UK rugby journalist Stephen Jones is well known for his controversial takes on the modern game, and his latest remarks are no different.


In a column for The Sunday Times, Jones took aim at World Rugby for being “asleep at the wheel” as he believes the sport has become a “tedious kick-fest.” He also suggested that stadiums introduce dispensers both for hand sanitiser, but also for spectators who need “the best embrocation for pains in the neck.”

Jones also took to Twitter on Sunday to express his frustrations further, seemingly demanding that World Rugby meet this week to discuss the “miserably bad” state of the game.

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Coach Eddie Jones reflects on England’s win over Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup.

In Jones column, he wrote that the code can no longer be considered a display of ball handling and skill, as it has become ‘ghastly aerial ping-pong’ where ‘no one can be bothered’ to take the ball through phases.

“What was once known as the handling code has become a ghastly aerial ping-pong, and the strain on the neck muscles of followers as they crane to follow the ball has become intense,” he wrote

“There was a time when teams went through endless phases, which was not exactly easy on the eye either, but now no one can be bothered to take the ball through many phases at all.’’

Following weeks of test matches dominated by kicking in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, it’d be hard to argue that Jones’ comments don’t have any merit.


Kicking dominated Saturday’s test between Wales and England, which left fans frustrated and bored. Instead, playing without the ball seems to be a go-to option for most teams.

While the All Blacks and the Wallabies kick plenty of ball away as they fight to win the territory battle, Argentina are arguably the best example of playing without the ball. While kicking often isn’t new to the Pumas style of play, it’s clearly beginning to work as rugby continues to evolve.

After the All Blacks historic loss to the Pumas in Sydney, and in the leadup to the Wallabies match against Argentina in Newcastle, coach Dave Rennie said that the “Pumas are happy to play without the ball.”

He added that “they really dominated the kicking stats last week, which was surprising, so the All Blacks held on to a lot of ball and made errors and got punished.”


Even take the ‘rematch’ between the All Blacks and Pumas in Newcastle last weekend where the men in black kicked to earn the right to attack. Playmakers Richie Mo’unga and Beauden Barrett were constantly putting chip kicks in-behind their opponents defence, contestable bombs, or simply just trying to relieve pressure.

It’s then unsurprising to see rugby fans side with Jones, with many offering up solutions on how to fix the 15-man code.

Kane Palma-Newport, who is an English player playing in France’s Pro D2 for US Colomiers, suggested two changes that would “make people contest more” which would then create “more space elsewhere.” Another fan also suggested that fewer substitutes might be the answer.

If any change comes from Jones’ Tweet or the reaction that followed is a waiting game, but the facts of it don’t lie in saying that there’s definitely some merit in looking into it.

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