Not for the first time, Eddie Jones has been in the spotlight after opening his mouth.
The England head coach has been forced to apologise for offensive comments he made about Ireland and Wales at a sponsors’ talk in July 2017.
It was there that Jones referred to Wales as a “shit little place”, before later going on to explain how he was disappointed by a recent loss to the “scummy Irish”.
Video of the footage, which has emerged online, suggests there was no malice in Jones’ words and he has, to his credit, apologised unreservedly.
However, this latest episode is a reminder of Jones’ sharp tongue and his love of mind games.
Since he was placed in charge of England in November 2015, the Australian has captured the media with his quick one-liners and analogies.
Truth be told, it is nothing new from Jones, as fly-half Matt Giteau pointed out on Twitter when his former boss was placed in charge of the Red Rose.
“Good choice picking Eddie Jones as England coach,” Giteau tweeted. “Smart coach & will call a spade a spade! I’ve copped many sprays off him over the yrs (sic).”
True to form, Jones has stuck to his guns and throughout his tenure we have seen (and heard) examples of his mind games and quick wit.
However, like the recent episode at the sponsors’ talk back in July, they have not always been well received.
There was, of course, Jones’ high-profile attack on Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton in February 2016 just months after he had taken charge.
Ahead of their match in the Six Nations, Jones raised medicals concerns about Sexton — who has a history of head injuries.
“I’d just be worried about his welfare if he has had whiplash injuries, and I’m sure his mother and father would be,” said Jones.
“If you are saying a guy has got whiplash then he has had a severe trauma. Maybe they used the wrong term but if you have had a severe trauma you have got to worry about the welfare of the player.”
Jones later apologised for those comments, but the verbal jousting has continued.
Ahead of this year’s Six Nations match with Wales, he targeted fly-half Rhys Patchell and warned him he would “be under some heat” at Twickenham. Jones added: “He’s a young guy, he’s inexperienced and is their third-choice 10.”
Even before this year’s tournament started, at the launch in London, Jones was at it again as he claimed Ireland were favourites to win the competition and England big underdogs. Scotland, meanwhile, were dubbed “the darlings of European rugby” by the Australian.
While comments like those are not offensive and require no need for apology, there could be the concern that they are losing their impact and wearing thin.
Indeed when Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw was asked about Jones’ words ahead of the Calcutta Cup last month, he merely responded: “It’s hard not to hear these days. Eddie’s got a lot to say hasn’t he?”
The truth is, for now, Jones’ mind games should still have an effect — provided he does not overstep the mark as he has in the past.
However, if England fall to a third defeat in a row this weekend against Ireland then questions will surely be raised.
Jokes with the media and humorous one-liners are all well and good, but it is results that matter.
In many ways, it risks going the same way as Jose Mourinho’s time in England. When he arrived at Chelsea in 2004, the Portuguese wooed the media and was revered from the moment he proclaimed himself “the Special One” at his very first press conference.
However, as results have turned, so have people’s patience for Mourinho’s comments and acts like his branding of Arsene Wenger as a “specialist in failure” and his recent attack on Antonio Conte have not been as well received.
Of course, it is by no means set in stone that Jones could lose the love of the media or, for that matter, his players. However, words lose their weight when results are not backing them. When Jones took charge of England it was his 13th job switch in 20 years, an indication perhaps that there is a time limit on how long his powers can work their magic.
This weekend is a chance for the Australian to dispel that myth.
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