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Former England star explains why RFU made 'right' Jones decision

By Finn Morton
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Rugby guru Eddie Jones will go down in history as one of the greatest England coaches of all time, even though recent results haven’t gone his sides way.

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England are a proud rugby nation, a traditional powerhouse on the world stage, but the Autumn Nations Series showed that something wasn’t quite right nine months out from the World Cup.

After losing to Argentina 30-29 at Twickenham to begin their November series, England only managed to win one of their next three Test matches – which was a 39 point demolition of Japan.

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While a staggering nine minutes of points scoring fun saw England salvage a draw against the All Blacks a week later – and avoid a simply disastrous defeat – they weren’t so lucky against South Africa in their final Test of the year.

The 14 point result only tells half the story, but simply: the reigning world champions were in complete and utter in control. South Africa’s joy was England’s pain, as the hosts brought an end to their worst year since 2008.

England had lost their way, and supercoach Jones’ fate had largely been sealed pending a review.

The Welsh Rugby Union announced earlier this week that Warren Gatland would return to replace under fire head coach Wayne Pivac, and England added to the international rugby coaching drama shortly after.

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But while there are rumours, Jones’ replacement is yet to be made official.

While the RFU will be working hard behind the scenes, the reaction from the rugby world is still raw.

Former England international Ugo Monye described the “element of shock” that all supporters felt after hearing the news that Jones had been axed.

“Whether you thought it was coming, whether you thought it was the right thing or not, I think there was still an element of shock,” Monye said on BBC’s Rugby Union Daily.

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“When you have been in post for a period or length of period that Eddie has which is seven years, and there is something different because it is Eddie Jones.

“He is one of the best coaches the game has seen at international level, who’s been right across the globe, and if rumours are true he could still be extending his coaching CV and taking on another post whenever that may be.

“But cause it’s Eddie, and cause he has that sense of gravitas, you’re still a bit like ‘oh wow.’

“My mum who doesn’t follow rugby as much as she used to since I retired, it was a conversation on our family WhatsApp group… just said ‘wow, really?’ It’s still big news, it feels slightly surreal, but in saying all of that I still think it was the right decision.

“It’s interesting, when you have someone who’s been in post, who’s had reasonable success, three Six Nations titles, one Grand Slam, two series victories to Australia – in fact the only two series victories to Australia that England have ever had.

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“You look at all of that and think it’s been a successful rein, and then you break it down and you look at the last perhaps two years, two or three years really since that World Cup final… I felt as if the team has regressed. If there is a team on the slide nine months before a World Cup, you have to make a decision.

“Ultimately I think the RFU have made the right decision.”

Jones is undoubtedly one of the greatest rugby minds to have ever graced our game, and the impact that he’s had on a number of teams around the world will not soon be forgotten.

As well as stints with the Wallabies and Springboks, Jones’ genius was the catalyst behind Japan’s ground-breaking win over South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.

On that day, Jones etched his name into rugby immortality.

Jones continued to find success during his decorated seven year stint with England, which included three Six Nations title, one Grand Slam and a World Cup final appearance.

As Monye touched on, the mastermind also coached England to two series wins in Australia – a feat which had not previously been achieved by the proud rugby nation.

But rugby is a results driven business, and “perhaps the writing was on the wall” for Jones after the Autumn Nations Series.

“I don’t know whether it always had to end this way but I think… perhaps the writing was on the wall. It could only be salvaged by winning a World Cup,” Monye added.

“It’s a funny one for me. I’ve never been coached by Eddie Jones but I’ve got to know Eddie Jones quite well over the last seven years, and I’ve gotten on really well with him.

“Today is not a day of celebration. I don’t think anyone’s doing cartwheels saying ‘yes they made the right decision.’

“It’s still someone losing their job, it’s still an England team that needs to find a head coach, it still is nine months from a World Cup and they’re the challenges.

“There’s still a little bit which needs sorting out.”

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