Eddie Jones turned on critics of England’s style of play after they needed extra time to defeat a shadow France team 22-19 in the Autumn Nations Cup final at Twickenham.
A theme throughout a long campaign that began when the Six Nations title was claimed at the Stadio Olimpico in October has been a focus on defence, kicking and set-piece.
It is a trend evident across all countries and to underline the point it took a driving maul finished by Luke Cowan-Dickie 29 seconds from normal time to usher in extra time.
At one point the 2,000 crowd responded to a period of prolonged exchange of kicking by booing,
And responding to criticism, Jones responded with an angry rant.
“Can I just say I think you are being totally disrespectful to the players the way you criticise the rugby,” Jones said. “Rugby needs to be positive at the moment. It’s a tough time for the sport, it’s a tough time to play rugby and we are all trying to play as good a rugby as we can.
“Consider the players are coming off at least a 10-month season without having any pre-season to prepare for the international game.
“It has been tough for the players and you are being disrespectful to the players. You should be trying to paint a much more positive picture of the sport. It is a sport we love and it is a difficult game to play.”
When asked if rugby is about winning only or if providing entertainment was also important, Jones said: “That is not the point and I find the question a bit childish. Obviously you have to win. If we don’t win, we don’t coach.
“In terms of the rugby – do you think we go out there and don’t want to play good rugby? Are you seriously asking me that question? Sometimes you can’t play good rugby, so I apologise. I apologise.
“Had we run the ball from everywhere and got turned over 30 times and been beaten 30-15 you’d have said why didn’t we kick the ball more.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) December 6, 2020
“These are the best players in the world and you’re telling me they’re playing that game because they don’t want to play good rugby? Be respectful to the players.
“We’re trying to win games of rugby and we’ve got to find a way to do that, to try to get the ball to the opposition goal line as we can. That’s the aim of the game. Always has been, always will be.
“The easiest way at times is to kick the ball, other times it is to run the ball. We’re always looking to get the right balance.
“Would we like to run the ball more? Possibly yes, but not if we’re not going to win games of rugby.”
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