LONDON (AFP) – Head coach Eddie Jones has the backing of the Rugby Football Union (RFU) though they did raise issues surrounding his confronting South Africa fans on the three Test tour which England lost 2-1.
England’s victory in the final Test ended a run of five successive defeats which had seen them lose their Six Nations crown – Ireland achieving the Grand Slam in beating the English at Twickenham – and pressure mount on the combative Australian.
However, despite this with the World Cup in Japan a year away RFU chief executive Steve Brown told the BBC Jones’s overall record – he delivered a Grand Slam within months of replacing Stuart Lancaster following the humiliating first round exit in the 2015 World Cup – stood him in good stead.
Jones confronted South African fans after England’s 42-39 first Test loss to the Springboks in June – England let slip a 21 point lead – declaring to Sky Sports “They always have something to say here,” and when asked had he replied in kind answered: “Of course I did.”
“We have discussed specific incidents that have occurred and talked about how they can be handled moving forward,” said Brown.
“We should never have those things played out in public but we are talking about people in very intense situations, so I guess it is reasonable to expect that sometimes people don’t behave exactly as you want them to.”
Brown, who says he has “faith” in Jones’ values and the Australian “understood” the importance of the discussions, and the RFU only a few months ago gave former Australia and Japan coach Jones a contract extension taking him beyond the World Cup.
Brown conceded the recent run of results were “disappointing” but had to be put in overall context as Jones also guided England to a second Six Nations crown – albeit denied the Grand Slam by losing to Ireland in Dublin – in 2017.
“I’m not holding Eddie to account,” said Brown.
“The most important thing with Eddie is the cumulative history, and the win rate is still very high.
“It’s about looking at the whole picture and having confidence in the future plan as well as the history to date.”
Jones faces a challenging November Test line-up with England hosting South Africa, world champions New Zealand, Japan and rounding it off against Australia.