A controversial Irish columnist has suggested Eddie Jones’ rise to the top with his Rugby World Cup finalist England team has relied more on luck than any other factor.
Former Irish international Neil Francais has said that Jones is in fact the unwitting beneficially of ‘luck and providence’.
Francis infamously branded Warren Gatland as having the IQ of a tub of margarine, writing that the celebrated head coach had the “intellectual properties of a tub of flora”, just days before Wales went on to beat Ireland, denying the men in green a Grand Slam in 2015.
Now the former secondrow has claimed the England head coach has luck on his side, and underserved luck at that.
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Writing in The Irish Independent, Francis wrote: “Has England’s progress come about as a result of Eddie’s grand plan – minute application to detail and a scientific approach to getting his team right? Not a bit of it! Jones was just as bemused as the rest of us as his team lurched from championship winners to goofballs to contenders again.
“Luck and providence – not that he deserved any of it came swimming to his aid as he toiled in a sea of mediocrity.
— WalesOnline (@WalesOnline) March 15, 2015
“Many things have come right for him as a matter of course. It would have been interesting to see how well Ireland would have done that Paddy’s Day weekend if England’s back-row had been comprised of Sam Underhill, Tom Curry and Billy Vumipola. That back row almost alone is the reason why England are where they are.
“England’s better players have also out-performed. Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Manu Tuilagi have been immense but England’s march has been backboned by players who you would never have suspected would come to such prominence at exactly the right time.”
Francis didn’t stop there, saying the Australian was fortunate to get Joe Marler back for the Rugby World Cup and have his forward pack firing at the right time.
“Jones, too, has been lucky to get Joe Marler back from retirement and keep him on a tight leash. Mako Vunipola who tore his hamstring off the bone last May and has been not his best but is still very good. England were blessed to have him back.
“Jones, whether it was his direction, or just a little bit of interplanetary alignment has got his less obvious players to perform really well.”
The former amateur era Leinster and Ireland lock signed off with: “I will, however, be metaphorically turning in my grave when Jones starts his victory speech!”
Steve Hansen, Richie Mo’unga and Aaron Smith spoke to the press ahead of their bronze medal play off game against Wales on Friday.
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