Is Eddie Jones the Jose Mourinho of rugby? England and Manchester United bosses have similar problems

Alex Broun 11/06/2018
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Jose Mourinho (left) of Manchester United and Eddie Jones of England

Something is wrong in the state of England.

So wrote William Shakespeare and so opined England’s most-successful ever coach, Sir Clive Woodward, after the Red Rose fell apart spectacularly in Johannesburg to lose the first Test against the Springboks after leading 24-3 in the first 20 minutes.

“Something is not right because they are normally very good defensively,” said Woodward on BBC Radio 5 live.

“The bubble has burst and teams have recognised that the way to beat England is by playing an all-out fast game.”

The defeat followed a disappointing Six Nations campaign where England lost three of their five matches, meaning Jones’ side have now lost four on the trot.

A far cry from the Australian’s start in the job, where England went on a record-equalling run of 18 Test wins in a row.

Woodward did praise the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s match as “some of the best rugby I have ever seen England play”.

But Springbok star Faf de Klerk said the Boks were confident that England would fade – as they did.

“We knew they were going to get a bit tired on the high veldt,” De Klerk said. “England were staying [at sea level] in Durban, and we wanted to take advantage.”

The decision to set-up a base camp in up market Umhlanga just outside Durban, and only travel to match venues the day or so before the game, may prove to be Jones’ undoing – as it was for Woodward when he did the same for the British & Irish Lions on their New Zealand tour in 2003.

The 2005 Lions lost all three Tests comfortably and if England does the same on this tour the clamour for Jones’ exit may grow from a murmur to a dull roar.

An extraordinary situation considering where the Australian was at less than six months ago.

Jones’ problem, like his football counterpart Jose Mourinho, is he has no plan B.

Both men have usually come into under-performing teams and their effect is immediate. They give the side a honeymoon boost and are title contenders by their second season.

Jones won Super Rugby with the Brumbies in 2001, took Australia to the RWC Final in 2003 (beating the All Blacks en route) and England won the Six Nations in his first and second year in charge.  Mourinho won second-year titles with Porto, Chelsea, Inter Milan and Real Madrid.

But even harder than getting to the top is staying there and both Mourinho and Jones have problems here – almost every coach in history has apart from notables like Bill Shankly and Sir Alex Ferguson, and modern counterparts Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) and Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors).

Mourinho and Jones’ coaching histories follow a similar pattern: promising start in season one, title glory in season two and stagnation followed by poor results, bitter acrimony and a hasty exit in season three.

Both men now have a chance to change that. Jones is in his third year with England and Mourinho is entering his third with Manchester United.

But to do that they need to abandon some of their old ideas and embrace new ones. Both men are accused of being too rigid.

Mourinho is too conservative and Jones, in complete opposite, too obsessively attacking.

United can’t score goals, despite an embarrassment of attacking riches, while England have no problem scoring tries but can’t defend them.

England seem to have lost their identity while United can’t find one.

Both men are victims of their own success and have huge expectations around them, as well as being in charge of very high-profile sporting teams, and nothing but success will be tolerated.

England are just fifteen months out from a Rugby World Cup and they will need to make a quick decision on whether or not to pull the trigger on Jones’ reign, similar for Mourinho – ongoing poor results will increase the pressure on his tenure.

For both men the magic formula for that success needs to be found – and fast.

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Saracens hooker Schalk Brits called up to Springbok squad for second Test against England

Duncan Bech 11/06/2018
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Schalk Brits playing for Saracens

South Africa have sprung a surprise by calling up Schalk Brits for the remainder of their series against England – a fortnight after he had retired.

Brits attended the first Test in Johannesburg as a fan having played what was intended to be his final game of Rugby when Saracens were crowned Aviva Premiership champions at Twickenham last month.

But with Springbok hookers Malcolm Marx and Bismarck du Plessis injured, the 37-year-old has agreed to join the squad in Bloemfontein and could be set to add to his 10 caps at Free State Stadium on Saturday.

