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Jones blindsided by the revelation he was named at Erasmus hearing

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

Eddie Jones is a coach very rarely stuck for words but the England boss was blindsided by the revelation that his name featured in the sanctioning section of the written judgment published after Rassie Erasmus was banned from rugby this week.

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Springboks director Erasmus was suspended from all rugby with immediate effect on Wednesday for a period of two months following his misconduct hearing regarding charges arising out of the Test series versus the British and Irish Lions earlier this year. 

Erasmus was also banned from any involvement on a matchday until September 30 next year, while SA Rugby must pay a fine of £20,000. Both Erasmus and SA Rugby must also apologise for their actions, but both those parties have since stated they will be exercising their right to appeal.  

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Freddie Burns on whether the Springboks will target Maro Itoje and Marcus Smith
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Freddie Burns on whether the Springboks will target Maro Itoje and Marcus Smith

In the 80-page written judgment detailing how the entire case was handled from the July 24 Test match in Cape Town all the way through to the decision to suspend Erasmus, the name of England boss Jones cropped up on page 40 of the document, something that was news to the Australian when it was mentioned to him at his team announcement media briefing on Thursday.

Falling under a section headed regulatory powers, guidance and principles, the judicial committee noted that they had been provided with plenty of examples of sanctioning in cases involving a coach or director of rugby directly threatening a match official. First in the list of seven cases referenced was the 2007 disciplinary hearing taken against Jones by Sanzar. 

The listing read: “Jones, then coach of Queensland Reds, admitted misconduct arising out of his media comments which included the following observations: ‘Referee decided to referee the scrums a different way which I thought was absolutely outrageous’, ‘Just can’t have that in professional rugby, but unfortunately that is the case’, ‘Referee decide he was going to square up in the second half – gave them, I think, four penalties in a row’ and ‘How much is the fine? I’ll have to check with my accountant… whatever the fine, I’ll pay twice. I thought it (the refereeing) was outrageous’. He was fined and ordered to apologise.”

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Asked for his thoughts at his name getting mentioned in the sanctioning section at the Erasmus hearing, England boss Jones said: “I have got no idea what you are talking about, mate.”

When it was explained to him it had something to do with an incident in 2007 regarding comments he made about scrums, he added: “I really don’t know what you are talking about, mate. I can remember getting fined in 2007 and I paid the price for not showing the respect I should have shown and I have learned from that. I made a mistake and I learned from that. I haven’t encroached on that area again and that is all I can say, mate. I don’t know what you want me to say.”

Ironically, one of the other six cases referenced by the Erasmus judicial committee involved Richard Cockerill, the new England assistant, when he was coach of Leicester in 2009. It stated: “He entered the technical area and threatened ‘this bloke is f***ing s**t’, ‘you are all a bunch of useless c***s’ and ‘I’m going to slag this c**t off to every f***ing newspaper going, you watch me’. He admitted both charges and was suspended from match-day coaching for four weeks. The suspension from matchday contact (direct and indirect) with his team and match officials was on matchdays.”

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