LONDON (AFP) – England coach Eddie Jones is to quit using public transport after being on the receiving end of verbal and physical abuse.
The morning after Six Nations champions England’s shock 25-13 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield – just their second loss in 26 Tests under Jones – the Australian travelled by himself on a standard class train ticket from Edinburgh to Manchester to be a guest of retired Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
But the treatment he received from some of his fellow passengers, both before United’s 2-1 win over Chelsea and afterwards, convinced Jones to change course.
“I’m a human being,” he said. “I don’t consider myself any different from anyone else, so for me to travel on public transport I thought was OK.
“But I’ll make sure I won’t in future. It’s as simple as that.”
Former Australia and Japan coach Jones added: “I can’t because it was shown on Sunday what happens when I do. That’s the world we live in. I was massively surprised. It wasn’t comfortable.”
Asked if the abuse was physical or verbal, Jones told reporters at England’s training camp in Oxford: “A bit of both. It’s part of the challenge. As an Australian coaching England, there were always going to be challenges and that’s just one of them.”
Video footage obtained by the BBC showed Jones being verbally abused while posing for selfies with Scotland fans.
Scottish Rugby issued a statement yesterday saying it was “appalled” by the abuse suffered by Jones.
“The disgusting behaviour of those involved does not represent the values of our sport or its fans,” the statement said.
“The dignity Eddie and the England team showed on Saturday is in stark contrast to this ugly incident.”
Jones had suggested on Wednesday that everyone connected with rugby needed to be careful about the language they used.
Prior to the Calcutta Cup clash, Scotland great Gavin Hastings, a former British and Irish Lions captain, gave an interview in which he said: “As a supporter of one of his opponents you just want to rub his face in the dirt.”
Meanwhile current Scotland prop Simon Berghan said “everyone hates England”.
“It magnifies that if you’re in a position of responsibility you’ve got to be careful what you say,” said Jones.
“Because if you talk about hate and you talk about rubbing peoples’ nose in the dirt, and all those sorts of things, it incites certain behaviours and are they the sorts of behaviours that we want to see?”
Jones added he had enjoyed meeting fans but that this might change in the light of his recent experience.
“I never knock back a request for a selfie unless I’m racing to somewhere,” he explained.
“So I try and do the right thing by the fans, but if this happens then you’ve got to have a look at your own safety.”
As for catching up with legendary Scottish football manager Ferguson, Jones said: “He’s had a lot of different experiences, some of them he shared with me and you just keep learning.
“He mentioned a lot of matches where things went wrong and a lot of the times you don’t have a solution to it and that’s the reality.
“We don’t have robots, we’re human beings and on a day, things can happen to people and we don’t know why.
“If we knew, then everyone would have a hundred percent record.”