It’s just like Eddie. He can’t help himself, can he? Always has to be the sharpest man in the room.
Well, it may have been a year ago that he was caught, inevitably, by someone’s camera phone, but these things always come back to bite in today’s dizzying whirl of social media outrage and this was the week that the abrasive England coach felt a sharp sting in his rear end.
England coach Eddie Jones showed an unpleasant side of his make-up in the video clip doing the rounds this week. Speaking during an engagement last year at a leadership conference for Fuso, the Japanese parent company of England team sponsors Mitsubishi, the Australian was videoed making comments about “scummy Irish” and labelling Wales “a shit place”.
Just a couple of hours after the clip went viral he was forced to say sorry for any offence caused.
The timing of this video’s airing is, of course, not in the best interests of Jones given he is under the greatest pressure of his tenure as England boss. After dusting off the Red Rose in the wake of the country’s awful World Cup debacle on home soil under predecessor Stuart Lancaster, Jones restored English pride on a 17-match unbeaten run that lifted them to number two in the world rankings and delivered a Six Nations Grand Slam and series win against the Wallabies in his native Australia, all in the first 12 months of his employment.
Then came the first defeat, that Dublin loss last March to Joe Schmidt’s Ireland which stopped the bid for back-to-back Slams and exposed the first faultline in the Jones set-up, that his players were easily knocked out of their comfort zone by a team willing to get in their faces and harass them at the breakdown.
It took another year and a couple of World Rugby law amendments around the ruck to further expose those frailties but in the last two rounds of this 2018 Six Nations, England, missing their chief breakdown and ball-carrying threat in Billy Vunipola, have been blown away in successive games by Scotland and France’s ruck tactics.
Which brings us to this weekend and the arrival of the “scummy Irish” at Twickenham on Paddy’s Day to take a Grand Slam back home with them.
It is no gimme by any measure given that for all Jones’s setbacks he is still to lose a home game at their south-west London citadel.
And Ireland back-rower CJ Stander, trying his hardest not to lick his lips at the prospect of a field day at the breakdown this weekend, acknowledged that after last year’s Aviva Stadium victory, the Irish will be facing 23 angry Englishman hellbent on vengeance for their lost Slam of 2017 on Saturday afternoon.
Yet Schmidt and his players will pitch up at Twickenham knowing they have never had a better opportunity of sealing victory at “Headquarters” and earning their place in the Irish Rugby pantheon as just the third Irish team to secure a Grand Slam.
Jones, speaking in the wake of England’s defeat in Paris last Saturday night, cut a very different figure to the one captured on video at that conference last year.
Gone was the cocksure manner and wise-cracking smirk – there were times when his delivery in that address was Trumpian in character – and instead was laid bare a coach admitting he had been unable to fix the deficiencies of the previous week at Murrayfield. That lightning had struck twice and it may take 18 months for him to alter the habits of his players when it came to the way they approached the breakdown.
No-one in Ireland will dare to tempt fate and say Jones is a busted flush just yet, though there is the thought that there may be a touch of the Jose Mourinhos about his England tenure and that two years into the job, the novelty – and the gruelling training sessions – is beginning to wear off.
Just like Mourinho’s two or three-year cycles at Europe’s top football clubs, there are whispers that when Jones’s time with England is up it will end, in the spectacular fashion of crash and burn finales.
After the week that’s in it Ireland supporters would love their team to be the architects of the disrespectful Jones’s downfall, although that would appear unlikely to happen this Saturday at Twickenham for this looks like being one of those typical, pressure-filled occasions decided by the finest of margins.
Ireland, already crowned Six Nations champions for the third time in five seasons have wrested Northern Hemisphere rugby’s greatest prize back from England’s clutches and in Schmidt and his squad have the firepower to make them pay all over again.
Every way you look at that, it does not bode well for Eddie.