Eddie Jones reminds England players of responsibilities around Covid-19 protocols

Daniel Schofield
·3-min read
England head coach Eddie Jones plays with a frisbee during the training session at The Lensbury Hotel - PA
England head coach Eddie Jones plays with a frisbee during the training session at The Lensbury Hotel - PA

England head coach Eddie Jones has issued a stern reminder to his players of their responsibilities around Covid-19 protocols after naming a 36-man squad for the autumn internationals.

Exeter Chiefs double-winning captain Joe Simmonds and his brother Sam Simmonds, the European Player of the Season, were the highest profile omissions from a squad that contains nine uncapped players, including Wasps’ flanker Jack Willis.

Fly half George Ford misses out through an achilles injury which entail an overhaul of the midfield for a potential Six Nations title decider against Italy on Saturday. England’s preparations for the trip to Rome were hampered when their match against the Barbarians on Sunday was cancelled after several Barbarians, including former England captain Chris Robshaw, went on nights out.

Sean Maitland became the first Barbarians player to face consequences of those actions when he was dropped from Scotland’s squad.

England will also be placed in a Covid bubble at the Lensbury Club in South West London. Yet despite the Barbarians’ salutary lesson Jones cannot promise that England’s players will not also slip up.

“These things happen, we’ve seen it in every team so far, we've seen it in the football team, the cricket team, I’m sure it’s happened in horse racing, snooker, darts… these things happen,” Jones told Sky Sports. “I can’t sit here and tell you 100 per cent we’re going to be perfect. But our intention is to be.

“We’ve spoken about it briefly, one of the things I learned about being a school principal is not to talk about the rules too much because then you have to worry about enforcing all the rules. We’ve told the players they’ve got to be responsible, they’ve got a responsibility to their team-mate, to their family, a responsibility to English rugby and they all understand that right at this moment. And then there could be a moment when they don’t understand it.”

On the omission of the Simmonds brothers, Jones said: “I’ve spoken to both of those boys to make sure they have an understanding of the situation. At the end of the day it’s my judgement call, with the coaches.”

Rugby Nerd REFERRAL (article)
Rugby Nerd REFERRAL (article)

With nine players out injured including Ford and centre Manu Tuilagi, several uncapped youngsters stand to come into the reckoning, notably Wasps fly half Jacob Umaga and Worcester centre Ollie Lawrence. Jones was particularly impressed with the performance of Umaga, who was chosen ahead of Joe Simmonds, in the Premiership final.

“I like the way he attacks the line and reads the game well,” Jones said. “You need a 10, a player who’s very instinctive; you can’t coach them to do it, they just do it.”

However Jones hinted that he is prepared to abandon his commitment to the twin playmaker system that he has employed for much of his reign.

“We were having a selection debate about the need for a passing 12,” Jones said. “The notion that 12 passes to 13 is rarely seen. Basically centres now, particularly with rush defences, are running backs.”

England Rugby Insider - In Article
England Rugby Insider - In Article