Former England flanker James Haskell has described the Rugby Football Union’s decision to sack head coach Eddie Jones nine months out from the Rugby World Cup as “utter madness”.
Speaking to Sky Sports in the wake of Jones’ dismissal, the 77-cap ex England loose forward pointed the finger at “some grumpy old journalists and some miserable fans” who ganged up to oust his former coach.
Haskell played the best rugby of his career under Jones’ tutelage between 2016 and 2018, and described the Australian as “by far and away the best coach I’ve ever worked with,” while also highlighting his impressive record at World Cups.
“Personally, it’s utter madness,” the former Wasps and Northampton Saints flanker said. “You have literally taken the most successful World Cup coach, with a 90 percent winning record, and binned him nine months before a World Cup. He’s been to three World Cup finals. He’s won one and lost two. And he took Japan to some of the biggest upsets they’ve ever had.
“And then the best thing is, the person they want to replace him with at this point in time is not available, so you’re going to put someone else in charge for the Six Nations who hasn’t been an international coach just because of some grumpy old journalists and some miserable fans who’ve decided to gang up to get rid of him, which is pretty much the story of the modern world. If you shout loud enough and you’ve got enough fans in the media, you can achieve anything.”
“A lot of times, if you upset people and don’t conform, and Eddie Jones doesn’t conform- does he get everything right? No, I don’t think anybody gets everything right.
“Unfortunately, I think that because Eddie didn’t conform, didn’t play to the media’s tune, there were some guys that just didn’t want him in there.
“Look, the Six Nations was disappointing, the autumn internationals were disappointing, but not to the degree where there were such catastrophic errors. What some of these older heads are doing and some of these older journalists who don’t like Eddie, who don’t actually come down and watch training, they don’t speak to any of the current players, they’re not particularly popular with current players because of their opinions because they’re there to sell newspapers. Then you’ve got ex coaches who have agendas and vendettas who are able to use their media platform to put things out there. It’s not based on fact, it’s rhetoric, it’s nonsense. You talk about the players not being confident, you talk about the players losing their shine, you talk about players coming in and out squad. Eddie’s there to put the best players on the field and I had five international coaches with England, and they were some of the worst environments I’ve ever been part of.
“Eddie Jones is by far and away the best coach I’ve ever worked with. He understood how to get the best out of the players, create a competitive environment, create a professional environment, and some of these journalists, when they recommend coaches to take over, the people they’re suggesting are not in the same league as Eddie Jones.”
Jones’ former assistant coach with England and Japan, Steve Borthwick, has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Jones having guided Leicester Tigers to Gallagher Premiership glory earlier this year. Having played alongside him, and worked under him after becoming a coach, Haskell was hugely complimentary of Borthwick.
“If the person taking over is Steve Borthwick, I think he’s utterly brilliant,” he said. “If anybody could take over from Eddie Jones, I can’t think of a better person. He’s the number one person that I would have suggested. I didn’t think a million years they’d ever get him because of what a good job he’s doing with [Leicester] Tigers. If they get Kevin Sinfield as well, then England are in a good place and it’s a nice transition.”
“People aren’t honest” 😬
James Haskell believes it’s ‘utter madness’ Eddie Jones has been sacked as England head coach just nine months before the 2023 Rugby World Cup 🌹🏉 pic.twitter.com/ihLnurSitN
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) December 7, 2022