Rugby-RFU head Sweeney shares England fans' disappointment


  • Rugby
  • Sunday, 27 Nov 2022

Rugby Union - International - England v South Africa - Twickenham Stadium, London, Britain - November 26, 2022 England head coach Eddie Jones during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Tony Obrien

LONDON (Reuters) - Bill Sweeney, the CEO of the Rugby Football Union, said he was "really disappointed" with England's autumn series results but gave no indication that coach Eddie Jones was in any danger of being removed.

England delivered a poor display and were booed off at Twickenham after being outplayed 27-13 by South Africa on Saturday, following a draw with New Zealand, defeat to Argentina and a victory over Japan.

“We would like to thank England fans for their patience and support, it matters to us how they feel," Sweeney said in a statement on Sunday.

"Like them we are really disappointed with the results. Despite strong individual performances and some great new talent coming into the team, the overall results are not where we expect them to be.”

As is usual after each Six Nations and November series, the latest games will now be discussed by the secretive RFU review panel which includes anonymous board and executive members along with former players and coaches.

While Jones's position will undoubtedly be on the agenda, it would appear highly unlikely that Sweeney is considering replacing him, 10 months out from the World Cup, but a series of pundits have been suggesting it is time for a change after England won five of their 12 games in 2022.

"The Armageddon decision is to let Eddie Jones go and allow someone to get in as head coach and make changes now, with the Six Nations ahead of them," 2003 World Cup winning coach Matt Dawson told the BBC.

"Or, if those in charge don't change Jones, they tell Jones he has to change. And change something substantial and fast. There have to be some tough conversations to talk about why they are playing the way they are."

Dawson's former team mate Lawrence Dallaglio said there was no chance Jones would go and instead aimed his frustration at the players.

"There are two big problems with this England team: I don’t get the impression that they are taking real responsibility and accountability for recent poor performances; nor do they seem to understand that starting well against Tier One opposition is imperative. The two are, of course, almost certainly related," he wrote in the Times.

"I'm not implying that any of this England group are lacking heart but are they feeling the pain of defeat so acutely? If they were then they would be publicly apologising for yesterday — something which would send a strong message not just to the nation but to each other.

"Right now, it’s difficult to understand how they could allow themselves to fall so far behind again by halftime after seeing New Zealand pull 25-6 ahead last time out.

"Success at test level flows from trust and consistency — something which Ireland and France have in abundance. Within the England camp, they are in short supply. They might be ranked fifth in the world but this England are a long way behind those above them."

(Reporting By Mitch Phillips, editing by Clare Fallon)

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