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'I regret it, this is the mistake I made': Eddie Jones opens up after England axing

By Ben Smith
(Photo by Dave Rogers/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Former England head coach Eddie Jones has opened up on his seven-year tenure and revealed what he believes was his biggest mistake to French publication Midi Olympique.

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Jones coached England to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2016, during his run in charge of the side before a two-year slump saw the Australian axed after a lean Autumn period at the end of 2022.

He believed the writing was on the wall after being called in for a meeting following England’s 25-all draw with New Zealand, before their lost to South Africa the next week which saw the side booed off the pitch.

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“I had a meeting with the senior directors of the RFU,” Jones told Midi Olympique.

“I felt, that day, that the atmosphere was bizarre. They were not like they usually are with me. After that, the British media became more and more critical. I understood then that the end was nigh.”

The 62-year-old said if he could change one thing about his approach it would be his selection criteria, which saw many in-form Premiership players overlooked during his time in charge.

Jones identified the salary cap scandal at Saracens as the catalyst for England’s decline which forced a number of internationals to play in the English Championship division.

“We always make mistakes. If today I could go back in time, maybe I would change some of my selection criteria,” he said

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“2021 was a very bad year for us. Saracens had just been demoted to the second division. As you probably know, the XV of England was then mainly formed by players from the Sarries.”

Jones continued to back the majority of his 2019 World Cup final side, who went on to capture the 2020 Six Nations, but the wheels started to come off during 2021.

“The problem is that their level has dropped considerably, in the second division and that the performances of our national team immediately suffered from it,” he said.

“So I should have changed my tune, that year. And I regret it, this is the mistake I made.”

England finished fifth in the 2021 Six Nations for the first time since 2018, which forced a reset that saw many stars dropped by the November internationals.

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A new core of young players were brought in like Marcus Smith and Freddie Steward but the side failed to click in 2022 with just five wins from the 12 Tests in the calendar year.

Jones was criticised for his reluctance to blood form players at times during his tenure, particularly in 2021 when England finished second to last in the Premiership.

Sam Simmonds of the Exeter Chiefs made selection the British & Irish Lions squad for the 2021 tour without being a part of the England squad.

Former Gloucester flyhalf Danny Cipriani had a short lived recall in 2018 but couldn’t make his way back into the side even after blistering form in the Premiership with the cherry whites.

With rumours circulating of potential long-term deal with the USA or a return to Australia in some capacity, Jones revealed that he will make a decision on his future next month.

“Right now, everything is an option! Next month, I will decide.”

Jones’ successor was officially announced today, with his former assistant and Leicester Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick signing on for five years to take England through to the 2027 World Cup.

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