The Wallabies lesson helping Eddie Jones coach England this week
Eddie Jones has revealed that the chastening experience he endured nearly 20 years ago as head coach of the Wallabies will ensure he won’t allow himself to get bogged down and overly concerned about all the heavy criticism following last Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations defeat for England in Edinburgh.
A comfortable-looking England relinquished a 17-10 lead in the final 15 minutes versus Scotland and the 20-17 loss ignited much debate about how Jones managed his team tactically from the sidelines and the manner in which he handled his replacements.
The loss has damaged the reputation of Jones, firing up concerns that he could be set to oversee his second successive disappointing Six Nations campaign as England finished in a derisory fifth place last March just five months after they had clinched the 2020 title with a win in their delayed back-match versus Italy in Rome.
England are Rome-bound again this weekend but the mood is now very different from the momentum they had 16 months ago when they were looking to clinch the title. Optimism about what they can achieve in the 2022 championship has been pierced by the loss to Scotland but Jones has purposely steered clear of all the negative public commentary due to the harsh lesson he learned from the final weeks of his Wallabies tenure 17 years ago.
Jones took charge of Australia in 2001 and they went on to reach the final of the 2003 World Cup. However, he lost his job at the end of 2005 after a run of results featuring just one win in nine matches, seven of those losses arriving on the bounce.
“When I was with the Wallabies I allowed the criticism of me to get to me and it affected my relationships with the players and the coaches,” said Jones as England began their preparations for next Sunday’s match away to Italy. “I can always remember this situation. I remember there was a Wales week [ultimately Jones’ last game in the Australia job] and may he rest in peace, Greg Crowden, said to me I have heard you are going to be sacked.
“It sat with me for the rest of the week and I probably didn’t realise it affected the way I spoke to people because I was carrying that around with me. Now that is why I don’t pay any attention to the media. I just get on with the job. I love coaching this (England) team and I want to do the best job by this team.
“I know other people will sometimes think other things which is okay. They are entitled to their opinion, but I now just focus on the job now mate and that is the thing I have learned through a number of difficult experiences.”
This approach extends to how Jones will encouragingly handle the England players this week at training following the loss to Scotland compared to how he might have angrily dealt with the Wallabies players following defeats when in charge of the Wallabies.
“It is a different approach. I can tell you a couple of players, yesterday [Monday] I sent video of their performance and asked them to come back and talk to me about it so I want them to own the problem rather than me owning the problem. They will come back today [Tuesday] and we will have a discussion on that.
“They will come back with solutions. Rather than me giving them a solution I want the players to come up with the solution themselves. That is the way coaching has changed to a great degree.”
While Jones has no time for social media and public comments about his work, he doesn’t force that approach on his England players. “If you are a captain or a coach you have got to make a decision on how much you are going to listen to outside the camp because sometimes there are some smart things being said and you can learn but I made the decision personally that I am not going to involve myself in that. This week is no different from any other,” he explained before referencing his squad.
“I encourage them to make their own decision. They have got to know what is the good and not so good parts are. I saw a great documentary on the Australian swimming team about three weeks ago and there was a young bloke who had just mucked up a swim and said he read his social media and he had 500 good comments and had ten bad comments.
“He said, ‘Those ten bad comments, I wanted to go to each of those people and find out why they had said that’. You have got to make a conscious decision if you are on it you accept you are going to get some good and some bad stuff. If you are not on it then you have just got to let it go past the keeper.”
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