Jones spits the dummy over 'stupid' BaaBaas
The cancellation of England’s game against the Barbarians because of COVID protocol breaches made rugby a laughing stock, says coach Eddie Jones.
The RFU brought charges against the Barbarians players who twice broke camp to visit a London restaurant – with videos emerging on social media of the breaches (see below).
England mentor Jones, who had previously brushed off the impact of the cancellation, made his feelings clear after naming his team for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Italy.
“We understand that rugby at the moment is a bit of a laughing stock,” Jones told a virtual news conference.
“We want to make sure we put the game back where it needs to be.
“We have a great game in rugby and we don’t like to see it be portrayed as something that is not a serious sport, as it has been.
“It’s been a difficult time for society. People have lost their jobs, people have lost family members, so we feel absolutely privileged to play and our responsibility is to put a smile on people’s faces.
“The players have approached this camp with a zest for the game that I have never seen before.”
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England had been due to play the Barbarians at Twickenham last Sunday as a warm-up for Saturday’s trip to Rome, where they can secure the championship if the result goes their way in the later match between France and Ireland.
“No one likes to see a game called off because of a breakdown in the protocols in society at the moment,” Jones said.
“That’s what happened. It is not good for rugby but we’ve got an opportunity to turn that around.”
Australian Jones said, however, he did not think the incident would do lasting damage to rugby’s reputation.
“History shows that sport changes quickly,” he said. “If you look at the situation with the Australian cricket team and the sandpaper, that was not a great time for cricket and it was not a great time for Australian cricket.
“Now people have forgotten that and it is our responsibility to put on a performance so that people don’t remember what happened a couple of weeks ago.”
THAT Barbarians team social featuring, Chris Robshaw, Sean Maitland and a whole lotta 🍻 pic.twitter.com/OJhN3sDsba
— Edward Barker (@EdwardB24376757) October 24, 2020