James Haskell launches defense of Eddie Jones after transforming English culture


Eddie Jones won three Six Nations championships as England manager and James Haskell defended the manager amid continued criticism and credited him with changing the team’s environment.

Eddie Jones has been hailed for how he changed the English environment

James Haskell has launched a stern defense of England manager Eddie Jones, saying his failure to ‘play the game’ leads to unfair criticism.

The former Wasps star, who played under the Australian coach early in his tenure, winning the Grand Slam in 2016, called Jones “utterly brilliant”.

England have won three of the six Six Nations championships managed by Jones, having won only once in the previous 12 years.

The Red Rose have won one of their first two games, with some of the selection and substitution decisions in the loss to Scotland coming under criticism.

Jones is dividing opinion among fans, who Haskell says cling to every word spoken by Sir Clive Woodward, England’s 2003 World Cup-winning coach, who is not in and around the squad.

England bounced back from losing to Scotland by winning in Rome a fortnight ago

Haskell said: “He (Jones) doesn’t fit the archetypal mold of England supporters and because everyone sitting in the stands thinks they know better than everyone else.

“They read Clive Woodward in the Daily Mail doing flip flops more than anything – one week does this, the next week does that – because people believe he does.

“Half the journalists who killed Eddie Jones were never at a camp in England, never watched a training session. Yet the people leading the way are your Clive Woodwards, who never been slaughtered.

“Clive Woodward hasn’t trained since Stuart Lancaster took him down one day in 2014. So how can you comment on something you have no idea.

“It’s like watching the NFL and telling you what I can see at home. I don’t know what the game plan is.”

James Haskell won successive Six Nations championships under Eddie Jones

Haskell made his England debut in 2007 and worked under the likes of Martin Johnson and Stuart Lancaster.

The former player enjoyed a career in the jet set, playing in France, Japan and New Zealand, and believes the England camps before Jones arrived were among the worst he had attended.

He added: “Having played rugby all over the world, I know exactly what a good environment is, what a bad environment is, what a helpful environment is.

“Good coaches don’t grow on trees. From 2007 to 2015 I would say some of the worst environments I was involved in were with England.

“They just haven’t figured out how to motivate, how to be professional, how to win, what’s required, selection, personnel, everything.

“He, for me, understands. Are there any flaws, of course, there is no such thing as perfection.”