It’s Wednesday now and Eddie Jones has so far kept to his promise of not speaking to the media, over a fortnight after England’s victory against Ireland.
One solitary interview with the RFU’s internal media aside, Jones has kept his own counsel and has stuck to his word.
Yet though this be madness, there be method in’t. By not talking to the press, Jones has protected his own players from media glare in the build up to the game and has also avoided a war of words with Wales coach Warren Gatland.
During yesterday’s press conference (via The Guardian) Gatland even went as far as to praise Jones and said:
“I think when he does say something out of turn, it is important you guys [media] don’t jump on him, otherwise he will clam up and stay quiet. Give him the licence to speak his mind and say what he wants to say, without actually analysing everything or making headlines out of things.”
Eddie Jones was not impressed with the media’s focus on his comments regarding Jonny Sexton and in particular one comment about his parents’ concern for his injuries, but by not talking to the press it means things have been relatively quiet in the media regarding the England game, which has meant the players have just been able to concentrate on their own preparation rather than any journalistic sideshows.
As Wales legend Shane Williams pointed out in his column for WalesOnline:
“Eddie has gagged himself after the reaction to some comments about Ireland’s Jonny Sexton, but he clearly doesn’t want to talk about Grand Slam chances.
“It may please the media and some fans but the players will know he has got their backs and is trying to take the pressure off them.”
These comments led to Williams comparing Jones to football’s Jose Mourinho, a man known as much for his handling of the media as his managerial skills.
In his column for the Daily Mail, Sir Clive Woodward argued:
“I still disagree with his vow of silence, as he is the England coach and figurehead and a brilliant pre-match operator who knows how to hit the right buttons.
“His little barbs and digs, and the way he has fronted up in general, have played a significant role in how England have performed so far.”
However, it appears Jones will not be straying from his policy of silence and the more he deals with the British and Irish press the more he appears to know how to handle them. He has used his comments in the past to focus the debate between coaches and writers which has filtered down to the players.
Is it any coincidence that Ireland tried to run the ball from their own half more often than they had done so in previous games after Jones accused them of playing Aussie Rules? Is it a coincidence that Scotland buckled under the pressure of playing England at home after Jones labelled them as favourites?
In some ways Jones has also avoided a war of words with Gatland because he knows he has little to gain from it, including a psychological advantage.
It appears he has handled himself perfectly this Six Nations and has certainly made it a more interesting tournament for coaches, players and fans alike. Hopefully now his side will do the talking on the pitch for him.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena
Read More About: clive woodward, eddie jones, England, england international rugby, england rugby, england v wales, english rugby, Grand Slam, Ireland, irish rugby, jonny sexton, jose mourinho, media, reaction, rfu, shane williams, silence, sir clive woodward, Six Nations, Six Nations 2016, Six Nations news, Top Story, Wales, warren gatland