The RFU have shot themselves in the foot, writes Josh Graham
Opinion: Why England wrong to sack Jones now
The RFU have finally fired their loaded gun as England sack Eddie Jones. But all those in charge of English rugby have managed to do is shoot themselves in the foot.
Jones leaves with a higher win percentage than any previous head coach, having guided England to the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, three Six Nations titles, including the 2016 Grand Slam, as well as two series wins down under in his native Australia.
The 62-year-old even managed to equal New Zealand’s record of 18 consecutive Test wins in 2017 and while results and public opinion may have soured, to pull the plug now is an act of self harm.
Even those who are staunchly against the Australian coach must admit RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney has waited too long to wield the axe with just 277 days until England’s opening World Cup game against Argentina.
The powers that be at Twickenham have had ample opportunity to move in a different direction since the last World Cup.
Removing Jones could reportedly cost around £700,000 and if all his backroom staff follow that number may rise to seven figures, an awfully large sum of money for the RFU to stump up in the current climate.
Two Premiership clubs have gone to the wall and society in general is feeling the pinch of the cost of living crisis, so a spiralling severance package would leave a sour taste.
One of the main criticisms levied at Jones was his unadulterated focus on the World Cup, so why let him go nine months out?
Jones has a fantastic record on the biggest stage of all, taking Australia to the 2003 final before helping South Africa to glory in 2007, as a consultant.
One of the players in that Wallabies side and an international great, Matt Giteau, launched a staunch defence of his former boss, labelling the decision to remove him by the RFU as the “silliest thing they could do to the English rugby team”.
Make no mistake, axing Jones is a far bigger risk than the one Wales took yesterday by replacing Wayne Pivac with Warren Gatland.
While England have had a poor year, they have not suffered defeats to Georgia and Italy at home and Gatland is the safest pair of hands the WRU could have called upon to rejuvenate their side.
Admittedly, the global landscape has changed after a disappointing 2022 for the All Blacks, but for an England coach to be dismissed 17 days after drawing with New Zealand would have been previously unthinkable.
The boos that rung out at Twickenham after an uninspiring loss to world champions South Africa proved to be the death knell for Jones as those in the corridors of power shifted their stance.
While he may publicly profess that he has no regrets, it will always be a case of what could have been for a man who has had designs on the Stade de France on October 28 next year ever since England fell at the final hurdle in Yokohama.
A different view on if England wrong to sack Jones…
I’ve found him exasperating, writes Alan Pearey. On the whole I don’t think he has been a good selector and at times the style of rugby played by England has been dire. At other times it has come together beautifully.
England have been as erratic as he is during his reign but it’s a big call to sack him now. One Six Nations and a few friendlies for someone else to prepare for a World Cup
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