England coach Eddie Jones defends 'dreary' kicking duels

England coach Eddie Jones puts the boot into critics and defends ‘dreary’ kicking duels in Autumn Nations Cup by labelling criticism as ‘alarmist’ and silly’ ahead of final against France

  • England have recorded three successive wins in the Autumn Nations Cup 
  • The tournament however had been derided from some corners as dreary 
  • Sir Clive Woodward also lamented the tedious nature of recent Test matches 
  • But Eddie Jones insists it is merely a phase ahead of his side facing France 

Eddie Jones has dismissed criticism of rugby’s current defensive tactics and endless kicking duels as ‘alarmist’ and ‘silly’, ahead of England’s Autumn Nations Cup final against France.

The national team have recorded three successive wins in an eight-team tournament which has been derided as a dreary spectacle.

Writing on Monday, former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward lamented the tedious nature of so many recent Tests, saying: ‘Rugby has become the most exasperating, infuriating, frustrating and, occasionally, completely unwatchable game.’

England coach Eddie Jones has dismissed criticism of rugby’s current defensive tactics

The Autumn Nations Cup has been derided as a dreary spectacle due to endless kicking duels

But Jones has hit back, insisting that this is merely a phase and the sport’s variety and complexity should be celebrated. Asked about the widespread criticism, he said: ‘We go through cycles of attack and defence and that’s the beauty of our game — it doesn’t sit still. So I think all that sort of talk is massively alarmist and quite silly. The game evolves and changes.

‘Just looking at rugby at the moment, it’s certainly a tough, physical game for the purists. It reminds me of the 2007 World Cup where defences were pretty dominant and kicking was one of the major ways to get ahead in the game. We go through these periods.

‘The next cycle is always an attacking one so let’s enjoy the defensive cycle we have at the moment and look forward to the attacking cycle when it comes.’

Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward lamented the tedious nature of so many recent Tests

But Jones has hit back, insisting that this is merely a phase that the sport is experiencing

Jones is evidently exasperated by the fluctuations in public opinion, adding: ‘After lockdown in New Zealand, referees went very hard at offside and the breakdown and were roundly criticised, so it seems people want to have both sides of the cake.

‘They don’t want referees to referee the laws, then when we get slow ball they criticise the game. So I can’t work out what people want.’

As is so often the case in rugby, coaches and players are frustrated by the interpretation and application of laws — and officiating inconsistencies — especially in light of changes which have encouraged spoiling and poaching at the breakdown.

Jones added: ‘We have got a complex, contestable game and we need really good clarity about the laws and the interpretations.

England have recorded three successive wins in the eight-team tournament this autumn

‘I think one of the reasons why it is difficult at the moment is because referees aren’t getting together, so we are getting quite wide variations in the way that the referees are applying the laws.

‘That is not contributing to the rugby maybe a lot of people want to see, but maybe a lot of people like this rugby, too?

‘Rugby is a game that can be played in a number of different ways. Most other sports have taken a lot of the contest out to simplify it, but we don’t want a simple game. We want a game that can be won in a number of different ways.

‘But the pressure to referee all these complex contests is getting more difficult, which is why we need more clarity.’

They now face France in the final on Sunday after an inexperienced side overcame Italy 




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