Tuesday, November 30News That Matters

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Has anyone got the bottle to keep Eddie Jones under control?

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.

Eddie Jones has been spending time working on his consultancy role at Suntory Sungoliath

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.

The England coach has been in Japan advising Suntory and Beauden Barrett (above)

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.

The Australian holds a consulting role at Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath

The Australian holds a consulting role at Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath

The Australian holds a consulting role at Japanese side Suntory Sungoliath