SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England head coach Eddie Jones has RFU bigwigs in his pocket… it’s ridiculous!

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SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England is again distracted by more headlines about Eddie Jones. I can’t believe the RFU continues to allow it… they are totally out of their reach and the head coach has them in his pocket!

  • Eddie Jones’ name was front and center in the media for all the wrong reasons
  • I don’t care what he does next – I care how he and England fare now
  • There is nothing in Jones’ team that will worry the Springboks on Saturday
  • Ellis Genge is one of England’s best players, but he will start on the bench

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As head coach, I constantly wanted to minimize distractions for my team.

Ahead of a huge game with South Africa on Saturday, this England team has once again been distracted by more headlines about Eddie Jones. I can’t believe the RFU continues to allow this. There is clearly no one who understands top international sport and especially rugby, which is bizarre in itself.

This week, Jones’ name was front and center in the media, but not because of his role with England. It was for the wrong reasons. There has been a lot of talk about what Jones will do after England and the last team he has been linked to is the USA on an eight-year contract.

Eddie Jones' name was front and center in the media this week for all the wrong reasons

Eddie Jones’ name was front and center in the media this week for all the wrong reasons

Honestly, who cares? I’m bored with the whole thing. I don’t care what Jones does next. What I do care about is how he and England fare now, especially as the World Cup year approaches.

Talking about the future of the coach does not help any team. I don’t know where the US story came from, but the RFU shouldn’t allow it to come out the week of a major test. It’s the latest example that shows why Bill Sweeney and Conor O’Shea are completely out of line with the governing body. It is a pity that the select committee of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not have time yesterday to question them about the way our international team is managed.

If Sweeney and O’Shea are to be believed, a few reviews have already been written, but only by people who don’t want to be named! There are things you just can’t make up.

They don’t stand up to Jones. They nod when he tells them to nod. He does what he wants. Honestly, Jones has both Sweeney and O’Shea in his pocket.

Some reading this might argue that the England players will not be distracted by media talk about Jones’ future. Nothing is less true. Minimizing potential distractions is an important coaching skill. These distractions are only magnified when the head coach is involved.

Jones will leave his position with the Red Roses next year after the World Cup

Jones will leave his position with the Red Roses next year after the World Cup

Jones will leave his position with the Red Roses next year after the World Cup

England was distracted by external factors after beating New Zealand in the semi-finals of the last World Cup. As a result, they lost the final to South Africa, who were by far the better team. Distractions and a loss of focus can kill any team and did that day.

Watch the German football team at the World Cup in Qatar. I think they were distracted by their hand-over-the-mouth gimmick ahead of their game with Japan. What happened? They lost and were on the wrong side of a huge upset.

At the highest, highest level, all these little things add up and that’s why as a head coach you want to minimize and eradicate them all if possible. The future of the coach should be kept out of the media.

England need to beat South Africa but there is nothing in Jones’ team that will worry the Springboks. Whatever happens this weekend, I don’t think we’ve learned much, if anything, from the fall campaign. It’s a huge missed opportunity for England.

Ellis Genge is undoubtedly one of England's best players, but he will start on the bench against South Africa on Saturday

Ellis Genge is undoubtedly one of England's best players, but he will start on the bench against South Africa on Saturday

Ellis Genge is undoubtedly one of England’s best players, but he will start on the bench against South Africa on Saturday

I just don’t understand the constant chopping and changing. This time it’s in the package. Ellis Genge is one of England’s best players. Genge has to start, but he fell on the bench. I’ve read Jones about bringing in players like Genge in the second half to match South Africa’s ‘Bomb Squad’. I’m sorry, but I just don’t agree with that approach.

Two things. First, the best teams choose their side to win the match by the way THEY play, select accordingly, and then spend a minimum of time worrying about the opponent. The moment you select your team and try to match with your rivals is the moment you are destined to finish second. We have fantastic players to choose from in England. Let’s have faith in that.

South Africa are a good but beatable team and with Rassie Erasmus shooting them in the foot all the time, they have no shortage of distractions themselves. That was not the case in the last World Cup final when South Africa and Erasmus got everything right.

South Africa has enough distractions of its own with controversial rugby director Rassie Erasmus

South Africa has enough distractions of its own with controversial rugby director Rassie Erasmus

South Africa has enough distractions of its own with controversial rugby director Rassie Erasmus

Second, choose your best players to start the game and keep them on the field for as long as possible. Genge is undoubtedly in England’s first choice XV.

So why won’t it start? I don’t believe in the idea of ​​players getting tired and having to leave after 50 or 60 minutes for new substitutes charged with adding new impulses.

Players need to be fit enough to play for 80 minutes and with the way rugby is these days the average time the ball is in play is nowhere near that number. It’s more like 35 minutes.

If I were Genge, I’d be furious for sitting on the couch. England would struggle without him and a defeat would end another disappointing month of November.