In Depth

Six Nations: is England head coach Eddie Jones on his way out?

RFU denies an approach has been made to South Africa’s Rassie Erasmus

England beat Scotland at a storm-swept Murrayfield on Saturday to win the Calcutta Cup but in a dire game of Six Nations rugby most of the talking points were about events off the field.

One of the England coaching staff, Neil Craig, was hit by a plastic bottle thrown from the crowd and thousands of Scottish fans booed and jeered Owen Farrell every time he kicked for goal. 

Despite the Edinburgh aggression, England kept their composure amid gale-force winds and driving rain to win 13-6 with substitute prop Ellis Genge scoring the only try of the game when he barreled over from close range on 70 minutes.

Sausage swipe

In a bristling post-match interview Genge labelled England’s critics as “sausages”, and he was followed to the microphone by an equally acerbic Eddie Jones. 

“We weren’t expecting beer bottles to be thrown at us,” said England head coach Jones. “That’s a pretty good achievement isn’t it, throwing beer bottles. You have to be pretty brave to throw a beer bottle. Neil has a hard head, I know that, and there is not much inside it!”

Despite trying to make light of the incident, Jones was visibly angry at the antics of the Scottish crowd, added: “It’s not good behaviour… If that’s how the Scottish fans are going to be respectful we have to acknowledge it and just get on with it.”

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Scots sorry

In response to the incident a Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) spokesperson said an apology had been “extended” to England, adding that “there is no evidence the bottle was thrown or intended to hit any individual”.

The defeat will increase the pressure on Scotland coach Gregor Townsend, whose side are still without a win the championship, as will an interview in The Sunday Times with Finn Russell. 

The fly-half, axed from the squad last month after allegedly breaking team regulations, challenged the official version of events and said there was little chance of his returning to the squad as long as Townsend remained at the helm.

England eye Erasmus?

Meanwhile the Rugby Football Union (RFU) were forced to issue a statement on Sunday denying media reports that they have sounded out South Africa chief Rassie Erasmus about replacing Jones. 

Erasmus guided the Springboks to Rugby World Cup glory last year, including a 32-12 hammering of England in the final, and has since changed roles to become the country’s director of rugby.

South African media claimed at the weekend that the RFU have made an approach to Erasmus to replace Jones, whose contract expires in 2021.

But that drew a swift response from RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney, who said: “The reports are 100% inaccurate. There has been no meeting. There have been no talks whatsoever about any position at the RFU.”

According to The Daily Telegraph, Erasmus is in the UK for commercial reasons and his lawyer, Frikkie Erasmus, told the paper: “He is flavour of the month because he won the World Cup, so he is being linked with every position going, but he has no intention of going anywhere.”

Irish eyes smiling

In the weekend’s other two matches, Ireland comfortably beat Wales 24-14 and France were a model of inconsistency in seeing off a spirited Italian outfit 35-22 in Paris. 

The week two results leaves the French and the Irish as the only two unbeaten teams in the tournament but neither has yet hit the road in the championship. 

That will change in a fortnight when Ireland travel to Twickenham and France face Wales in Cardiff.

Six Nations results and fixtures 

Round two results
  • Ireland 24 Wales 14  
  • Scotland 6 England 13 
  • France 35 Italy 22
Round three fixtures
  • Saturday 22 February: Italy vs. Scotland (2.15pm GMT; ITV); Wales vs. France (4.45pm GMT; BBC and S4C)  
  • Sunday 23 February: England vs. Ireland (3pm GMT; ITV)

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