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Clive Woodward goes after RFU and untouchable Eddie Jones

By Chris Jones
Edde Joness /PA

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Sir Clive Woodward, England’s World Cup winning coach, has responded to the 20-17 loss to Scotland by claiming Eddie Jones is getting an easy ride because of a “massive weakness” that means no one at the Rugby Football Union is qualified to hold him to account.

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Woodward believes Jones is in an unhealthy comfort zone because he is not being forensically examined by his bosses with the Scotland loss coming hard on the heels of last season’s disastrous fifth place finish in the Guinness Six Nations.

Writing in the Daily Mail, Woodward said: “There is nobody at Twickenham qualified to hold Eddie Jones to account in the rugby sense, he clearly has them all in his pocket. He can’t be questioned, which is a massive weakness.

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“When he made a mess of the Six Nations last year the RFU apparently held a cosy little inquest with a collection of ‘rugby experts’, which was in itself an acknowledgement there was no one at Twickenham willing to question Jones.

“The report concluded England needed to get a ref involved at training to stem the flow of penalties and more involvement from sports psychologists might be beneficial!

“We weren’t allowed to know the identities of these experts and their qualifications to question what a high performing coaching set-up looks like, never mind running the rule over Jones and his decisions.

“In the absence of anybody from above questioning Jones, will the England senior players demand a few words with Eddie on Monday? The likes of Owen Farrell, if he’s in camp, Maro Itoje, Ben Youngs and increasingly Tom Curry.This is their team, they must take ownership. And those senior players should also admit to Eddie that they got things wrong as well. An adult conversation is badly needed.

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“A bit of honesty and objectivity is needed and part of that conversation should include highlighting the things England did well. The forwards did much better than they did against Scotland last year, Smith was good, it was all coming together nicely in the third quarter.

“England could or even should have won what was always going to be a tricky game. This tournament isn’t over for them but they need to debrief honestly and look in the mirror — that is where the faults lie, nowhere else.”

Woodward poses six questions for Jones in his article:

1. What was going on last week with England claiming they were the underdogs?

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2. What was the rationale behind the ludicrous substitution of Smith and a front row that were going so well, not to mention Lewis Ludlam who was probably the pick of England’s backrowers? Why do we persist with this nonsense that the replacements are ‘finishers’? These ‘finishers’ once again merely finished England off!

3.Why the organisational shambles when Luke Cowan-Dickie got carded? You need a specialist hooker on the park for any scrum and line-out. I could scarcely believe my eyes when Joe Marler was left to throw in at a crucial line-out and bungled it. It was so unprofessional — detail is everything at this level.

4. And with Alex Dombrandt — who is England’s starting No 8 for me — why was he asked to play blindside flanker when he came on for Ludlam?

5. What was going on when they turned down a kick at goal to level the scores with three minutes remaining?

6. Why did Eddie try to deflect attention with what he perceived as refereeing mistakes?

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