As the Six Nations comes to a halt, former Ireland international Alan Quinlan has launched a remarkable attack on Eddie Jones’ England team and his captain Owen Farrell.
England sit atop the now suspended Six Nations table, but a high profile incident with loosehead Joe Marler was a hot topic of discussion following the match and not just in rugby circles. Marler grabbed the genitalia of Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, resulting in a 10-week ban.
Not only that, but following the match England head coach Eddie Jones called referee Ben O’Keeffe ‘the 16th man’. On Thursday, the RFU apologised for Jones’ comments, saying: “We have discussed with England head coach Eddie Jones the nature of the comments he made to the media in the immediate aftermath of a dramatic finish to the England versus Wales Guinness Six Nations match on Saturday, and have made it clear that such comments are not in line with the values of the sport or the RFU.
“Eddie and the RFU regret any implication that Ben O’Keefe was biased in his decision making.”
Quinlan, who works as a pundit and columnist, says that England’s on and off-field behaviour is bringing themselves and the game into disrepute.
“England will probably win this Six Nations, if it ever does reach a conclusion, but their behaviour on and off the field, led by a loose-lipped general and a petulant first lieutenant, will probably make them the most unlikeable team in recent memory to lift the trophy.
“This England team can play rugby, there’s no doubt about that, but the way they are going about their business – pushing boundaries when it comes to aggression, questioning the integrity of officials and goading opponents in unprovoked episodes of poor sportsmanship – is spraying lighter fluid across a game that is already engaged in its fair share of fire-fighting.
“Six weeks have passed since Eddie Jones warned a youthful French outfit to expect “absolute brutality” in the City of Love, essentially a declaration of war in a neighbouring rugby community still deeply shook by the 2018 deaths of three young players in the space of five months.”
Quinlan also takes aim at England captain Owen Farrell: “Jones is comfortable playing the villain and it’s become increasingly obvious that his players are too, with Owen Farrell, his skipper, one of the best in the world on his day, the offspring of the Irish head coach, now his chief sidekick.
“A good captain shouldn’t be giving away four penalties in 24 minutes… When the head coach is defending reckless tackles and the captain has a habit of hitting high, what kind of path do you expect the rest of the squad to follow?”
Ironically Quinlan was known for his on-field antics during his career and an abrasive, no-quarter given approach to opposition players during his 212 appearances for Munster and 27 Ireland caps.
During Munster’s Heineken cup semi-final defeat to Leinster in 2009, he was cited for making contact with the eye or eye area of opposition skipper Leo Cullen. The subsequent 12-week ban handed down to him saw him miss out on the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa that year.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now