England head coach may have compromised his Lions future with his ill-judged, unfunny remarks about Ireland and Wales
It is just under two months since Eddie Jones signed a two-year contract extension as the England head coach until 2021. His team had won 23 from 24 Tests and everything in the Twickenham garden was spectacularly rosy. “I’m enjoying it,” he said, reflecting on his first two years at the helm. “But as we know in sport things can change very quickly.”
Just how swiftly has been underlined at England’s team hotel this week. Successive defeats by Scotland and France and Jones’s unfunny attempted “jokes” about Ireland and Wales have transformed the mood.
England’s head coach wonders whether the jingoistic sentiment, expressed before the Calcutta Cup fixture, contributed to Sunday’s ‘disgusting’ treatment
Social media, when Eddie Jones started coaching in the 1990s, meant a post-match beer with the bloke from the Sydney Morning Herald. Twitter was something that galahs did in the morning and when he graduated in 2001 to the position of Wallaby head coach precisely no one asked for a selfie. Phones were for talking to people, not pointing at celebrities.
Fast forward to 2018 and the grim video snapshot of modern British life filmed in Manchester last Sunday. There is Jones, doing the decent thing and posing for a swift photo before heading to Old Trafford to meet up with Sir Alex Ferguson. And then, all of a sudden, there he is surrounded by four increasingly aggressive strangers, taunting him about England’s Calcutta Cup defeat. Regardless of your nationality or sporting preference, the footage makes depressing viewing.
- Fit-again Te’o lines up in No13 position outside Owen Farrell
- Eddie Jones picks Courtney Lawes in the back-row for Rome trip
Ben Te’o has been handed only his second start for England after he was named at outside-centre to face Italy on Sunday. Te’o has not played at all since October due to an ankle injury but Eddie Jones has put him straight into his starting XV for England’s Six Nations opener.
Te’o also started 12 months ago against Italy, as well as in the first British & Irish Lions Test, but he suffered an ankle injury when playing for Worcester against Brive nearly four months ago. Last week he revealed that he funded a six-week rehab programme in Australia at the end of last year to ensure he was fighting fit for the Six Nations.
• Eddie Jones’ side use military technique to spot potential weakness
• Champions struggled to deal with Italy’s approach to ruck last year
England have adopted cold war military tactics to guard against the kind of embarrassment suffered as a result of Italy’s approach to the rules of engagement during last year’s Six Nations.
The defence coach, Paul Gustard, has revealed England have introduced “military red-teaming” – a practice previously employed by the US armed forces and intelligence agencies against the Soviet Union – that involves an organisation instructing an independent group to improve its effectiveness by assuming an adversarial role and probing its weaknesses.