Adam Hathaway, rugby correspondent of The People, gives Eddie Jones and the RFU a bit of advice and has a look at yet another week of blunders by the suits and something that should never been on a rugby pitch.
The Six Nations is done and dusted for another year and all of a sudden everyone is an expert on rugby.
Mates of RugbySpy, who watch the game basically only when England are playing, reckon Eddie Jones should be hung, drawn and quartered, Owen Farrell is not all he is all cracked up to be and Chris Robshaw should be put out to grass.
All utter cobblers of course.
RugbySpy may have an answer to one of England’s problems though. It is a bloke who has won an Olympic medal and is a hero in Fiji and might just help them sharpen up their attacking game which was one of their Achilles heels during the tournament apart from a few Farrell and Elliot Daly flashes of inspiration.
We will be ignored but this idea is not cobblers.
What really are cobblers are the braying texts received from mobile numbers with a +64 prefix after England’s 24-15 defeat to Ireland on Saturday. Any text that starts with +64 comes from a New Zealand cellphone, as they call them, – get a life all my bros down there.
We dealt with Ireland last weekend saying they are the best team in the northern hemisphere and deserved Six Nations champions. And this weekend did nothing to change that.
They were precise, powerful in attack and relentless in defence. They rode their luck but they would have won if some of the bounces of the ball had not gone their way anyway. Fair play.
So we can join the hand-wringing about England and the Armageddon that is surely to follow in the next couple of years.
Apparently English rugby is in meltdown after their worse finish in Six Nations history. It is in nothing of the sort – just like they were not the best team ever when stringing all those wins together.
What to do?
Central contracts for English players, especially the British & Irish Lions, so they are not out on their feet in March would be a start but that ship sailed in 1995 when the game went professional.
Unless the powers-that-be come up with a reasonable global season that is the way it will be for England even when the Irish and Welsh national coaches have some control over their stars. That was one monumental balls-up by the clubs and the RFU.
What England, and Jones, can control is the make-up of their coaching staff. On Saturday night after the Ireland game Jones told us he is always looking to improve the quality of his staff – and there is one bloke who has been in the building at HQ before.
And he hasn’t got a permanent, nailed down job at the moment. He knows about attack too.
And his name is Ben Ryan.
Currently Jones has a massive back room party – the whole lot is there apart from an attack coach. Jones does that himself but a personal view is he is spreading himself too thinly.
England’s most successful head coach was Clive Woodward but apart from the title Woodward was not a coach at all. He was a brilliant manager and he had the likes of Andy Robinson, Phil Larder and Phil Keith-Roach and the rest to help out on the training pitch whilst Woodward looked at the big picture stuff.
Aussie Jones should be the head man with a few hand-picked coaches reporting to him directly. And for the most part he is and you definitely know who is boss.
Paul Gustard does the defence, Steve Borthwick the forwards and Neal Hatley the scrum so why is attack so different? Especially these days.
On the tours to Australia and Argentina in 2016 and 2017 England won all five Test matches. They also played some great attacking rugby.
They also had Glen Ella, part of the brilliant Wallaby rugby family, as their attack coach on those trips. If Jones can’t get his old Randwick mate Ella on board for the summer tour to South Africa he should get on the blower to Ryan pretty lively.
Back in August 2016, after Ryan had guided Fiji to the Olympic Sevens gold medal in Rio, we said the former Cambridge University scrum-half was ripe for a job at Twickenham.
He had just left the Fiji job after being handed a plot of land, given the Fijian name Ratu Peni Rayani Latianara and having his mug shot put on a local coin.
At the time we said that with Jones leaving after the 2019 World Cup, which was the plan then until the Australian extended his contract to 2021, Ryan would be a decent replacement.
He knew the internal machinations of Twickenham because had formerly worked there as coach of the England Sevens outfit. Maybe that experience would put him off – but he has the perfect buffer in Jones who is happy to take the suits, and the media, on by himself anyway.
