England players told RFU chief that sacking Eddie Jones was ‘right decision’ | England rugby union team

The Rugby Football Union chief executive Bill Sweeney has claimed that England players told him they felt it was the “right decision” to sack Eddie Jones as head coach nine months before the World Cup.

No members of the England squad have publicly supported the decision to remove Jones from his post after seven years in the job, so close to the World Cup, but Sweeney has said that privately, those that he spoke to endorsed change.

Speaking 10 days after Jones was sacked, Courtney Lawes – who missed the disappointing autumn campaign through injury but captained England on the summer tour of Australia – revealed he had not been consulted and was not aware of any players who had been. He said that he was “sad” to see Jones go while captain for the autumn, Owen Farrell, had previously said it was “unbelievably disappointing”, adding that “I don’t think it has come from the players”.

Lewis Ludlam was also among those to give his views, saying: “I don’t necessarily agree that it was the right decision” to sack Jones, who, in an exclusive interview with the Guardian last week, said that he had received message of thanks from “at least 50 players” he had selected for England.

Speaking to The Good, The Bad & The Rugby podcast, Sweeney said: “I spoke to a number [of players], Conor [O’Shea, the RFU’s director of performance rugby] spoke to a number. The conversations I had, without naming players because I don’t think it would be fair or reasonable to do that, were disappointed in terms of the decision of Eddie going but [had] a real understanding and support for the decision being made.

“The ones that I spoke to said, ‘look we’re disappointed for Eddie, we like Eddie but we understand why the decision was taken’ and without naming players said, ‘we think it’s the right decision’. In terms of changing what needed to be changed to go into 2023 in a stronger position.

“One of them said to me, ‘I was misquoted in the media because what I said was I was disappointed for Eddie but I wasn’t disappointed in the RFU decision but that was reported as I’m disappointed in the decision’. So the ones I spoke to got the overall situation.”

Expanding on the decision to sack Jones and replace him with Steve Borthwick, Sweeney also denied that the chorus of boos that rang around Twickenham after the dismal defeat by South Africa in November was not behind the decision. He added: “Some things weren’t quite clicking, weren’t working the way we all thought they were going to work, probably the way Eddie thought they were going to work. We reached the situation following the review where we felt some changes had to be made that probably Eddie wasn’t able to put into place just because of the tenure of the job.

“You sense the fans’ frustration. Nobody wants to hear booing at Twickenham after the South Africa match but that wouldn’t be a reason to make a decision to change the head coach, it was other factors.”

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