Referees’ meetings are ‘waste of time’, says England coach Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones
Eddie Jones
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Eddie Jones is considering boycotting future World Rugby meetings for coaches and referees after declaring them a “waste of time”.

England were denied victory over New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday after a late try by Sam Underhill was ruled out for offside by referee Jerome Garces following intervention from TMO Marius Jonker.

The call against Courtney Lawes, who had charged down TJ Perenara’s box kick to give Underhill his opportunity, was borderline and has divided opinion.

Adding to England’s frustration is that at last week’s World Rugby-organised gathering of officials and coaches to discuss key areas of the game, the revised TMO protocol was outlined.

Among the changes is that try-scoring should be an on-field decision made by the referee and that the TMO should only be consulted in the case of a “clear and obvious” infringement, which Lawes’s offside was not.

Jones refuses to condemn the officials, but insists “there is something wrong, somewhere”.

“I don’t think I’ll go to another referees’ meeting in my life. It’s a waste of time,” said Jones.

“The referees have a tough job, tough decisions to make, and all we want in rugby is consistency in decision making. We are happy to take every decision they make.

“But if we have policies then we have to follow them. If we don’t follow them, then what is the point in being involved in those policies and decision making?

“I would rather just accept it and get on with it. Smile at the end of the game if it doesn’t go our way, know that if it does go our way, it won’t the next time.

“That’s the way it goes, you either get the rub of the green or you don’t. I don’t have any sour grapes at all about the game.

“You win some, you lose some, and get on with it. But there is something wrong, somewhere.”

George Kruis has been ruled out of the remaining two Quilter Internationals against Japan and Australia because of a calf injury, while Manu Tuilagi is unlikely to be play any role against the Brave Blossoms at Twickenham on Saturday.

England are determined to avoid any threat to Tuilagi’s comeback from a minor groin strain after the Leicester centre put years of injury misfortune behind him to propel himself into contention this autumn.

“Manu needs to go at absolutely 100 per cent. You see these games and they are getting so much more physically exacting. You need to be at 100 per cent,” Jones said.

“He’s a different sort of athlete. He’s like a racehorse that has to be their absolute best to run a mile at his best. He’s a finely tuned athlete and you have got to have him right.

“It is no use playing him when he is not right because all you do is cause damage, physical and psychological.”

Dylan Hartley should be available after being replaced at half-time against New Zealand due to a thumb problem, prematurely ending his finest display for England for some time.

“Generally speaking, he is going well. He can work a bit harder. More actions. More tackles, more clean-outs, more carries. He can do more of that, but he’s going well,” said Jones.

Saracens lock Kruis was replaced by Charlie Ewels in the 66th minute of the 16-15 defeat at Twickenham.

He will target a return from his latest injury setback in time for Saracens’ Champions Cup double-header against Cardiff Blues next month.

“George has got a calf injury. It’s highly unlikely he’ll be available again for a few weeks – anywhere from four to eight weeks,” Jones said.

“It’s a calf strain. He did it during the game. It’s disappointing because he’d been out injured for a while and was just coming back into form.

“We’ll certainly miss him, but it opens the door for Courtney Lawes or Charlie Ewels to come in. It’s testing the depth of the squad.”

Jones wants England to show no mercy against the team he coached to the greatest upset in rugby history when South Africa were stunned in Brighton at the 2015 World Cup.

“We want to smash Japan and it’s important our players have that mindset because it’s one of those tricky games,” he said.

“It’s a game you should win, you’re expected to win and if you go in with anything but an aggressive, physical mindset you get caught out. Japan have a record of showing how that can be done.”

Jones advised Japan to “go to the temple and pray” in the immediate aftermath of a controversial defeat by New Zealand, but he recalls his time with the minnows fondly.

“I loved it. I loved the players, loved the time there. I’m so pleased that Japan is now a serious member of the rugby community because they weren’t before,” said Jones.

“That’s why they’ve got this fixture. They’ve just played New Zealand. They played Australia recently, they’ve played Italy, they’re getting all these top fixtures now. They’ve got a World Cup there in 2019 so it’s been great for them.”

England wing Anthony Watson is one of four players to have agreed contract extensions with Bath.

Second-rows Charlie Ewels and Elliott Stooke and prop Nathan Catt have also signed new terms with the Premiership club.