Eddie Jones apologises for ‘scummy Irish’ comment
Video also shows England coach Jones describing Wales as ‘a little shit place’
Eddie Jones and the Rugby Football Union have both issued apologies after video footage emerged of the England head coach referring to “the scummy Irish” and Wales as a “little shit place” during a speech last year. Jones said he was “very sorry” for remarks he concedes were inexcusable.
Jones made the comments during a talk on leadership for the truck manufacturing company Fuso, the Japanese sister company of the England team sponsor Mitsubishi, last July but they have only come to light now.
England host a Grand Slam-chasing Ireland side in the final round of this season’s Six Nations at Twickenham on Saturday, with Jones desperate for revenge having lost in Dublin last year.
“We’ve played 23 Tests and we’ve only lost one Test to the scummy Irish,” he told his audience. “I’m still dirty about that game, but we’ll get that back, don’t worry. We’ve got them next year at home so don’t worry, we’ll get that back.”
Jones was also recorded discussing Wales in the context of Japan under-20s losing 125-0 against their Welsh counterparts shortly after he took over as the Japan head coach in 2012.
“Wales. Who knows Wales? Are there any Welsh people here? So it’s this little shit place that has got three million people. Three million!”
A spokeswoman for the Rugby Football Union said it would be apologising to both the Irish and Welsh unions for the “inappropriate” remarks, which Jones also regrets. “I apologise unreservedly for any offence caused – no excuses and I shouldn’t have said what I did,” the head coach said.
It is only a fortnight since Jones was complaining about uncomplimentary references to the English before the Calcutta Cup game last month, after which he was abused by Scottish train passengers.
“If you talk about hate and you talk about rubbing people’s nose in the dirt, and all those sorts of things, it incites certain behaviours,” he said. “Are they the sorts of behaviours that we want to see?”
The furore overshadowed a depressing day of fitness updates for England with the announcement of their matchday squad to face Ireland having to be delayed. The captain, Dylan Hartley, and the Lions winger Elliot Daly are both understood to have endured setbacks in their race to be fit, with Nathan Hughes and Courtney Lawes both facing operations this week on knee ligament injuries sustained in Paris. Hughes is expected to be out for action for 12 weeks and Lawes for up to 14 weeks, effectively ruling both out of England’s June tour to South Africa.
Jones will have no option but to name a reshuffled pack when he confirms his starting XV on Thursday morning, with Owen Farrell again standing by to deputise for Hartley as captain.
England’s management, meanwhile, have brushed aside any suggestion of sharp practice at Ireland’s expense after it emerged one of the match officials this Saturday visited their camp this week to assist their preparations. South Africa’s Marius van der Westhuizen, an assistant referee this weekend, oversaw a training session in Bagshot at the request of England’s coaching staff.
Inviting leading referees in to offer guidance to players is common practice but usually only involves officials with no connection to a team’s next fixture. World Rugby regulations forbid the pre-game involvement of the actual match referee but make no mention of his assistants, which means England will avoid any official sanctions.
While there is absolutely no suggestion the 34-year-old Van der Westhuizen’s integrity has been compromised, there might be some debate about a potential conflict of interest should Ireland be denied a Grand Slam by a marginal call favouring the home team.
A similar scenario would certainly raise an eyebrow or three in football circles but England’s defence coach Paul Gustard has dismissed such concerns. “I see no issue with it at all,” said Gustard. “Why wouldn’t it be appropriate? The opportunity to get foreign referees in to give their viewpoint in how they see things is important for our growth as a squad.”
Ironically the same referee, Jaco Peyper, who awarded a whopping 16 penalties and two free-kicks against England in France will be on the other touchline at Twickenham. – Guardian service