Clive Woodward says the result of the third Test against the Springboks could determine Eddie Jones’ future as England coach.
England’s 23-12 defeat in Bloemfontein saw South Africa take an unassailable 2-0 lead in the three-match series. It was England’s fifth straight Test loss and sixth if you include the match against the Barbarians.
In a column for the Daily Mail, Woodward said the team’s poor run was more than a dip.
‘It’s time for England to smell the coffee and start appreciating what a deep hole they have dug for themselves,’ he wrote. ‘That is why the third Test in Cape Town is so crucial. Technically it’s a dead rubber but, in fact, it’s now the most important match of Eddie Jones’ England career.
‘Somehow England have to re-energise and sharpen up mentally. They must stop the rot, otherwise, this losing run will hang over them for five months and cast a long shadow over the English game.
‘There is too much noise around this England team. Starters, finishers, brain coaches, arguments with the clubs, these “missing” players, injuries in training sessions. Everything needs to be reined in.
‘Generally, I thought Eddie handled the fall-out on Saturday night pretty well but I did cringe when he started trotting out the line that England were without 25 players. Really? I can only think of two — Anthony Watson and Dylan Hartley — who would have started these Tests while Ben Te’o and Courtney Lawes might have featured at some stage.’
‘An England XV with their core players present should be capable of winning a game anywhere in the world but only if they do the basics right.
‘Eddie Jones has been in corners before in his coaching career but he has never been in a situation like this. He will be hurting badly and this week will tell us much about Jones and this England team.’
Meanwhile, RFU CEO Steve Brown and chairman Andy Cosslett have declined to answer any questions relating to Jones’ future as England coach.
With an astronomical £750,000 (R13.3-million)-a-year salary, Jones is the best-paid international boss, but the 58-year-old is fast becoming public enemy No 1.
When pressed for an answer regarding Jones’ future, both Brown and Cosslett refused to comment. Instead, the RFU issue a nine-word statement which read: ‘The RFU supports Eddie Jones and his coaching team.’
Cosslett flew to Johannesburg on Sunday, while Brown was forced to cancel his trip to deal with a fallout after it was announced that the RFU is set to make up to 100 staff redundant.
Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga/BackpagePix