England coach Eddie Jones believes that a couple of tongue-in-cheek comments cost him the chance to coach the British & Irish Lions in 2021.
In his autobiography, Eddie Jones – My Life and Rugby, Jones reveals that he had a desire to take charge of the Lions during their tour to South Africa.
However, the head coaching job instead went to Warren Gatland, who has been in charge for the previous two tours to Australia in 2013 and New Zealand in 2017.
Jones reveals in the book that comments he made about the Irish and Welsh, intended to be comedic, may have harmed his chances, adding that he was not helped by an attempt to downplay the links between himself and the invitational side.
‘In my attempt to amuse the Japanese audience I referred to the “scummy Irish” and Wales as a “little s**t place”. I was embarrassed. Not only because the slurs weren’t funny but because they weren’t my real views. I was going for a cheap laugh. While it was clear in the video that I was smiling and joking, it looked bad. It was bad.
‘I have for a long time wanted to coach the British & Irish Lions. I still hope that, one day, I might get the opportunity. Apart from telling Pemby (communications adviser David Pembroke), I’d kept it a secret that I had set my sights on the 2021 tour of South Africa. That will be one of the great tours in the history of world rugby.
‘In preparation, we were keeping our powder dry and saying all the right things about how you have to be asked before you could consider it. But then I got a long-distance phone call from a journalist in Brisbane. I tried to have a laugh with him and said: “The last thing I want to do is spend eight weeks in a blazer. That’s an ambassador job. I’m a coach. I’d rather coach the Queensland Sheffield Shield [cricket] team.” Again, it was a terrible lapse of judgement.’
Jones adds that it was a case of bad judgement on his behalf and he is still not sure why he decided to make the comments.
‘Despite those comments, my genuine opinion is that it would be an honour and a privilege.’
Photo: Getty Images