Former England full-back Mike Brown believes Eddie Jones has “run out of excuses” and that it is time for a change in the Twickenham hot-seat.
Writing in his column for the Daily Mail, the international veteran didn’t hold back on how he views the current situation in and around the England camp.
It’s time for change
“I have spoken to a lot of people in and around the England setup and it feels like it is time for change,” revealed the former Harlequins and England full-back.
“Eddie Jones has lost the support of the public and it’s hard to see how he can turn that around.
“As far as talent goes, there’s no reason why England shouldn’t be fighting with the likes of Ireland, France and South Africa. He’s not getting the best out of his resources and he’s run out of excuses.”
He added: “Eddie is an experienced coach and, from my own experience, what he does on the grass is good. His tactical and technical knowledge is second-to-none but that only gets you so far. Rugby players have changed a lot over the last decade and the environment coaches create is more important than ever.”
Brown revealed that after speaking with those inside the camp and from his time playing under Jones, he feels the players are fearful which holds them back.
“Speaking from my own experiences, and hearing from others, the England team is an environment of fear,” he continued. “Players are scared of making mistakes and I believe that reflects with what is delivered on the pitch. Things like kicking the ball out when you’re drawing with 14-man All Blacks, have all the momentum, in what is effectively a friendly is an example of that.”
Brown was also concerned about the regular comings and goings in the coaching team for England and suggested there are non-disclosure agreements in place.
“Eddie’s the leader of that environment,” he said. “Why have there not been more questions asked about the massive turnover of staff? In any other business sphere that would be a red flag. You hear of guys signing NDAs when they leave their posts. Why don’t they want them to talk?
“Whenever a coach moves on it is always presented as a success story for England’s production line. You don’t take on a job with England to use it as a leg up for something else. It’s one of the top jobs in world rugby. Why do they keep wanting to leave? Why did Danny Kerry want to leave a few days into the job this autumn? All of these little stories add up. It’s glaringly obvious that there’s a problem with staff churn and that starts with the leader at the top, Eddie.”
The full-back continued that he had grown tired of Jones’ comments in the media after poor showings, once again saying players are fearful of voicing opinions.
Scared to challenge him
“No one has ever investigated that or held him to account and it sounds like the penny has finally dropped,” he said. “We’re all bored of hearing Eddie come out and say ‘it’s all my fault’, ‘I take full responsibility’, when the have a bad defeat because it’s an inconsequential soundbite. His go-to line. We had some great results during Eddie’s early years but maybe he’s complicated things trying to prove his rugby knowledge.
“It’s all well and good asking the players for their views but I don’t think you will ever get full transparency because they’ve got to think of themselves. If Bill Sweeney rings Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje, Marcus Smith are they going to throw Eddie under the bus? They won’t want to risk their place in the team and who can blame them.
“It’s your dream on the line, the pride of playing for your country and the financial rewards of almost £20,000 a game. I’ve seen first-hand that if you challenge Eddie – like Danny Care, Danny Cipriani, Alex Goode – then you get moved on very quickly.”
Jones is set to learn his fate early this coming week, with the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) review into a dismal Autumn Nations Series set to finish on Tuesday.
If the Australian was to leave the England hot-seat, Brown has stood firm on who he would like to see come in ahead of the Six Nations and Rugby World Cup.
“Moving forwards, I think the RFU need to look outside the box,” he said. “Steve Borthwick would be the classic RFU selection but he wouldn’t be my pick. Steve learnt his trade under Eddie so he’s going to be similar levels of detail and intensity. He had a fantastic start to his Leicester career and he’s a brilliant technician.
Scott Robertson backing
“But I’ve already backed Scott Robertson and I stand by that. Scott has worked with one of the most successful clubs in world rugby in the Crusaders and they have certain aspects that are most like a northern hemisphere team. Yes, he hasn’t experienced the landscape of English rugby but we had a few conversations during the Barbarians camp and he has unbelievable awareness of himself and what people he would need to get around him to fill the gaps.
“He listens to people, understands different personalities and I’ve seen how well he builds relationships to connect with everyone around him. You need someone who is going to bring that enjoyment, confidence and help these talented players to flourish in an England shirt.
“In sport we’ve seen enough evidence that there’s an immediate reaction to bringing someone in. Just look at what happened at Harlequins when they sacked Paul Gustard and won the Premiership a few months later. England have the talent to see a reaction and I think the right changes would completely change the mood for players, staff and supporters, going into next year’s World Cup.”