Eddie Jones to boycott ‘waste of time’ referee meetings

England manager says ‘if we have a policy then we have to follow it’

Eddie Jones head coach of England speaks during England media access at Pennyhill Park. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

Eddie Jones head coach of England speaks during England media access at Pennyhill Park. Photo: Clive Rose/Getty Images

 

Eddie Jones is so disillusioned about inconsistent decisions in Tests he plans to boycott all official meetings relating to the game’s laws. England’s coach believes a failure to stick to agreed protocols is undermining rugby and that attending talks on such issues is now “a waste of time.”

With his side only halfway through their November schedule, Jones clearly feels the sport’s governing body, World Rugby, has a problem. “I don’t think I’ll go to another referees’ meeting in my life,” he said, reflecting on England’s 16-15 defeat by New Zealand. “It’s a waste of time. If we have a policy then we have to follow it. If we don’t follow it, then what is the point in being involved in those policies and decision-making?

“I would rather just accept it and get on with it. Smile at the end of the game if it doesn’t go our way and know if it does go our way, it won’t the next time. I don’t have any sour grapes at all about [Saturday’s]game. You win some, you lose some and get on with it, but there is something wrong somewhere.”

Jones is one of several leading figures who has been helping World Rugby to identify ways of enhancing player safety, only for numerous inconsistencies to crop up in Tests across Europe over the past two weekends.

The experienced former Australia and Japan coach sounds less than keen to be involved on advisory panels. “If I’m not going to go to the meetings, I won’t know what’s said. We’ll let it take its own course. We are happy to take every decision they make. The referees have a tough job but all we want in rugby is consistency in decision-making.”

Jones did not specifically mention the decision to disallow a spectacular late try by the flanker Sam Underhill against the All Blacks when the television match official persuaded the referee, Jérôme Garcès, to alter his decision. World Rugby had made clear only recently its preference for such decisions to be determined by the on-field referee unless there is “compelling evidence” for the TMO to intervene.

England will be without George Kruis for their remaining two internationals against Japan and Australia because of the calf injury the lock sustained against New Zealand. Jones says Maro Itoje and Bath’s Charlie Ewels will be England’s two primary lineout callers, with Courtney Lawes and Elliott Stooke also included in a 30-man preliminary squad preparing for Saturday’s game against Japan.

There is no room once again for the full-back Mike Brown, while Jones has reiterated that Manu Tuilagi is highly unlikely to feature as he continues his recovery from a nagging groin injury. “He needs to go at absolutely 100 per cent” Jones said. “He’s like your racehorse that has to be their absolute best to run a mile. Not someone you can put in a mile-and-a-half race at 99.9 per cent. He is a finely tuned athlete. It is no use playing him when he is not right because all you do is cause damage, physical and psychological.”

While Tuilagi’s medical history provides no great cause for optimism, Jones is confident the centre will make a full recovery. “We have got all the best medical advice and we believe he is moving in the right direction.”

He also allayed concerns about his co-captain Dylan Hartley, who was substituted at half-time against the All Blacks. “He has got a thumb problem, so he struggled gripping the jersey of the tighthead,” Jones said. “That caused us problems in the scrum which is why we took him off a bit earlier than we normally would. – Guardian service

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