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Austin Healey bites back after Eddie Jones' 'egg-on-face' jibe

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Austin Healey has bitten back after England boss Eddie Jones had a laugh at his expense during last Sunday’s media briefing in Rome following the round two Guinness Six Nations win over Italy. The ex-international back had written in a pre-game newspaper column that a defeat to the Azzurri didn’t seem “completely ridiculous” and that Jones needed to stop making coaching mistakes. 

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Asked towards the end of the briefing who had taken over the England captaincy on the Stadio Olimpico pitch when Tom Curry was replaced, Jones ignored the query and instead asked the media who were on the Zoom call who writes the Healey column in the UK Telegraph. 

Healey has now issued his riposte to Jones, who had told the media to go and wipe the egg off the columnist’s face following England’s 33-0 win. “England beat Italy convincingly at the weekend and most people would have expected that,” wrote Healey in his latest Telegraph column in response to Jones’ jibe. 

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“I was concerned that Italy had a chance. I know Eddie made a comment in the press conference afterwards, asking who wrote Austin Healey’s column for him.

“He was asked who was captain when Tom Curry went off but replied by asking about me before adding: ‘Okay, so you better go and wipe the egg off his face, mate. If you can do that for me I will be happy!’

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“Eddie, as an Englishman I’m always happy to see my country win, it fills me with pride. My concern was driven by the coaching mistakes we all saw against Scotland. I’m not sure what you were asking of me Eddie but I suggest you either stop making mistakes (and I’m here to offer help with that) or stop reading the press. I’m not sure you will be happy if you continue to do both!”

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What had riled Jones was what Healey wrote in the wake of the round one England loss to Scotland. “When I see someone like Ben Youngs, England’s most-capped scrum-half of all time, you start to wonder whether Eddie has turned off people’s instincts,” penned an unimpressed Healey. 

“Has he made them so stringent in the patterns they follow, that they actually forget the nature of opportunity? What we are seeing is players are staying blindly loyal to the framework, but the framework keeps changing. Players are getting tens of caps because they are obedient and are following exactly what the coach wants them to do.

“The worry, looking at Youngs, is how Marcus Smith might be affected in the long run. He is a proven match-winner in the final quarter. Yet you take him off for someone in George Ford who you had not selected in your original squad two weeks beforehand.

“That is a coaching mistake. As is constantly chopping and changing your style. How many of those mistakes does it take until you run out of coaching lives? I’m not saying it will happen, but a loss to Italy does not seem completely ridiculous. There is that much uncertainty and confusion in the way England are playing.”

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