The Roar
The Roar


"That's not rugby": Jones fumes at Italy's tactics after Six Nations win

Eddie Jones and England can spoil Ireland's Six Nations (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)
26th February, 2017
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England coach Eddie Jones launched an extraordinary attack on Italy’s innovative breakdown tactics in Sunday’s Six Nations clash, saying “that’s not rugby” and that the fans should get their money back.

England won 36-15 to stay on course for back-to-back grand slams but the victory, which needed a late surge of tries to put a gloss on the result, was almost forgotten in the immediate aftermath as the opposing coaches took markedly different views of Italy’s tactic of not putting any players into a ruck.

That allowed their players to legally drift behind the tackle area and obstruct the England scrumhalf without being offside.

England required a long time to get to grips with the situation, with French referee Romain Poite at one stage telling them: “I’m the referee, not the coach, you have to find a solution,” after flanker James Haskell asked for clarification.

The situation became even more bizarre when England briefly adopted the same approach at the breakdown in the second half.

Jones, however, did not see it as a clever variation, comparing the tactics to Australian Trevor Chappell’s infamous underarm delivery to prevent the batsman hitting a boundary with the last ball of a one-day cricket international against New Zealand in 1981.

“That wasn’t rugby today, if that’s rugby I’m going to retire, I don’t want to be involved in that,” said the Australian.

“If your halfback can’t pass the ball, there’s something wrong with the game. If the 10 can’t see the ball, how do you play rugby?

“We lost the ruck from the game and it ceases to become rugby so if you paid for your ticket, ask for your money back.


“I can’t answer questions on rugby because there wasn’t any today.

“We probably got flustered a bit by their tactics, which is normal,” added Jones, who got very agitated when it was suggested his team should have been quicker in reacting to the tactic.

“Yeah, good question, I got it wrong, I’m just a silly coach,” he said, before reminding the audience that his team remained on course for the title after their third win.

England lock Joe Launchbury was named man of the match but Jones said Italy scrumhalf Edoardo Govi should have got the honours for his role in Italy’s obstructing tactics. “He was outstanding, every time we tried to pass the ball he was there,” said Jones.

Unsurprisingly, Italy coach Conor O’Shea had a different take on the day’s main talking point, saying that his team had merely found a way to use the sport’s labyrinthine laws to their advantage, having cleared the tactic with referee Poite before the game.

“What do people want us to do? Be normal, lay down and get beaten? We can’t be normal, we have to be Italy,” said the Irishman who took over last year.

“It’s nothing new but when Australia or Toulouse did it, it was fantastic but when Italy do it, it’s wrong. We did not come here to roll over.

“It’s about time Italy got some respect,” he added.


“You are going to see us do things differently. You saw it today – we’ve had enough, we are going to fight.”