Six Nations: England coach Eddie Jones needs to sit down and shut up

Alex Broun 9/02/2018
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Okay Eddie – enough.

Yes you have done a truly remarkable job in guiding England to 23 wins out of 24 starts since you took over, winning back-to-back Six Nations titles and taking England to No2 in the world rankings, but seriously, your behaviour is getting out of hand now.

I know everybody loves a good quote – and in a world of the dryest of dry sports personalities you are an oasis of colourful verbiage – everybody is glad for that. But you are taking things too far.

All good to talk up your team and promise them to be “brutal and absolutely ruthless” but when you start taking potshots at opposing players it really is beyond the pale.

It is the greatest irony that Jones is criticising Wales captain, Lions legend and all-round good guy Alun Wyn Jones for being “out of order” for trying to slow down Finn Russell’s conversion last week against Scotland.

It is the England coach’s comments that are out of order, both in his bizarre attack on Alun Wyn and also on his off-field targeting of new Wales fly-half Rhys Patchell.

Jones must be very very confident of an England victory, or else he wouldn’t be stoking the Welsh fire with the ammunition that he is giving Warren Gatland to fire up his troops at Twickenham on Saturday.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 03: Wales player Rhys Patchell runs at the Scotland defence during the NatWest 6 Nations game between Wales and Scotland at Principality Stadium on February 3, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Rhys Patchell has been one of Eddie Jones’ targets.

If Gatland needs a fire-and-brimstone team talk all he needs to do is stick Jones’ comments up on the wall. Nothing will galvanise the Red Dragons to heroic feats more than defending the honour of their captain and standing beside a new brother.

The only explanation for Jones’ rash remarks is that he has got carried away – as he did when he was sanctioned by World Rugby for being caught swearing on camera during the autumn internationals, unhappy with a referee’s decision.

But now Jones’ is leaping to the defence of the referee, Pascal Gauzere, and admonishing Alun Wyn for the temerity to question a decision, which is every captain’s right.

And as for his attack on Patchell, trying to sow seeds of doubt and fear in the mind of the Scarlets No10, it is very poor form indeed. It is reminiscent of Graham Henry’s uncalled for attacks on Quade Cooper in the 2011 Rugby World Cup – comments that almost came back to haunt Henry.

All Jones does is make everyone hate England more, get further behind Wales and desperately hope Patchell and Alun Wyn teach him a lesson.

It also makes his future appointment as Lions coach a little more difficult. Time to let your players do the talking on the field “Uncle Eddie” – and give it a break.

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Six Nations Exclusive: Mike Phillips tips Wales to beat England, and France to bounce back in style

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After a great first weekend of the Six Nations there’s no question where everyone’s attention will be on Saturday – Twickenham.

England versus Wales has the potential to be a fantastic match, with a huge amount resting on the game for both teams.

Wales have had a lot of praise this week, and deservedly so after a brilliant performance in Cardiff against Scotland, but this is where the real challenge for them begins.

It’s one thing being able to win a game in that manner, but what really counts is being able to do it week after week. Rugby is all about what you can do next and the Welsh setup will be fully aware of that and be focused on the task in hand.

Scotland were embarrassingly poor last week, but England are a serious side. They are one of the best few sides in the world and this will be a proper test for Wales – but one I think they can overcome.

England have a very good coach in Eddie Jones and it has been interesting to hear some of the things he has had to say about Rhys Patchell and Alun Wyn Jones in the last couple of days. The media always makes a big deal about mind games like this, but he’s just being a good coach.

If England win then people will look back at the comments and say what a good job he’s done, if they lose then they’ll all be forgotten about. It’s a no lose for him. The players won’t be taking any notice of it either – they will just have their heads down, looking forward to the game.

In Italy I thought England’s passing looked really slick and sharp and they are full of confidence. Sadly, the way Italy are playing it’s a little difficult to judge exactly how good the performance was, but England are looking a very strong unit. Wales know they will have their backs to the wall for potentially large parts of the game and the result will depend on how they cope with that.

There are some great battles all over the field. I think Wales have probably got the better back row which could be crucial. Out wide will be interesting too with Anthony Watson and Jonny May looking good, up against Steff Evans and Josh Adams. Watson and May might have more experience, but ultimately you have to get the ball to them, and for both sets of wingers it will come down to how the lads inside them play and if they can get the service they need.

