‘Do you think we go out there and don’t want to play good rugby?’: England coach Eddie Jones hits back at criticism of his side’s style of play after they edged to victory against France to win Autumn Nations Cup
- England were jeered by parts of the 2000 strong crowd for relentless kicking
- Owen Farrell’s penalty in extra time sealed the Autumn Nations Cup for England
- Eddie Jones defended England’s style and insisted winning was more important
- Billy Vunipola said England must get better at dealing with being the favourites
Eddie Jones rounded on England’s ‘disrespectful’ critics after his players scraped an extra-time victory over France’s second team to land the Autumn Nations Cup.
Pockets of the 2,000-strong crowd Twickenham jeered at the relentless kicking tactics that have been a theme of England’s campaign.
It took a sudden-death Owen Farrell penalty in the 95th minute of extra time to secure the victory.
England head coach Eddie Jones has hit out at the criticism of his side’s style of play
Owen Farrell’s penalty sealed England’s Autumn Nations Cup triumph at Twickenham
Asked if England could be more entertaining, Jones hit back: ‘Look, the game is tough at the moment and it goes through cycles of being tough. Don’t get so worried about it. Haven’t you seen rugby go through these cycles before? I find it all a bit childish, mate – all this talk. I’m sorry.
‘Obviously, you have to win, mate. If we don’t win, we don’t coach. You know that, I know that, everyone knows that… so let’s be quite blunt about that. In terms of the rugby – do you think we go out there and don’t want to play good rugby?
‘Are you seriously asking me that question? Sometimes you can’t play good rugby, so I apologise. I am not as good a coach as you and all your mates. I apologise.’
Pressed on whether No 10 George Ford was under strict orders to kick the ball, Jones added: ‘You think I’m calling that every time he gets the ball? Don’t ask stupid questions. That’s what the game demands, mate. Had we run the ball from everywhere and got turned over 30 times and beaten 30-15, you’d have said ‘Why didn’t we kick the ball more?’ Forget it, guys.
Jones said he didn’t instruct George Ford to kick the ball, but insisted his kicking was needed
‘Don’t try to justify your view of the game because these are the best players in the world and you’re telling me they’re playing that game because they don’t want to play goof rugby? Be respectful to the players.
‘I think you are being totally disrespectful to the players the way you criticise the rugby. Rugby needs to be positive at the moment, it is a tough time for the sport, it is a tough time to play rugby and we are all trying to play as good a rugby as we can.
‘Consider the players are coming off at least a 10-month season without having any pre-season to prepare for the international game. It has been tough for the players and I think you are being disrespectful to the players and world rugby and should be trying to paint a much more positive picture of the sport.’
England No 8 Billy Vunipola admitted his side had not delivered the performance they wanted.
Billy Vunipola (centre) said England still need to adjust to being the recognised favourites
He also added that the team must become better at dealing with the ‘favourites’ tag in big Test matches.
‘When you are playing for England, you always have a target on your head,’ he said. ‘The biggest challenge we have now is dealing with the expectations of the team we set out to be. We love being the underdogs. Everyone loves being the underdogs as you saw with France today. We are have to deal with being the favourites.’
Vunipola also admitted to knocking on the ball in the build-up to Luke Cowan Dickie’s late try that led to extra time – and France coach Fabien Galthie could not hide his frustration with the referee.
‘The players honoured the France shirt,’ said Galthie. ‘It’s a defeat, we must admit it. We concede the defeat but it’s also frustrating. The game was lost on details but also on (refereeing) decisions, it’s very frustrating.’