MARTIN SAMUEL: This is a marriage of inconvenience for Jones and RFU

MARTIN SAMUEL: This is a marriage of inconvenience for Eddie Jones and the RFU… but he remains the right man to coach England

  • Eddie Jones is still the right man to coach England despite Six Nations woes 
  • The coronavirus pandemic was not kind to the RFU’s finances last year 
  • Sacking Jones would be costly financially and it would hardly help the situation  
  • Exeter’s Rob Baxter would be the obvious replacement – but would he want it? 

Eddie Jones insists he is still the right man to coach England. And he is.

There is no real evidence for it, given that England have shipped their most points in Six Nations history, and lost to Ireland, Scotland and Wales for the first time since 1976, when aftershave not Gatorade was still the post-match tipple of choice. Yet practically and logistically, what are the RFU to do?

This is now a marriage of inconvenience, with the World Cup cycle beginning in earnest. There is no appetite for change, anywhere. Try to find a published market on the next England rugby coach. There isn’t one. Everything’s historical.

Eddie Jones remains the right man to coach England despite their Six Nations disappointment

This is now a marriage of inconvenience, with the World Cup cycle beginning in earnest

There are memories of the book on who would follow Jones in 2021, when his last contract was due to expire, but not the current one, signed last year. And could the RFU afford to sack Jones, even if they wanted to?

The pandemic has not been kind to rugby’s finances. Change wouldn’t break the bank, but it’s hardly going to help. And appointments are never cheap. This is not just about the man at the top. A gun coach, like Jones, comes with a gun staff, his people, his choices. Dispensing with Jones means regime change. Directional, too.

The RFU have joined the club. The club that already counts the Football Association and the England and Wales Cricket Board among its members. Management appointments veer between extremes, between opposites at least.

Sacking Jones (left) would prove costly for the RFU after the coronavirus pandemic’s effect

Ask this: if Jones decided to walk tomorrow, would the RFU replace him with a coach of similar standing and profile? Another international appointment, with a big reputation, a gun for hire? Joe Schmidt, maybe, or Warren Gatland, the type of names that were previously in the frame? Probably not.

This is the cycle the RFU are in now. Martin Johnson, one of the biggest figures in the history of English rugby and nationally recognised, was succeeded by Stuart Lancaster, a technical coach whose talents were familiar only to those immersed in the game.

Then came Jones, the first foreign coach, sharp and quick-witted with a huge public profile – everything Lancaster was not. And on it goes, each coach a reversal of his predecessor. Every change a revolution.

Rob Baxter, at Exeter, would be the obvious homegrown option from here, but would he even want it? And how much would it cost to prise him away from his club, and fulfil his wishes regarding backroom staff?

Rob Baxter, at Exeter, would be the obvious homegrown option – but would he even want it?

It’s Sven Goran Eriksson syndrome. Once the FA appointed a foreign manager they triggered a succession of 180 degree turns that are no nearer producing that elusive tournament triumph.

Eriksson was followed by Steve McClaren, an Englishman, who was considered too soft, so ushered in Fabio Capello, an austere Italian, then replaced by another Englishman, Roy Hodgson. Even the switch from Sam Allardyce to Gareth Southgate was a sea change given the football the two men wish to play.

In cricket, Trevor Bayliss, a one-day specialist, was replaced by Chris Silverwood and greater emphasis on the Test game. Bayliss delivered, though.

There have been some wonderful highs under Jones, but we all know what he was brought in to do – and it wasn’t to finish above Italy.

Still, he’s the best man for the job. Number one in a field of one. Try to get a bet on anyone else.




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