But if you speak to Ryan, or read his stuff in various columns he writes, he knows a bit about attack. He had to rebuild the culture of Fijian rugby ahead of the Olympics but he doesn’t have to do that with England – Jones is in charge.
He is a big champion of players executing skills properly. Think how simple it must be for a midfielder to find a wing with a pass and then think how many times England screwed up that on Saturday with a pass slightly behind the attacker.
Stuart Barnes picked up on this in The Sunday Times when he pinpointed the two passes that Farrell and George Ford put together for Daly’s winning try in Cardiff last season.
As Barnes wrote, one inch for either of them and the move, and the game with the clock in the red, is dead.
International players should probably not have to learn all this on the hoof in England camp but it seems that there are a few who could do with some help – though Farrell, Ford and Daly are exempt from skills criticism here.
But there are plenty who could do with another pair of eyes, a bit of help honing their skills and the trip to South Africa would be the ideal chance for Jones to have a look at Ryan.
Because, apparently, there is a World Cup coming up next year.
It wouldn’t be the first time RugbySpy has had a crack at the blazers and let’s face it most of them have been open goals. But last week’s escapades take the full digestive biscuit.
What a couple of tap-ins – and this week we can have a crack at two loads of blazers. What a win double to finish off Cheltenham week. And what disgraceful scenes in Belgium as an official got attacked after a game.
It should never have happened and wouldn’t have if Rugby Europe had shown some sense.
But first, we had the Marius van der Westhuizen escapade when the South African, due to be an assistant referee for the England game against Ireland on Saturday, attended England training in Bagshot ahead of the match.
Apparently that was down to a request from England to get a southern hemisphere official in so they could get used to their foibles. Eddie Jones has Wayne Barnes and JP Doyle in camp sometimes but as they cannot referee England games that is not a problem. Likewise Nigel Owens helps the Welsh out at training.
Jones did it by the book, went through the right channels, and this was a World Rugby foul-up that resulted in an embarrassing reverse ferret and Van der Westhuizen being signed off duty for the Twickenham clash.
And there was more to come on Sunday when Spain played Belgium in Brussels although this one apparently is not in World Rugby’s court. This is down to Rugby Europe who administers what is basically the Six Nations shadow tournament and has massive repercussions for the future.
The maths were easy – Spain win and go through to the next World Cup. Spain lose and Romania go through to Japan leaving Los Leones to scrap it out in a series of play-offs, and all the rest, that will probably end up with a kicking from Samoa and watching the tournament on the goggle box.
And guess who was appointed to referee the clash? You won’t – but his name is Vlad Lord?chescu, he comes from Romania and…..yep, you guessed it……Belgium won 18-10 and the Romanians are straight through to the global gathering.
Spain allegedly objected to Lord?chescu getting the gig but got no change out of the suits.
You couldn’t make it up.
It is at this point that we are bound to say we are not casting aspersions on the whistler’s character and integrity. It just looks wrong and smells wrong- so the appointment probably is wrong.
And the official did not deserve what happened at the end of the game as the visitors felt they had not got the rub of the green. The Spaniards were not chuffed and the referee had to be escorted out of the ground by security men otherwise he would have got a kicking.
That is not acceptable but there were some angry hombres out there.
Spanish rugby federation president Alfonso Feijoo went on to the dreaded social media to vent his spleen.
“Everyone who has seen the game will judge the referee. He gave 10 penalties against us, the result comes from that,” he tweeted. England would kill for a penalty count of 10 at the moment but Feijoo had the right hump.
Some analysts have it that Spain were pinged more than 20 times by the ref. Whatever – the situation should not have happened in the first place.
Spain might have lost if Owens or Barnes were reffing but to appoint a Romanian for a game that has a direct influence on that country’s progress to the World Cup is just bonkers.
Not the first time it has happened though. And it won’t be the last.