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Thu 20 Feb 2020 | 10:13

Eddie's list of problems

Eddie's list of problems
Thu 20 Feb 2020 | 10:13
Eddie's list of problems

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Eddie Jones was forced to apologise after making a bizarre remark about racism that has invited renewed scrutiny of his England regime.

Jones was asked at a press conference on Thursday about his meditation practises having revealed in June last year that he engages in mindfulness as part of his early morning routine.

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In a clumsy response that was intended as a joke and was delivered with a smile, Jones said: “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about meditation.

“You must be thinking about someone else… Maybe another half-Asian person… Maybe we all look the same.”

Those assembled in the room were aghast at the ill-advised comment despite its context as a joke.

A private apology was later sought by the reporter who posed the question and Jones duly said sorry, shaking hands.

A Rugby Football Union spokesman said: “Eddie made an off-the-cuff comment during the press conference which was not intended to cause any offence.

“He has subsequently spoken to the journalist privately explaining this and apologised which was accepted.”

Jones’  joke is the latest twist in a Six Nations that has seen his methods place his four-year stewardship under pressure.

His use of the word “brutal” caused upset in France due to its connotations with violence when translated and it hardly helped England’s cause as they left Paris with a comprehensive 17-24 defeat.

A week later he described Scotland as a “niggly” team due to the tactics they employed to unsettle the English at Murrayfield.

Former Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll this week described Jones as a “scaremonger” who oversteps the mark, although he added that he is always fascinated by his rhetoric.

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Meanwhile, on the field, England are facing escalating problems at prop after Beno Obano was called into the training squad ahead of Sunday’s Six Nations clash with Ireland.

Obano has been summoned to the team’s base in Surrey as cover for either Joe Marler or Ellis Genge with Jones refusing to specify which loosehead has become a doubt for the Twickenham showdown.

The news comes two days after Mako Vunipola was ruled out of the round three fixture for family reasons that have forced his return home to Tonga.

Obano returned to his club Bath on Wednesday after becoming one of the six players culled from England’s 33-man squad, but has been summoned back to England’s camp and will train on Thursday afternoon.

If Marler or Genge do fail to recover in time, then Obano will make his Test debut against Ireland.

“Beno’s on the freight train, just in as a bit of cover. As I said we’ve got a few niggles so we just needed an extra prop in there,” Jones said.

England must topple Ireland to remain in Six Nations title contention, but Andy Farrell’s men are in the hunt for a the Grand Slam after compiling second wins.

“The Six Nations is a contest competition. It’s all about the contest at the set-piece, in the air or on the ground. Or both,” Jones said.

“There’s no guessing out there, the Six Nations is a pretty simple game. You’ve got to win the set-piece, win the ground and win the air.

“Ireland are a very well-coached team. We respect their back row so we’ll have to be good in that area.

“They’ve got good players, so we don’t see one area being stronger than another. We’ll take them on their merit and we’ll need to play well.”

PA & Rugbypass

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