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Eddie Jones fires back at Austin Healey after England win in Rome

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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England boss Eddie Jones finished off his post-match media briefing in Rome following his team’s 33-0 win by taking a tongue-in-cheek swipe at former international Austin Healey, who had predicted in a newspaper column that ‘a loss to Italy does not seem completely ridiculous‘.

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Jones’ team proved that this analysis – published by the UK Telegraph in the run-up to Sunday’s round two Guinness Six Nations match – was terribly wide of the mark with a display that had the four-try bonus point in the bag as early as the 44th minute at the Stadio Olimpico.

Writing in the aftermath of the round one England loss to Scotland at Murrayfield, Healey went to town on the alleged lack of clarity about how Jones wants his team to play. “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,”  wrote Healey.

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“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.

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“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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Having obviously been informed about Healey’s no-punches-pulled criticism and his prediction of the possibility of an Italy win, Jones piped up at the end of his media conference in Rome and asked a journalist to go and wipe the egg off of Healey’s face following the five-try display in which England didn’t allow the Italians to score even a single point. Here is how the conversation unfolded: 

Journalist: “Who was captain when Tom (Curry) went off, please?”

Jones: “Austin Healey! I have got a difficult question for you mate, can you handle it? 

Journalist: “Yeah.”

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Jones: “Who wrote Austin Healey’s column for him?”

Journalist: “Justin Harrison.” 

Jones: “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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