Eddie Jones responds to B&I Lions rumours
SPOTLIGHT: England head coach Eddie Jones has put to bed rumours linking him with coaching the British & Irish Lions.
The touring squad are thought to be looking for change at the top after three consecutive campaigns under Warren Gatland. Gatland has a strong record by Lions standards, having won one, drawn one and lost one during his reign, but the invitational side may look elsewhere in 2025, with some suggesting Jones was a good fit.
In fact, Jones has been linked with the touring team for years but says he has no interest in leading the famous team.
Answering Telegraph readers’ questions, the Australian laid his cards on the table: “Respectfully, no. I am an Australian and I don’t really have any connection to the Lions as such.
“I think it’d be better for someone from the home countries to do it. I’m also not suited to wearing a blazer 12 months of the year. Someone like Gregor Townsend or Andy Farrell would be better for that job than me.”
It’s been a roller coaster year for Jones, who faced calls for his head after England’s fifth-place finish in the 2021 Six Nations. A return to form in the end-of-year series has seen his stock rise once more.
Jones’ contract with the RFU expires in 2023, by which stage he will have been England head coach for eight years and a Lions tour would be a natural fit – but Jones’ doesn’t appear tempted.
Unlike Jones, old sparring partner Gatland certainly hasn’t ruled himself out of a fourth tour as head coach.
“It’s something I will reflect on,” he said in 2021 following the tour. “I’m incredibly proud of my involvement. I have been very, very fortunate. I am very passionate about the Lions.
“I’m a great believer in what will be will be and other things will be on the horizon hopefully in the future and other opportunities. What they will be I am not sure. I definitely haven’t got any long-term plans and it is a wait and see. The thing about Lions tours is they are so intense, not just for the players but all the staff and everyone needs a little bit of a break to refresh and to clear their minds and then start thinking what happens next.”
Gatland also wants change in how the tour is organised, not least the interaction between the Lions and the clubs.
“The Lions continually need to go and talk to the clubs and the unions. There is a lot of expectation putting a team together in a short space of time to win a series so as the Lions putting together the best players from the northern hemisphere we get less preparation than the national teams do when they go on their own tours.
“It’s a common theme, I have been continually saying it and hopefully within the next six months that they can iron that out and we can get the schedule for four years tidied up in terms of when finals are on so that you can get the whole squad together for a couple of weeks before you go on tour and that would significantly make a lot of difference in helping preparation,” said Gatland.
Source: Sam Smith (@RugbyPass) & The Telegraph