SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Giving Eddie Jones Twickenham keys is not working

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Giving Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham holds England back in so many ways – if it goes wrong in Australia, they are in a real hole a year from the World Cup

  • England’s match against the Barbarians on Sunday turned into a farce by the end
  • England should have taken the law into their own hands after some of the antics 
  • Can you imagine South Africa letting the Barbarians take the mickey like that?
  • A senior figure, a director of rugby, to sort situations out like this is long overdue
  • Eddie Jones’ men need to succeed in Australia or they will be under big pressure 

I have given myself 48 hours to reflect on the Barbarians game to ensure I was not over-reacting, but England really should have taken the law into their own hands when the visitors turned the match into a farce.

I was disappointed with George Kruis for allowing it to happen, especially his antics around his backheel conversion. I cannot imagine Phil Bennett laughing at that.

It was also wrong to allow French coach Fabien Galthie and other French players to basically do anything they wanted at Twickenham. It says much about this England team.

To concede 50 points against an opponent with 14 men was more than poor, but to allow the showboating said much about the team. Something had to happen and it did not.

Can you imagine New Zealand or South Africa letting a Barbarians team come to Auckland or Pretoria and take the mickey?

But does anybody at the RFU really care — or more importantly, understand the relevance — or was this just another game, another day out, a chance to boost the finances?

England really should have taken the law into their own hands when the visiting Barbarians side turned the match into a farce – the hosts eventually lost 52-21 at Twickenham on Sunday

George Kruis back-heeled a conversion over and England should not have allowed those antics

Giving head coach Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham holds England back in so many ways

A senior rugby figure — a director of rugby — to sort situations out like this is long overdue. Giving Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham is holding England back now in so many ways.

Some of the rhetoric Jones continually comes out with is just plain daft and at this level it doesn’t help. I saw some of his quotes about the squad for the upcoming tour of Australia and that it was a ‘good mixture of youth and experience’.

It should be absolutely nothing about that whatsoever. It’s about picking your best starting XV, but under Jones we have lost that.

Pick your side based on the best team to represent England, nothing to do with age or experience — it really is not that difficult if you know what your best XV is.

But no one knows what the best England team is and this seeps into the players’ mindset. England have gone from close to the top of the world in Japan 2019 to, at best, a workmanlike team who few currently respect.

Starters, finishers, apprentices — we cannot even name a captain until we get to Australia! 

England were embarrassed on Sunday they will be in trouble if they lose the series in Australia

England head for a three-Test series against old rivals Australia, beginning on July 2 in Perth

Winning is the only thing that matters. Selection is an art not a science. Jones has lost the knack of spotting individuals who are ‘wow’ players — the turnover is of concern given the quality at his disposal.

You have to have the mindset that the next game is going to be your last as coach, it really does focus the mind.

I used to think about how many of my players would get in the best team in the world. If I could get to six then you knew you’d be in a decent position, and from there the coaching and style of play becomes straightforward.

In Olympic terms, they talk about the podium and whether an athlete is gold, silver or bronze. You want gold medal players who are the best in the world in their positions and we do have a few of these, but largely in the forwards.

Let’s look at the final game of the Six Nations against France and serious problems were clear before kick-off. We could have played that game 100 times and lost 100 times. We were so far behind them, even at full strength.

We are behind the Southern Hemisphere again and now we’re behind France and Ireland too. We can catch up very quickly but we’ve got to get it together now and stop all this ridiculous rhetoric. Winning is everything. It is the only thing Jones should be judged on. 

Forward pairing Courtney Lawes (left) and Maro Itoje (right) are among the best in the world

Picking scrum-half Danny Care, 35, is fine too, as long as Eddie can say he’s the best in England

The six players on the ‘podium’ in the forwards are Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler when fit, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes (as a second row), Billy Vunipola and Tom Curry. 

England have to find out who is our starting hooker and blindside flanker and the pack is very good indeed, strong enough to go to a World Cup with total confidence, even relish.

But when you move on to the backs, it’s a different kettle of fish. I’ve no issues with Danny Care returning, as long as Eddie can say he’s the best in England. 

I don’t care if he’s 50 or 18, he’s got to be the best to leapfrog those other players. We have Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell at 10 and for me it is either/or, but not together under any circumstances.

They are both ‘podium’ No 10s but Farrell is not a 12. If the World Cup was this weekend I would have no hesitation in starting Owen at 10 and as captain and cannot understand how he attracts so much flak.

Smith’s day will come, but is he the best at the moment? We seem to take comfort in the number of good players we have but it is not numbers, it is world-class players in your starting XV that counts. 

But it’s more muddied at 10 and 12 with both Owen Farrell (left) and Marcus Smith (right) there

RFU CEO Bill Sweeney is a good guy but he is a fan and England need a real director of rugby

Where England are all over the place is at 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14. We don’t know who the best players are for international rugby.

Freddie Steward is a gold player but at full back, not on the wing. Even Manu Tuilagi is not on the podium as we’ve not seen enough of him over the last two years.

I’d build my back division around Steward at full back — he’s that good — but can someone in the England camp start saying so and loudly? England’s problems have reinforced the need for a director of rugby at the RFU.

Such a position has been essential for the last 25 years. We’ve had a series of chief executives who think they’re qualified for the role, but in truth have not played rugby since their schooldays.

Bill Sweeney is a good guy but his biggest weakness is he’s a fan. He loves being part of the team. That is a big mistake. A proper director of rugby supports the head coach but leaves him with zero excuses.

England are in a corner now and if it were to go wrong in Australia, they would be in a real hole which will take some fixing with just over a year to the World Cup.  

Share this article

Source: Read Full Article