“We’ve got to trust the referees, respect their integrity”, said Eddie Jones this week, after the furore over Wales’ disallowed try rumbled on with World Rugby confirming that the TMO should have awarded the try (let’s ignore Steff Evans’ knock on for now!).
Jones went on to say, “I just think once the game’s done and dusted that’s the game, you can’t have retrospective refereeing of decisions being done. We’ve got to trust the referees, respect their integrity. When I say respect the referee, that’s the TV process as well, and then you leave it at that. One side’s won, one side’s lost.”
Great stuff – very laudable, but let’s rewind a week and focus on another of Eddie’s interviews in the build up to the England – Wales game. In Jones’ view the Welsh captain Alun-Wyn Jones had prevented the Scottish fly-half from taking a conversion in the preceeding weekend’s Wales-Scotland fixture. Referee Pascal Gauzere was there on the spot and decided no action was needed, but that didn’t stop Jones:
“All we say is just to be respectful [to referees]……It’s not great for the game and I’ve said something to World Rugby about it, I feel that strongly. We’ve got to respect the integrity of the referee in the game.”
How and why the coach of a team can discuss with World Rugby the actions of a captain of a team he is due to play is a whole different issue, but the point here is Jones felt unable to trust Gauzere to do his job in the Wales-Scotland game but just 7 days later he feels the need to preach to the masses that officials should be left to do their job.
It’s great to see Jones has such concern for the integrity of referees but does his track record back that up?
Fine for criticising a referee
In 2007, as coach of Queensland Reds, Jones was fined A$10,000 for comments made about referee Matt Goddard after a Super Rugby fixture against the ACT Brumbies.
Jones pleaded guilty to breaching the code of conduct and described the referee’s second-half handling of the scrums in the Brisbane match as “ludicrous” and “disgraceful”.
Italy and the ruck tactic
Jones wasn’t a fan of the tactic Italy deployed in the 2017 6 Nations clash, where Italian defenders stood off the tackle meaning a ruck wasn’t formed – and therefore no offside line was created.
The England coach was less than complimentary about the tactic and accused the French referee Romain Poite of being “flustered”:
“The referee got flustered – I have never seen a referee lose his perspective of the game [like that].”
Remember Jones’ comment about the TMO controversy and that once the game is finished, “…..you leave it at that.”, well he took the opposite tack after the Italian game and suggested that World Rugby should “look at it”, meaning change the law (which is incidentally exactly what happened):
“I don’t think anyone wants to see a game like that. No-one likes to see rugby not played in its proper form so World Rugby will have to have a very close look at it.”
Owen Farrell and Australia
In the 2017 test between England and Australia, Owen Farrell was criticised by some for seemingly influence the referee to consult the TMO for an offence in the build up to Marika Koroibete’s try.
When quizzed about this after the game Jones said:
“If the referee accepts the way he [the referee] spoke to him was alright then that’s alright for me”
And yet when Pascal Gauzere was happy with Alun-Wyn Jones’ conduct during the recent Wales-Scotland game, he referred the incident to World Rugby!
Not so nice guy Eddie
Eddie Jones has no interest in protecting rugby’s integrity and ensuring respect for officials is maintained, as his history has shown, but what he does have is an interest in using the media to influence both the governing body and officials.
Jones is undoubtedly an excellent coach but he is in danger of tarnishing both his own legacy and rugby’s values with these harmful and inflammatory statements.
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