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RFU CEO Sweeney bites back at Clive Woodward over damning Eddie Jones criticism

By PA

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RFU CEO Bill Sweeney has addressed the widely-held view recently given voice by Clive Woodward that the reign of England boss Eddie Jones is unchallenged at Twickenham. Jones’ future will be decided by a “brutally honest analysis” of England’s dismal Six Nations performance.

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The second fifth-place finish of the Jones era has placed the Australian’s position under intense scrutiny as a panel overseen by the RFU CEO begins the process of reviewing a failed campaign with its verdict due in mid-April.

In the meantime, Sweeney has taken 2003 England World Cup winning-coach Woodward to task for his remarks that Jones isn’t accountable to anyone in the RFU. “I would say that is wrong. That is absolutely not the case. I know some people feel that is the perception, but he doesn’t have power and influence within Twickenham.

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All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick talks about Eddie Jones’ struggling England team
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All Blacks legend Sean Fitzpatrick talks about Eddie Jones’ struggling England team

“There is accountability there. I mean look at it now – there is massive accountability at the moment. But you have also got to allow your head coach to get on and do what he has to do. To think he is totally on an island by himself, no accountability, there is no interaction…it’s honestly just not the case.”

In the build-up to Saturday’s rout by Ireland, Jones accused the media of spreading “rat poison” in the minds of his players, which he then has to remove. “I didn’t like that. I don’t think anyone welcomes that. That doesn’t really help the cause. And we have had a chat about it,” Sweeney said.

Jones signed a contract extension last April taking him through to the 2023 World Cup in France. However, while 2020 Six Nations and Autumn Nations titles were won since that deal was agreed, recent losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland condemned England to their worst Six Nations performance on the grounds of points difference.

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“We need to get to the facts of it. We need to lift the hood up, have a look in there and say are we headed in the right direction? You have to recognise and respect Eddie’s achievement since he’s been here – three Six Nations titles, a Grand Slam, a World Cup final. That’s a tremendous performance,” Sweeney said.

“His record against southern hemisphere teams is also terrific. But he wants to understand this as much as anybody. It’s really important at this stage we apply a bit of good old English calm, if you like. We have to react. You can’t just do nothing. And we won’t do nothing. But at the same time, it’s important we don’t overreact.”

Counting in Jones’ favour is a win ratio of 77 per cent – the highest of any England head coach – with the 61-year-old entering his sixth year at the helm.

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RFU CEO Sweeney bites back at Clive Woodward over damning Eddie Jones criticism

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