Eddie Jones's black eye eclipses Six Nations launch
England coach confirms Dylan Hartley as captain, but journalists are more intrigued by his ice-pack and bandages
Rugby coach Eddie Jones looked as if he had emerged from the bottom of a ruck as he confirmed Dylan Hartley as England captain for the forthcoming Six Nations while sporting a black eye and a bandaged head and clutching an ice-pack.
His battered appearance "overshadowed the traditional competition launch", said Julian Bennetts of the Daily Telegraph. "The Australian joked he had injured himself taking part in mixed martial arts but later admitted he had taken a tumble getting out of the shower after forgetting to shave. Jones is confident he will have made a full recovery in time to oversee Thursday’s training session."
But others were not so sure about his injury. "The England head coach is thought to have taken a tumble as he arrived at the Hurlingham Club in London," said Alex Lowe of The Times. "Perhaps Eddie Jones should take some lessons from his newly-recruited visual awareness expert."
Wales Online said Jones's explanation "appeared to have come from the White House's 'alternative facts' manual", before suggesting that the England coach being the centre of attention was a taste of things to come.
"In the grander scheme of the 2017 Six Nations, all this will, of course, prove trivial," the site's Delme Parfitt said. "Yet Jones making himself the story before a ball has been kicked in anger, however much fate played its part, will likely prove to be a microcosm of the coming two months.
"With Warren Gatland temporarily off the scene [preparing for the Lions tour], this is the England boss's show for the time being."
Jones's appearance certainly provoked more headlines than the news that Hartley will continue as skipper despite serving a six-week ban after being sent off during Northampton’s defeat to Leinster in December, leaving him short of match fitness ahead of the tournament.
England will also be without key personnel, with Mako and Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw, Manu Tuilagi and, potentially, James Haskell all missing through injury.