'I see a team that's looking tired'
SIX NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: England coach Eddie Jones was at his most asinine best ahead of the decisive final round of action.
Jones suggested Warren Gatland’s Wales were looking “tired”.
If Wales win at home to Ireland on Saturday’s final day of the Championship, they will complete a Grand Slam and be crowned champions.
But a Wales defeat allied to an England victory over Scotland in the Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham later on Saturday in the last match of this season’s Six Nations would see England win the tournament instead.
Ireland too could end up retaining the title they won with a Grand Slam last season if results go their way.
Much of Wales’ success this season has been based on a colossal defensive effort and Jones, for all the praise he had heaped on Gatland, could not resist a pre-match dig.
“I’m just saying what I see mate,” Jones said.
“I see a team that’s looking tired, I see an Ireland team that’s peaking, but they’re a good team Wales,” said added.
“They’re well coached and I’m sure they’ll handle it and if they do, then it doesn’t matter for us as we have to play [Scotland].
“It’s tough. You can see, they [Wales] are getting tired.”
But when asked if he had any figures to back up that assertion, the 59-year-old Jones replied: “No figures for it, just fading eyesight.”
A laughing Gatland responded by saying: “What the hell is Eddie Jones doing talking about our game?
“If it was me, I’d be concentrating on playing Scotland. I’ve got no comment on Eddie Jones talking about us.
“If you look at the stats, England have made a hell of a lot more tackles than us [Wales] in this tournament.”
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Jones did pay tribute to Gatland for the way his longtime rival has “resurrected” Welsh rugby.
Gatland took charge of Wales after a shock defeat by Fiji saw them make a first-round exit from the 2007 World Cup.
Jones, a coaching consultant to eventual champions South Africa, had been expecting to face Wales in the quarterfinals.
“He [Gatland] came on the back of a difficult period, I can remember having an interest in that 2007 game when they [Wales] played Fiji and got beaten and that was probably one of the lowest points for Welsh rugby and he came in shortly after that,” Jones said.
“Since then he’s resurrected Welsh rugby and it’s so important for world rugby to have a strong Welsh team.
“They’re one of the traditional teams in world rugby. If anyone doesn’t know about world rugby, they know the Welsh are a strong rugby country with New Zealand and I think he’s brought a lot of pride, passion and enthusiasm back to the game, had good success and carried himself well.”
Former Ireland boss Gatland launched his Wales career in 2008 with a stunning 26-19 win away to England that saw the side come from 19-6 down early in the second half to record their first win at Twickenham in 30 years.
It was the start of Gatland’s first Grand Slam as Wales coach, a feat the Welsh repeated in 2012.
Wales ended England’s hopes of a 2019 Six Nations clean sweep with a hard-fought 21-13 win in Cardiff last month.