Sir Clive Woodward: Eddie Jones’ sole focus on 2023 World Cup was ‘costly error’
By PA Sport Staff
Sir Clive Woodward believes Eddie Jones will be remembered for “misguided rhetoric and unfulfilled promises” during his time as England head coach.
Woodward, who led England to World Cup glory in 2003, and Jones were rival coaches when his team beat Australia to lift the trophy 19 years ago.
Jones’ seven-year reign with England ended on Tuesday following a Rugby Football Union review of an Autumn Nations Series campaign that saw defeats against Argentina and South Africa.
“I am always sorry to see people lose their job, but Eddie Jones has been badly distracted since the last World Cup and he’s paid the price,” Woodward wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“He is a much better coach than he has shown over the past three years. He is a shadow of the Jones I competed with, and whose first years with England were so successful and rightfully applauded.
“He became completely focused on the 2023 World Cup, and that was a costly error.
“International rugby is very simple: focus everything on the next game with absolutely zero distractions. The fans who pump the money into the sport didn’t buy his hype.
“What will Jones’ legacy be? The semi-final victory over New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup was his best performance, but unfortunately, he will be remembered for the misguided rhetoric and unfulfilled promises.
“I don’t think history will remember this period of English rugby too kindly.”
Jones’ successor has yet to be announced, although Leicester boss Steve Borthwick – a former England forwards coach who masterminded Tigers’ Gallagher Premiership title triumph last term – is the clear favourite.
Woodward added: “If it is Steve Borthwick who comes in then we’ve all got to get behind him and I wish him all the best.
“I hope they don’t just pick him because he’s an Englishman. I hope they pick him because they think he’s the best coach in the world.
“He must be allowed to bring in his own coaching team, and if I was him I would definitely bring Kevin Sinfield over from Leicester.”
But former Australia star Matt Giteau, who played in the 2003 World Cup final, believes it is a “big mistake” to remove Jones as England boss.
“It would have to be the silliest thing they could do to the English rugby team,” Giteau said, on Twitter.
“He plans & plans & plans years in advance for this competition (World Cup). It’s the one competition that he has got consistently right time and time again. Big mistake imo.”