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'Bizarre from the RFU, bizarre from Bill Sweeney...'

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP via Getty Images)

Former England international Andy Goode had taken a pop at Bill Sweeney, accusing the RFU CEO of being asleep at the wheel in allowing Eddie Jones to join a rival nation eight months out from the start of the 2023 Rugby World Cup. It was December 6 when the English decided to divorce the head coach that was contracted with them through to the end of the finals.

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However, instead of ensuring in the small print of whatever payoff was agreed with Jones that he wouldn’t be able to coach against England in the short term, Monday’s appointment by the Wallabies of Jones as their new boss just 41 days later has generated the intriguing possibility of the Australian clashing with his old team in an October World Cup quarter-final.

Goode was aghast that the RFU didn’t think about putting Jones on gardening leave so that he wasn’t able to take up the offer to coach the Wallabies at the expense of Dave Rennie. Speaking on this week’s episode of The Rugby Pod, the show he co-hosts with Jim Hamilton, ex-England No10 Goode said: “I’m with you on the whole Dave Rennie thing, it’s incredibly sad for someone to lose their job in that way.

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“Especially as they just had a training camp. So he has just put all the graft in, done the training camp with all the players and there were some good noises coming out of the training camp, Drew Mitchell was in with some of the Stan Sport boys doing a bit of behind-the-scenes footage.

“It seemed great. Next thing you know, whamo, Eddie Jones is in. So first and foremost, sorry for Dave Rennie. You hope that he got one hell of a payout because when your job is taken away from you like that and that quickly, you have got to get a payout right, bottom line.

“This brings me to the Eddie Jones thing. Have no doubt he will have a big short-term impact there. I actually had an Australian mate text me when the news broke and he said, ‘Oh f***, just as it looked like our backline might start entertaining people, here comes Eddie’. That’s an Australian who loves his rugby saying Eddie is going to take the fun out of watching Australian backs. They have got a great backline, don’t they?

“He will have an impact, don’t get me wrong. The big thing for me is Bill Sweeney, are you asleep again or what? I’d love to know the details. Eddie Jones was contracted until the end of the World Cup. Now in business, in sport, in absolutely anything, if you hold that contract over someone to a period of time you can put them on gardening leave.

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“But what they have done is they have got rid of Eddie Jones and they have allowed him to go and get another job with another union that may knock England out of the World Cup… If you have paid Eddie Jones out, how have you not put him on gardening leave or how have you not restricted him from working for anyone else at the World Cup?

“I put it on social media and people were, ‘You all said he was a rubbish coach, he had got to go’. Well, the difference is I understand that but what you don’t want is to pay him out and then say, ‘Yeah, we will pay you out but also off you go and you can go and coach someone else’. So bizarre from the RFU, bizarre from Bill Sweeney to not have had that written into the contract.

“The only reason to let Eddie Jones go and do that is if they have saved a load of money by allowing him to go and work somewhere else. If Eddie Jones was smart he could have taken all his money or pretty much most of his money that he was due and then not have a restriction of trade and then go and do the Australian job.

“So it looks like there is a little more egg on the face of Bill Sweeney because he is asleep or maybe I am happy to be corrected Bill, if you want to come out and tell me the truth come on here and tell me.”

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Shaylen 3 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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J
Jon 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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