“We’ll definitely consider him for the matchday 23 for the next two games. He’s not here just to be a ‘coach’,” said South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus, whose side won the opening Test 42-39.

“We are going to try some new things and we are going to encourage a new way of thinking. We want players to learn from guys like Schalk and his approach to the game.

“Schalk is in the same category as Bismarck in terms of experience. He knows a lot of English players well as he played against them regularly in the Premiership.

“We can only learn from him – specifically, at the scrums, line-outs and in terms of individual players.

“That made the decision to bring him back easier, but then you have to remember what a quality player he is.

“He won the Premiership with Saracens a couple of weeks ago, so he’s still on the ball.”

Brits is a popular figure in England where his dynamism and skill have lit up the Premiership, his lack of size for a modern hooker offset by his brilliance with the ball in hand.

His last Test appearance came three years ago, with his opportunities for the Springboks limited by the presence of John Smit and Du Plessis.

On Saturday he could come face to face with Saracens colleague Jamie George, the player he has helped mentor at Allianz Park, and Erasmus refuses to rule out his presence in the upcoming Rugby Championship campaign.

“After next week we will reassess. He played his last game a couple of weeks ago, so he’s still very fit. But we’ll see where he stands after the game in Cape Town,” added Erasmus.

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Weekend rugby round up: Scores and reports from all nine Test matches played across the globe

Alex Broun 11/06/2018
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The All Blacks thrashed France with a bit of help from the ref

It was an incredible weekend of international rugby with nine Test matches stretching right across the globe from Suva in Fiji to Edmonton in Canada.

Here’s our round up of all nine matches.

SOUTH AFRICA v ENGLAND in Johannesburg

In the craziest test match of the weekend England led 24-3 within the first twenty minutes with tries to Mike Brown, Elliot Daly and Owen Farrell, then somehow found themselves behind 29-27 at half time as the Boks hit back with a double to Sibusiso Nkosi and singles to Faf de Klerk and Willie Le Roux.

Some of these were due to some comical defending – Maro Itoje tripping to allow de Klerk in and Daly missing a regulation clearance to led Nkosi in for his first – but others, such as Le Roux, were simply poor defending brought on by poor attitude or alignment.

The second half was a much more standard affair with a try to Aphiwe Dyantyi putting the Boks out to a twelve point lead 39-27, before England clawed their way back to tries to Itoje and a long range score to Jonny May. But it was too little too late.

England seem to have some real issues with attitude and physical preparation and South Africa will only get better. As Rassie Erasmus said afterwards, it will be a huge game this week in Bloemfontein.

South Africa 42 (Sibusiso Nkosi 2, Faf de Klerk, Willie le Roux, Aphiwe Dyantyi tries; Handre Pollard 4 conversions, 3 penalties) defeated England 39 (Mike Brown, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Jonny May tries; Farrell 4 conversions, penalty, Daly penalty). HT: 29-27.

AUSTRALIA v IRELAND in Brisbane

Where did that come from? This was an extraordinary performance from Michael Cheika’s much maligned side led by a rejuvenated, super-human David Pocock.

Everything pointed to an Irish victory.

Australia were coming off just six days preparation, with three new caps in the 23, facing up to World No.2 Ireland, the current Six Nations Grand Slam champions, on a 12-game winning streak.

But Joe Schmidt erred in not starting all his big guns – Tadgh Furlong, Johnny Sexton, Dan Leavy and Cian Healy were all left out of the starting XV.

It opened a chink in Ireland’s armor and Pocock and the Men of Gold (closer to fluorescent yellow these days) came pouring through.

Even when Sexton was introduced in the second half, Australia’s self-belief had grown to such an extent that even the great Leinster man could make no difference.

The match was tightly poised at 11-9 before a late try to Pocock sealed it for the Wallabies – it was nothing more than they deserved, and Cheika’s team will be desperate to wrap up the series this Saturday in Melbourne.

