SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Giving Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham holds England back in so many ways
I gave myself 48 hours to think about the Barbarians’ game to make sure I didn’t overreact, but England really should have taken the law into their own hands when the visitors turned the game into a farce.
I was disappointed with George Kruis for letting it happen, especially his antics around his rear wheel conversion. I can’t imagine Phil Bennett would laugh at that.
It was also wrong to let French coach Fabien Galthie and other French players basically do whatever they wanted at Twickenham. It says a lot about this English team.
Collecting 50 points against a 14-man opponent was more than meager, but the showboating said a lot about the team. Something had to be done and it didn’t.
Can you imagine New Zealand or South Africa having a Barbarian team come to Auckland or Pretoria and take over the mickey?
But can anyone at the RFU really care – or more importantly understand its relevance – or was this just another game, another day out, a chance to boost finances?
England really should have taken the law into their own hands when the visiting Barbarians side turned the match into a farce – the hosts went on to lose 52-21 to Twickenham on Sunday
George Cross left a conversion and England shouldn’t have allowed those antics
Giving head coach Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham is holding back England in so many ways
A senior rugby figure – a rugby director – to sort out situations like this should have been done a long time ago. Giving Eddie Jones the keys to Twickenham is now holding England back in so many ways.
Some of the rhetoric that Jones is constantly coming out with is just stupid and at this level it doesn’t help. I saw some of his quotes about the squad for the upcoming tour of Australia and that it was a ‘good mix of youth and experience’.
There shouldn’t be anything about that at all. It’s about picking your best starting XV, but under Jones we lost that.
Pick your side based on the best team to represent England, nothing to do with age or experience – it really isn’t that hard if you know what your best XV is.
But nobody knows what the best team in England is and it seeps into the players’ mentality. England have come close to the top of the world in Japan 2019 at, at best, a skilled team currently respected by few.
Starters, finishers, learners – we can’t even name a captain until we’re in Australia!
England were ashamed on Sunday that they would be in trouble if they lose the series in Australia
England head for a series of three tests against old rivals Australia, starting July 2 in Perth
Winning is all that matters. Selection is an art, not a science. Jones has lost the ability to spot individuals who are ‘wow’ players – the turnover is alarming given the quality at his disposal.
You have to have the mentality that the next game will be your last as a coach, it really focuses the mind.
I always thought about how many of my players would be in the best team in the world. If I could get to six you knew you would be in a good position, and from there the coaching and the style of play become easy.
In Olympic terms, they talk about the podium and whether an athlete is gold, silver or bronze. You want gold medal players who are the best in the world in their positions and we have a few but mostly in the forwards.
Let’s take a look at the last game of the Six Nations against France and serious troubles were evident before kick-off. We could have played that game 100 times and lost 100 times. We were so far behind them, even at full blast.
We are behind the southern hemisphere again and now also behind France and Ireland. We can catch up very soon, but we need to get it done now and stop all this ridiculous rhetoric. Winning is everything. It’s the one thing Jones should be judged on.
Clutch forward Courtney Lawes (left) and Maro Itoje (right) are among the best in the world
Scrum half Danny Care, 35, is good too, as long as Eddie can say he’s the best in England
The six players on the ‘stage’ in the forwards are Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler when fit, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes (second row), Billy Vunipola and Tom Curry.
England need to figure out who our starting hooker and blindside flanker is and the peloton is very good indeed, strong enough to go to a World Cup with complete confidence, even enjoy it.
But if you go to the back, it’s a different story. I have no problem with Danny Care returning, as long as Eddie can say he’s the best in England.
I don’t care if he’s 50 or 18, he has to be the best to outdo those other players. We have Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell on 10 and for me it’s either/or, but under no circumstances together.
They are both ‘podium’ No 10 but Farrell is not 12. If the World Cup were this weekend I wouldn’t hesitate to start Owen at 10 and captain and I can’t understand how he is attracting so much flak.
Smith’s day will come, but is he the best right now? We seem to take comfort in the number of good players we have, but it’s not the numbers, it’s world class players in your starting XV that counts.
But it’s more muddy at 10 and 12 with both Owen Farrell (left) and Marcus Smith (right) there
RFU CEO Bill Sweeney is a good guy but he is a fan and England need a real rugby director
Where England is everywhere is at 9, 11, 12, 13 and 14. We don’t know who the best players are for international rugby.
Freddie Steward is a gold player, but as a fullback, not on the wing. Not even Manu Tuilagi is on the podium as we haven’t seen enough of him in the past two years.
I’d build my rear division around Steward as a full defender – he’s that good – but can anyone in the England camp say that loud and clear? England’s problems have fueled the need for a rugby director at the RFU.
Such a position has been essential for the past 25 years. We’ve had some chief executives think they’re a good fit for the role, but in reality they haven’t played rugby since school.
Bill Sweeney is a good guy, but his biggest weakness is that he is a fan. He loves to be part of the team. That’s a big mistake. A good rugby director supports the head coach, but leaves him without excuses.
England are now in a corner and if things went wrong in Australia they would be in a real hole that still needs to be solved with just over a year until the World Cup.