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Although the Spring Tours might have come to an end, there is still plenty to talk about from the world of rugby this week.
Coach Eddie Jones has been forced to self-isolate after his assistant Matt Proudfoot tested positive for COVID-19 as England’s Six Nations Championship defence suffered further disruption.
It is the second time in three days that England’s key Australian personnel have been affected by coronavirus after Jones’s compatriot and skills coach Jason Ryles announced on Monday that he wouldn’t be available for the championships.
Proudfoot was diagnosed with coronavirus following Monday’s testing and, as part of contact tracing protocols, Jones and his attack coach Simon Amor have to quarantine for 10 days.
If the next test reveals the outbreak is limited to Proudfoot, who is not displaying any symptoms, Jones will join up with the squad at St George’s Park next Thursday.
Ryles, whose work has been praised by Jones and England’s players since he joined them after helping the Melbourne Storm to glory in the NRL, has chosen not to travel from Australia to London with his family due to the lockdown in place in the UK.
To plug the gap left by his absence, Jones has appointed Ed Robinson, son of the former England and Scotland coach Andy Robinson, to oversee skills training for the duration of the Six Nations.
“Ed is a talented young coach and will work to help the players improve. We understand and support Jason’s decision and are expecting that he will be back with us this summer,” Jones said.
The head coach will name his 28-man party for the Six Nations on Friday as scheduled and his management team are continuing to work virtually, with the opener against Scotland on February 6 looming on the horizon.
Of Jones’ front-line staff, only defence coach, New Zealander John Mitchell, is not currently affected by COVID-19.
Unless the outbreak spreads, England should face minimal complications ahead of the Calcutta Cup showdown at Twickenham due to the timing of Proudfoot’s positive test.
Six Nations organisers are confident the tournament will take place as scheduled, despite misgivings from the French government over the prospect of France travelling to Dublin and London for away matches.
This latest development could enhance their fears at a time when rugby in England is going through a two-week break due to the cancellation of the final two two rounds of European group action.