to see his family. He’s a rugby man and this club has a special place in his heart. It’s an important time of the season and he came in to run the rule over what we’re doing.

‘You could turn it around and say he was fishing for All Blacks secrets, which is pretty smart.

‘He’s been picking our brains for certain information and he speaks to guys like Beauden as well. 

New Zealand star Beauden Barrett revealed he has worked with the England coach directly

New Zealand star Beauden Barrett revealed he has worked with the England coach directly

New Zealand star Beauden Barrett revealed he has worked with the England coach directly

‘If the best players in the world are talking to you, you learn from that as a coach. It’s a two-way street.

‘For me, it’s ridiculous to think that he has any conflict of interest. He’s loyal to England and he’s always shared his knowledge. 

‘He goes to some of the best coaches in the world and speaks to them. Likewise he never turns you down if you need to pick his brains and that shows his love of the game.’

Meanwhile, Wales star George North was ‘heartbroken’ after being ruled out of this summer’s Lions tour with a knee injury.

Suntory coach Milton Haig insists Jones does not have a conflict of interest in his extra role

Suntory coach Milton Haig insists Jones does not have a conflict of interest in his extra role

Suntory coach Milton Haig insists Jones does not have a conflict of interest in his extra role

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Has anyone got the bottle to keep Eddie Jones under control? His coaching role in Japan makes English rugby look RIDICULOUS… he should be 100% focused on the job and can afford absolutely zero distractions 

This makes English rugby look ridiculous and makes you question once again what exactly is going on.

I am one of the very few people who is qualified to state, categorically, that if you are going to coach England in the professional era, you can afford absolutely zero distractions — and I mean zero.

Everything has to take second place. At times that even includes your family, who have to make big sacrifices to give you the time and space to do the job properly. It is all-consuming.

Heaven knows how you combine coaching England with writing books and running parallel coaching consultancies in other parts of the world. That can all come afterwards if that is what you want; a happy by-product of doing a good job with England. But when you are in situ it’s 24/7, all year round. As head coach you demand 100 per cent commitment from your players and you must give it back in return.

I assume that contractually Eddie has not transgressed and that the RFU were fully aware of his movements but that says everything about those who Jones reports to.

In anyone’s language it is a really bad look. The England coach in Japan coaching and advising with Suntory and Beauden Barrett just weeks after a miserably poor Six Nations campaign.

It says so much about the muddy thinking at the RFU. Does the CEO Bill Sweeney not see how that is neither acceptable nor wise? Is there nobody at Twickenham with the rugby experience, nous or bottle to tell Jones in some very simple language that the England rugby coach must commit himself solely to that job?

Contracts are not needed, just common sense and an understanding of professional sport.

It’s not rocket science but the failure to mount a proper critical debrief after the 2019 World Cup meant England have been meandering aimlessly ever since and this is just another example. They are beginning to add up.

Eddie has been a distracted figure for a good while. I noticed it in the week before the World Cup final in Japan when there was simply too much stuff going on in the build-up.

It was more like the Oscars as opposed to a team and coach preparing for the biggest game of their lives. Nothing has changed since.

Last week’s whitewash of a review contributed nothing to sharpening up England and getting to the crux of the matter. If anything, it supported a coaching regime which really has lost its way. England need to start identifying what has been going wrong and fix it.

And having their coach 100 per cent focused on the job would be a very good start.

<!—->

Advertisement