Stuart Barnes Absolutely Savages Eddie Jones For His Reaction To Italy’s Tactics

Stuart Barnes has blasted Eddie Jones for his reaction to Italy’s tactics on Sunday.

Jones was highly critical of O’Shea’s tactics following the game, stating that ‘it was not rugby’ and that the fans should be offered a refund as a result. Barnes however thinks Jones should be ashamed of himself, based on his tactics from the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

The 2003 final was contested between England and Australia, with Jones head coach of the Wallabies at the time. In that game Australia were so overpowered in the scrum that their only hope of winning was to collapse the set piece at every opportunity.

According to Barnes ‘the plan was to ensure that England could not eke out penalties, territory, pressure and points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.’ Barnes says Australia conned their way to extra-time as a result of this clever tactic.

“Well, what were the Wallabies expected to do, follow the game to the letter of the rules and be scrummaged out of the World Cup final? With the benefit of Andre Watson, a South African referee with a lenient interpretation of the scrum laws, Australia conned their way to extra time. England were forced to bring Jason Leonard on from the bench, not to finish off Australia’s scrum but to hold it up, to make sure the infinitely weaker scrum did not nick the tournament off the back of errant scrum penalties. That was “not what the game should be like”. Had England lost, their fans would have wanted their flights refunded, let alone the price of a ticket.”

Barnes says what Italy did on Sunday paled in comparison to the cynicism of Australia in 2003.

Shame on you, Eddie. For the Australian coach who masterminded the underpowered Australia pack was none other than Eddie Jones. What Italy did on Sunday paled in comparison with the cynicism of Australia on November 22, 2003. Italy played within the letter of the law. There’s been a lot of waffle about “the spirit of the game” but 14 years ago, Australia’s scrum laid into the laws and savaged the spirit of the game. I don’t remember talk of him retiring rather than “be involved in contests that cease to be rugby”, as he said after the victory over Italy.
He may have been shocked by the Italian tactics of not being engaged in every ruck, but it is the failure of packs to engage in scrums that blights the sport most. A one-off shock tactic has been turned into a headline as England’s out-and-out winner of a coach deflects the attention from a third straight sub-par performance.

Barnes also had a pop at Danny Care after his comments about O’Shea.

Meanwhile, Conor O’Shea has gone, according to Danny Care who played under him at Harlequins, from being the most attacking man in rugby to the most negative. Well that’s called coaching, Danny, a matter of adaptability. You do what you have to do. That is why O’Shea’s Italy played as they did, that is how an inferior Australia almost stole the 2003 World Cup.

The former England outhalf also made it clear that if World Rugby decides to change the laws as a result of Jones’ actions, they might as well ‘change the name of the organisation from World to England Rugby.”

That should be the end of the matter but unfortunately Eddie’s frustration spilt over to the extent of him calling for World Rugby to act. Does the sport really believe that the governing body should throw the long-established ruck laws into the air and come up with a rewrite or re-adjustment because England were outsmarted by a team they expected to thrash? O’Shea was right to warn of potential knock-on effects that come with law changes.
Were World Rugby to give Jones what he says he wants, it would be catastrophic for the reputation of the governing body. You might as well change the name of the organisation from World to England Rugby.

You can read the brilliant piece by Barnes in full here. Some excellent points by the outspoken pundit.

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