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Eddie Jones stands by criticism of England that got him in 'most trouble' with RFU

By Josh Raisey
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has pinpointed the incident that got him in the “most trouble” during his seven-year stretch as England boss, which came just months before he was sacked by the RFU.


Joining William Hill’s podcast, Up Front with Simon Jordan, this week, Jones spoke to the businessman about his time in charge of England between 2016 and 2022, as well as his brief spell as Australia coach this year before quitting after their dismal World Cup.

Jordan brought up Jones’ comments about private schools in England during the podcast. The coach stood by the comments, but admitted that they got him in a lot of trouble.

Video Spacer

England post-match presser – third-place play-off

Video Spacer

England post-match presser – third-place play-off

In an interview with i News last year, the Australian criticised the public school system in England and how it produces players who are too “compliant”.

“You have this closeted life,” he said. “When things go to crap on the field who’s going to lead because these blokes have never had experience of it? I see that as a big thing. When we are on the front foot we are the best in the world. When we are not on the front foot our ability to find a way to win, our resolve, is not as it should be.


“There is this desire to be polite and so winning is seen as a bit uncouth. We have to play the game properly, old chap.

“It’s never one thing, it’s the whole structure. Players are taught to be compliant. The best teams are run by the players and the coach facilitates that.


“It’s the way the players are educated. I’ve been here seven years now and I’ve never seen kids in a park playing touch football [rugby]. Never. Zero. In the southern hemisphere they are all doing that, developing their skills. Here you see them playing football, but never touch football. That’s the problem. It’s all formal coaching, in a formal setting, in public schools. You are going to have to blow the whole thing up at some stage, change it because you are not getting enough skilful players through.”

Jones was reprimanded by the RFU for those comments, but his opinion has not changed nevertheless, as he doubled down on those comments while talking to Jordan.

“I reckon this got me in the most trouble mate,” the 63-year-old said.

“Well, I believed in it. That’s the first thing, I thought it was important to say.

“I think for English rugby to be successful, sustainably successful, they have to widen the pool of recruitement. Because, at the end of the day, like any team, like Crystal Palace [who Jordan was chairman of], if you get the best talent you can, you develop it, you retain it, you optimise it, then you’ve got a chance of winning. And I think England have survived on a certain system and they’ve done quite well, but I think it’s time they look past that and broaden the system. And that takes change, mate. And people in rugby and people in most sports don’t like change.


“People don’t want to hear that, mate. People don’t want to hear change.

When asked whether his statements were effectively “signing his exit papers,” he said: “It reminded me of Nick Mallett, I think he holds the record for the equal number of consecutive wins with South Africa and he made a comment about ticket prices and got sacked. If you’re my own and I’m butting heads with you, and there’ll be a certain stage where we’re not going as well, and I’ll say something and that’ll be the opportunity to get you, and maybe it’s time to go then anyway.”



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Bob Marler 223 days ago

There’s possibly some truth in what EJ says about schools systems and the types of players they produce.

But at the Apex of the game, where he had the backing of one of the the richest unions, with access to the best players in England in one of the best club competitions in the world, all he had to do was win with the best 50 available. He wasn’t some pleb coach in some lower division club feeling the pains of the pitfalls of the macro system.

EJ has a bad vibe about him and he needs to find a project he can stick at and get his career on a track. And prove his points by winning.

BigMaul 224 days ago

No one cares what Jones has to say. He’s proven time and time again that he really knows nothing about rugby. He’s a fossil. He’s irrelevant. Please stop giving this con man a platform.

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