Australia 18 (Bernard Foley, David Pocock tries; Foley conversion, 2 penalties) defeated Ireland 9 (Joe Carbery 3 penalties). HT: 8-6.

NEW ZEALAND v FRANCE in Auckland

The French were always on a hiding to nothing at a venue where the All Blacks have not lost for almost 40 Tests since 1994 but the home side were greatly assisted by some cavalier refereeing by the very confident English-man Luke Pearce.

With the score locked at 11-11 early in the second half, Pearce yellow carded France Paul Gabrillagues for a tackle on Ryan Crotty, without using the TMO for a second look. If he had taken the chance to use the video replay he would have seen that the tackle deserved a penalty if that.

Then while Gabrillagues was in the sin bin France winger Remi Grosso was hit by not one but two illegal tackles by Sam Cane and Ofa Tu’ungafasi that left Grosso’s head fractured in two places – but no action was taken by Pearce.

The sin-binning and non-sinbinning completely changed the course of the game and destroyed any brave French resistance.

The All Blacks turned on the razzle dazzle, as only they can, to score seven second half tries – one by Ardie Savea that also should not have been awarded as he was brought to ground before the line. Expect more of the same in Wellington this weekend.

New Zealand 52 (Rieko Ioane 2, Beauden Barrett, Codie Taylor, Ben Smith, Damian McKenzie, Ngani Laumape, Ardie Savea tries; Beauden Barrett 3 conversions, 2 penalties) defeated France 11 (Remy Grosso try; Morgan Parra 2 penalties). HT: 8-11.

FIJI v SAMOA in Suva

Fiji squeaked home 24-22 in their World Rugby Pacific Nations Cup opener despite having three players sin-binned at various stages.

The Flying Fijians led 17-3 at half-time, despite having centre Jale Vatubua and captain Akapusi Qera sinbinned for dangerous tackles, and stretched the lead to 24-3 while prop Eroni Mawi received a yellow card early in the second spell.

Kini Murimurivalu, Ben Volavola, Henry Seniloli and Vereniki Goneva scored tries for the defending champions, with Volavola adding two conversions.

With 20 minutes remaining Samoa started to overcome their high error count and began to pressure Fiji.

Scrum-half Melani Matavao, flanker Jack Lam and replacement scrum-half Dwayne Polataivaia all scored in the closing quarter but one missed conversion denied them a draw.

Fiji 24 (Kini Murimurivalu, Ben Volavola, Henry Seniloli, Vereniki Goneva tries; Volavola 2 conversions) defeated Samoa 22 (Melani Matavao, Jack Lam, Dwayne Polataivao tries; Tusi Pisi conversion, penalty, Ah See Tuala conversion). HT: 17-3.

GEORGIA v TONGA in Suva

Fullback Soso Matiashvili scored all of Georgia’s points as they staved off a strong finish by Tonga to win 16-15.

Matiashvili converted his own try from a 90-metre kick-and-chase, and landed three penalties as Georgia built a 16-3 lead with 10 minutes remaining.

However the Ikale Tahi (Sea Eagles), who had been pinned inside their own half for most of the match by Georgia’s accurate kicking, began to show signs of dominance when Racing 92 prop Ben Tameifuna came off the bench late in the game.

He brought stability to the pack as Tonga won two scrum penalties which led to tries by Viliami Lolohea and David Halaifonua.

But with time on the clock, a desperate attempt by Tonga to produce the match-winning points ended with a handling error.

Fiji play Georgia next week, while Tonga face Samoa.

Georgia 16 (Soso Matiashvili try, conversion, 3 penalties) defeated Tonga 15 (David Halaifonua, David Lolohea tries; Sonatane Takulua conversion, penalty). HT: 13-3.

USA v RUSSIA in Commerce City

Hooker Joe Taufete’e and winger Marcel Brache scored two tries each as the US ran in nine tries in all to beat Russia 62-13 in Colorado.

Taufete’e scored two tries in the first half and had a massive influence on the match before being replaced in the 47th minute. Brache scored on either side of halftime, including a brilliant individual try to end the first half with the United States ahead 34-13.