I’ve got some great memories at Twickenham, every time I started there we won, and there are a few Welsh lads who have experience of winning there and that will be really important.

Wales were superb last week and I have spoken to a few of the boys and their confidence is high on the back of that and I think they might just spring an upset.

WOUNDED ANIMALS

It’s a massive game at Murrayfield with Scotland and France both coming off tough losses.

Mike is now leading the coaching at the Mike Phillips Rugby Academy in Dubai.

Mike is now leading the coaching at the Mike Phillips Rugby Academy in Dubai.

Scotland let themselves down badly against Wales. There was no physicality, huge gaps in the defence and they just couldn’t string phases together – it was like schoolboy rugby at times.

I have said previously about Scotland having to deliver and once again they have failed to do so. They got a lot of credit for running New Zealand close but you have to be winning games consistently to be taken seriously.

For France, losing so late is always tough and now you have to hope they don’t crumble. I had some harsh words to say about them last week, and it is really sad to see how they are at the moment. I grew up watching great French sides – I even had a France shirt as a kid – and to see them not in the top two fighting for championships is a shame.

But international rugby is all about playing for 80 minutes. It’s no good performing for 30 or 60 minutes, the level has to be high for the whole game, and that’s where they are falling down at the moment.

It’s going to be a very interesting game, and one in which both sides have to show some real fight and get some pride back, but I think France will bounce back and get the win.

Finally, it looks like it could be a cricket score for Ireland as they face Italy.

They did very well last week to snatch a win in Paris. I actually texted Johnny Sexton to ask if he had shinned that drop goal – he looked so surprised it had gone over.

Once again they seem to be going about their business quietly and getting the job done. They got the ball rolling in France and you would expect them to follow that up with a very comfortable win against Italy. That will tune them up nicely for the tougher games to comes when Wales go to Dublin, and they have to travel to Twickenham.

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The Mike Phillips Rugby Academy in Dubai is run in conjunction with Just Play. Currently aimed at 3 to 11-year-olds, you can register your child to be coached by Mike and the team by calling 04 348 3869 or visit http://justplay.ae/rugby/

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Six Nations: Eddie Jones stokes Welsh fire as he lodges complaint against Alun Wyn Jones

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England’s head coach objects to the way in which Jones stood in front of Finn Russell to prevent the Scotland fly-half from converting Peter Horne’s late try while the television match official reviewed the score.

The British and Irish Lions lock exchanged words with Gauzere and Russell before retreating back to the try-line.

In comments that are sure to enrage Wales ahead of their Six Nations visit to Twickenham on Saturday, Jones has accused his namesake of failing to “respect the integrity of the referee”.

“I thought that was right out of order. When he tried to stop the referee from allowing the kick at goal – we can’t have that in the game,” Jones said.

“That’s borrowed from another sport and I really hope World Rugby don’t allow that to creep into the game because it shouldn’t be part of the game.

“All we say is just to be respectful. At times players lose their cool, but that was a contrived bit of behaviour.

“It’s not great for the game and I’ve said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly.

“We’ve got to respect the integrity of the referee in the game because we’ve got one of the most difficult games to referee. And the game only gets more complex.

“It doesn’t get any easier. There’s more density around the ball. The players are bigger, faster, stronger. There’s quicker decisions from the referee to make.

“And if we don’t respect the integrity of the game we’re going to lose part of it.”

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 03: Referee Pascal Gauzere of France during the NatWest Six Natons match between Wales and Scotland at the Principality Stadium on February 3, 2018 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has leaped to the defence of Pascal Gauzere.

Jerome Garces will officiate Saturday’s clash between the old rivals and Jones is confident the Frenchman will not allow the Wales skipper to “intimidate him”.

“Garces it’s a very experienced referee. He’s got plenty of big match experience, he knows how to handle interesting moments in games,” Jones said.

“He won’t let Alun Wyn Jones intimidate him. Garces won’t tolerate that sort of stuff. He won’t let Alun Wyn Jones referee the game.

“We say to our players just to be respectful. You’ve still got to respect the integrity of the referee.

“And all that video work is to help the referee make the correct decisions. So that’s to help them. And the players have got to play their role in that.”

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