The English RFU have reprimanded head coach Eddie Jones after he slammed referee Ben O’Keeffe following England’s Six Nations win over Wales.
Jones went onto the offensive against O’Keeffe after England were reduced to 13 men in the closing stages of their 33-30 win at Twickenham last weekend.
In particular, Jones seemed irate at the decision to show Manu Tuilagi a red card for a dangerous head-high shoulder charge on Wales win George North. Replacement prop Ellis Genge was also shown yellow for repeated infringements.
Tuilagi has since been handed a four-match ban for the tackle, which could see him miss the final weekend of the Six Nations, depending on how the now-suspended fixture list pans out.
‘At the end, it is hard when you are playing with 13 against 16,’ Jones said in the post-match press conference. ‘I do not usually comment on decisions, but I do not see how you can tackle a guy now. It’s absolute rubbish. There is no common sense shown.’
Reportedly under pressure from World Rugby, the English RFU have given Jones a tap on the knuckles, but have decided not to hand the coach a fine or stadium ban. Jones himself has also not had to issue an official apology to O’Keeffe.
‘The RFU does not condone comments that undermine the integrity of match officials, who are central to the sport and its values,’ chairperson Bill Sweeney said in a statement.
‘We have discussed with England head coach Eddie Jones the nature of the comments he made to the media in the immediate aftermath of a dramatic finish to the England versus Wales Guinness Six Nations match on Saturday, and have made it clear that such comments are not in line with the values of the sport or the RFU.
‘Eddie and the RFU regret any implication that Ben O’Keeffe was biased in his decision making. We have outlined this position to the tournament organisers the Six Nations and World Rugby, who will pass on our apologies to Ben O’Keeffe and the match officials team.
‘In the meantime, Eddie Jones and the RFU have proposed a high level discussion forum with World Rugby to help achieve greater general alignment between coaches and match officials.
‘All parties are satisfied the matter has been dealt with appropriately, are confident that further action would be taken should such a situation occur in the future, and consider the matter to be closed.’
It is not the first time that Jones has found himself in hot water with the RFU. In 2018, Jones had to apologise to Bath owner Bruce Craig after calling him the ‘Donald Trump of rugby’. Jones is set to hold talks with Sweeney in the coming weeks over extending his contract which is set to expire at the end of 2021.
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