The former Stormers and Western Force Super Rugby player also provided a superb offload in the lead-up to a late try by Nate Augsburger.

The US play Scotland and Russia face Canada this weekend and US captain Blaine Scully said his team would have to improve to be competitive against the Scots.

USA 62 (Joe Taufete’e 2, John Quill, Paul Lasike, Marcel Brache 2, Nate Augspurger, Cameron Dolan, Blaine Scully tries; Alan MacGinty 4, Will Magie 3 conversions; Alan MacGinty penalty) defeated Russia 13 (Mikhail Babaev try; Yury Kushnarev conversion, Kushnarev 2 penalties)

JAPAN v ITALY in Oita

This was a result that surprised everyone except the Brave Blossoms.

An inspired performance from Kenki Fukuoka propelled Japan to a 34-17 win over Italy in Oita.

In front of a crowd of 25,824 the flying Japan wing scored one try, helped create another and defended heroically as Jamie Joseph’s side showed their Rugby World Cup preparations are well on track.

Flyhalf Yu Tamura weighed in with a good kicking performance while flanker Kazuki Himeno was in the thick of things up front as Japan picked up their second straight win over Italy following five losses.

Italian coach Conor O’Shea was left to rue what might have been.

“Our biggest issue is we need to finish,” the former Ireland fullback said. “We did some good things but let ourselves down.”

Japan 34 (Amanaki Mafi, Kenki Fukuoka, Lomano Lemeki, Kotaru Matsushima tries; Yu Tamura 4 conversions, 2 penalties) defeated Italy 17 (Tiziano Pasquali, Abraham Steyne tries; Tommaso Allan 2 conversions, penalty). HT: 17-14.

CANADA v SCOTLAND in Edmonton

Canada have a lot to improve on after a 48-10 shellacking by a developmental Scottish side.

George Turner struck for three tries as the Scots came away with a in front of a crowd of 12,824 at Commonwealth Stadium.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do, but there’s no better place to start than against a team of that calibre,” said Canada head coach Kinglsey Jones.

Scotland is currently ranked sixth in the world, while Canada is a distant 21st.

“The truth is we didn’t help ourselves,” said Jones. “We kicked away possession when we didn’t really need to. We needed to make those guys tackle and we didn’t do that often enough.

Canada have a chance to redeem themselves against Russia this weekend.

Scotland 48 (Byron McGuigan, Ruaridh Jackson, George Turner 3, Magnus Bradbury, Lewis Carmichael tries, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 2, Blair Kinghorn 3 conversions, Hidalgo-Clyne) defeated Canada 10 (Penalty try; Shane O’Leary penalty)

ARGENTINA v WALES in San Juan

In perhaps the most impressive performance of the weekend a young Wales side defeated Argentina to grab the sole win for top tier northern hemisphere rugby in the first weekend of action in the June test window.

Wales showed efficiency on attack and tenacity on defence to defeat Argentina 23-10 and take a 1-0 lead in the two-test rugby series.

Two try-scoring chances came Wales’ way in the first half and they nailed both, through flanker James Davies and winger George North, both assisted by halfback Gareth Davies, opening a decisive 17-3 lead by halftime.

Argentina, in contrast, lacked precision on attack and paid heavily for the defensive lapse that led to North’s try.

The Pumas had ample possession inside Wales’ half and often carried the ball through long phases inside the Welsh 22, but their attacking threat was dulled by poor handling and a lack of discipline.

They struck back with a try to flanker Tomas Lezana in the second half but it was too little too late.

The win was Wales’ first in Argentina since 2004, and was a triumph for a relatively untested combination, missing several senior players through injury.

Wales 23 (James Davies, George North tries; Rhys Patchell 2 conversions, 2 penalties, Gareth Anscombe penalty) defeated Argentina 10 (Tomas Lezana try; Santiago Gonzalez Iglesias conversion, Nicolas Sanchez penalty). HT: 17-3.

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