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Felix Jones' England role questioned by ex Springboks

By Josh Raisey
Felix Jones, Coach of England, talks with Kevin Sinfield, Defence Coach of England, during a training session at Camiral Golf & Wellness on January 25, 2024 in Girona, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Felix Jones may have only been an assistant coach with England for one match so far, but it is a tenure that has been steeped in confusion.

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England confirmed almost a year ago that the former Ireland international would be joining them after the World Cup with South Africa, but only announced last month that he would be their new defence coach- putting to bed weeks of speculation.

That confusion extended onto the pitch on Saturday, as England looked shaky adopting South Africa’s rush defence from Jones’ previous job, which is completely expected when implementing a new system.

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Boks Office discuss Felix Jones’ role with England | RPTV

In Episode 3 of Boks Office, the guys chat about Felix Jones’ role in the wake of a near defeat to Italy. Watch the full episode exclusively on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Video Spacer

Boks Office discuss Felix Jones’ role with England | RPTV

In Episode 3 of Boks Office, the guys chat about Felix Jones’ role in the wake of a near defeat to Italy. Watch the full episode exclusively on RugbyPass TV

Watch now

Former Springboks Jean de Villiers and Schalk Burger were also left confused when seeing Jones’ new role under Steve Borthwick. Despite initially being drafted into the Springboks set-up before the 2019 World Cup triumph as a defence consultant, de Villiers and Burger credit the 36-year-old for transforming South Africa’s attack in recent years, and wonder whether he is being used wisely by England.

“You look at last year,” Burger said on RugbyPass TV’s Boks Office when talking about England at the World Cup.

Match Summary

1
Penalty Goals
5
3
Tries
2
3
Conversions
1
0
Drop Goals
0
98
Carries
119
6
Line Breaks
4
11
Turnovers Lost
10
4
Turnovers Won
4

“We knew they were going to go back to basics, mechanical stuff: scrum- transfer to scrum-half, maul- mechanical thing, breakdown- mechanical thing, kicking game and defence, that’s the basics you get right. Last year, they played to their strengths- best defence at the World Cup, best kicking game at the World Cup.

“This year, we all see Felix Jones is going across there and I thought ‘what a great job he did with our Springbok attack from 2018 to 2023,’ and we all have massive respect for Felix- his work ethic, how he coaches the attack. All of a sudden, he pops up on screen as defence coach and he’s copying a Bok style of defence.

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“There’s a lot of work in that defensive system.”

Burger went on to highlight instances where England’s defence was caught out by Italy in Rome on Saturday in their 27-24 victory, although, as mentioned, that was inevitable given it was only Jones’ first game in charge.

De Villiers added: “England start anew this year, they see what Felix has done with the Boks, you employ him but you employ him for something totally different.

“On what basis do you get a guy like that if he’s going to fulfil a role that you haven’t seen him do? Or is it based on what he did while he was still at Munster?

“It is a weird one.”

Despite his queries and England’s early faults in their defence, Burger is, however, confident that Jones will be able to resolve any issues that arose in Rome.

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“We’ve all seen Felix and his work ethic, so there is no doubt that he will fix it.”

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