Former England international Austin Healey has accused head coach Eddie Jones of not affording the team the respect it deserves with the 2023 Rugby World Cup around the corner
At least that appears to be the view of former British and Irish Lion Austin Healey, who has accused the Australian of disrespecting his current employers. One might think Jones would have a laser focus after winning just two Six Nations wins for a second straight year, but his attentions have seemed elsewhere.
This comes after the 62-year-old recently confirmed reports he’s discussed the prospect of taking over Parisian outfit Racing 92 when his contract expires next year. He’s also maintained an advisory role at Japanese club Tokyo Sungoliath, conjuring fears England’s secrets may be divulged to potential rivals.
It’s this kind of behaviour that’s led Healey to believe Jones may be “taking the post for granted and disrespecting it.” The ex- Leicester Tigers veteran referred to his own experience of being told to rein in his extracurricular activities in order to focus on rugby.
“One of the main things that annoyed me about playing for England was that Clive Woodward had a term for some people, ‘energy sappers’, someone who wasn’t fully focused, drawing energy from others,” Healey wrote for the Telegraph. “He would call me in and tell me to stop doing so much commercial work, that it was affecting my game – no more book deals, adverts. Then a few weeks later you would see Clive’s next book come out and think ‘hang on, we’re either all in this together or we’re not’.
“With Eddie, people know that he’s obsessed with coaching, but everyone wants to see that focus with England. Maybe don’t go over to Japan, or talk about joining Racing 92, or release another book or speak at dinners. Because that is a distraction. And to use Clive’s term, that is ‘energy sapping’.”
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England finished as runners-up at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, but a dismal couple of years in the Six Nations suggest they could be found wanting against elite opposition. Rumours earlier this year even suggested England could change coach ahead of France 2023, though it appears certain Jones will be the man at the wheel for what should be his farewell contest.
Having been called cocky himself—both during and after his playing career—Healey feels comfortable suggesting Jones “appears to be a bit too arrogant with it all.” The former Premiership playmaker covers himself by encouraging the public to rally behind Jones, though he wants the coach to show the same reverence by returning the favour.
Many of the players hoping to travel to France will be devoted to that tournament, with little afterthought as to what might occur afterwards. The same can’t be said for Jones as he considers his options elsewhere, however, and taking one’s eye off the ball can often prove fatal in rugby.