Wales vs England: Eddie Jones warns of Cardiff 'shenanigans'
England coach waits until the last minute before demanding that the roof is open at the Principality Stadium on Saturday
The roof will remain open tomorrow when Wales play England in the keenly-awaited Six Nations clash at the Principality Stadium after Eddie Jones landed an early blow for the visitors.
The Welsh had requested that the roof be closed for all of their home matches during the Six Nations but for that to happen the opposition must agree. When asked earlier in the week if he would cede to Wales' request, England coach Eddie Jones said: "I will make a decision on the roof later... it will matter when I have to make the decision."
Told by some local reporters that a closed roof added to the atmosphere in the Principality Stadium, Jones said: "I’m not an entertainer, I’m a coach."
Six Nations rules stipulate that the opposition coach must inform the WRU of his decision no later than 48 hours before kick-off - which in this case was 4.50pm on Thursday.
According to the Daily Telegraph Jones "took it to the wire, declaring he wanted it open just six minutes before the cut-off point". The paper added that by doing so he had "struck the first blow in the battle to take the honours" in the match that could see England extend their winning run to 16 games - just two short of the world record currently held by New Zealand.
England travel to Cardiff as favourites and in the knowledge that they haven't lost to Wales in the Six Nations since 2013. On that occasion, however, it wasn't so much a defeat as a humiliation, the Welsh thrashing England 30-3 in what had been a title decider.
Two years later England gained some measure of revenge when Chris Robshaw captained them to a 21-16 win in Cardiff. That match was also notable for what happened in the tunnel before kick-off when Robshaw refused to lead his side onto the pitch but instead waited for the Wales team to emerge from their dressing room.
In doing so he demonstrated strong and stubborn leadership in resisting Welsh attempts to leave their opponents shivering in the night air as tens of thousands of Wales fans screamed abuse.
Jones has suggested that Wales may have another trick up their sleeves tomorrow, or as he called it "shenanigans". He then said: "The Welsh are a cunning lot. They have got goats, they have got daffodils, we are preparing for anything."
Wales vs England: Eddie Jones gambles for Cardiff showdown
England rugby coach Eddie Jones has named Jack Clifford in an inexperienced back row as his side face the challenge of maintaining their 15-match winning run against Wales in Cardiff.
Clifford replaces Tom Wood, who has been relegated to the bench after suffering a shoulder injury in the uninspiring victory over France at the weekend.
James Haskell is also among the replacements and with Chris Robshaw and Billy Vunipola out injured, "it leaves Clifford, Maro Itoje – who makes only his second international back-row appearance – and Nathan Hughes comprising the back row", says Gerard Meagher of The Guardian. "Wales have selected two British & Irish Lions in Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, alongside Gloucester’s 22-year-old Ross Moriarty."
A third Lion, number eight Taulupe Faletau, is named on the Wales bench after recovering from a knee injury.
It is "quite some gamble", says Alex Lowe of The Times. The last time England went to Cardiff with a "makeshift back row... they were overrun", he says.
"Jones will insist he is not rolling the dice but reacting to circumstance. Haskell is not fit to start, Wood was not influential enough against France and Jones will have had in his mind Clifford’s performance against Wales at Twickenham in May, when he was superb at number eight."
But according to Mick Cleary of the Daily Telegraph, England head west "with a forward pack built on trust and hope rather than proven ability".
The team have a newfound self-belief, but it will be tested at the weekend, particularly at the breakdown, he adds: "On the evidence of selection, as well as home advantage, Wales will start as marginal favourites. The flip side of that assessment is that an England win would be a significant achievement."
in the backs, Jack Nowell replaces Jonny May for England, while Wales have been boosted by the inclusion of winger George North and fly-half Dan Biggar, who were both considered doubts after picking up injuries in the win over Italy on Sunday.
The Welsh will also rival England's strength in depth. The English bench is impressive, with the likes of Haskell, Danny Care and Ben Te'o available, but Wales can call on Faletau, Jamie Roberts and Samson Lee.