England head coach Eddie Jones has come under fire for his less than complimentary comments of Italy following their Six Nations clash at Twickenham on Sunday.
Despite running out 36-15 winners and maintaining the astonishing winning streak, now at 17 games, Jones was highly critical of the tactics employed by the Azzurri to disrupt the England breakdown.
The decision to not contest for the ball allowed Italy to operate without the restriction of an offside line and they continually cut off the channels normally available to the scrum-half at the base of what would normally be a ruck.
It was a move that confused and frustrated England for much of the first 60 minutes of the game, and though completely legal, left coach Eddie Jones seething.
In post-match interviews, Jones slammed the tactic, stating it was ‘not rugby’, even making the outlandish claim that if this is how teams will employ the rules, he will retire.
Now, as the dust settles on an often bizarre test at Twickenham, rugby neutrals, and even some England fans, have turned on the Australian for his less than magnanimous remarks.
Piss poor press conference by Eddie Jones. Should be ashamed of that. Italy perfectly entitled to play as they did. IT WAS RUGBY EDDIE
— Wrighty (@neilwrightlegal) February 26, 2017
Well, I thought Conor O'Shea's 'anti-ruck' tactics were awesome
Part of the laws. Part of the game
For once, Eddie Jones was out thought
— Paul Williams (@thepaulwilliams) February 26, 2017
— Paul Grey (@paulmgrey) February 26, 2017
— Andrew Hunt (@didyoumeantosay) February 27, 2017
— Magneto (@TTted) February 27, 2017
Eddie Jones is a fool. The All Blacks and the Chiefs were doing it last year. Pretty sure he wouldn't slag them the same.
— Bryan Leask (@BryanLeask) February 27, 2017
Great game plan, and credit due. That fact that you got under Eddie Jones' skin so much was testament to the effectiveness
— Kenny Smith (@kennsysmith) February 27, 2017
Eddie Jones is really making a meal out this. so Italy decided to make sure they werent completely battered, what they did was totally legal
— xabi msimanga (@mannick) February 27, 2017
Eddie Jones… such a sore loser despite winning! Stupid people just don't like being outsmarted! #SixNations
— DinnyDonnyKnowNo (@DinyDonyKnowNo) February 27, 2017
One can certainly understand, though not condone, Jones’ frustrations. It was meant to be an exhibition of England’s rugby superiority. Ireland had, of course, run out 63-10 winners in Rome two weeks ago.
Instead, Italy made England look foolish for much of the game and while they did eventually secure a bonus point win, the manner of the win saw Jones fire the rattle from the cot in a major way.
In a tournament of many highlights and talking points, ‘engage-gate’ looks set to be one of the more entertaining ones.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
On this weeks Oval Office podcast we chat with Mako Vunipola, Paddy Butler, Rob Henderson and David Toms