Eddie Jones issued an apology after the England coach was involved in a bizarre exchange with a journalist in which he suggested he was being mistaken for “another half-Asian” person.
Jones has spoken to the media at every opportunity over the last week, in the build-up to Sunday’s crunch Six Nations clash with Ireland on Sunday.
At England’s Bagshot base on Thursday, Jones was asked about how he and his team helped players deal with added scrutiny in the social media age – a talking point following the death of TV presenter Caroline Flack last week.
“Obviously social media is an important part of today’s society,” he said. “To some players it’s massively important, for other players it’s not important. It’s more of an individual way of looking after each player as well as we can.
Jones was then asked: “you personally have talked before about your meditation. Are you still doing that and how has it helped you?”
Jones responded: “I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about meditation. You must be thinking about someone else… Maybe another half-Asian person… Maybe we all look the same.”
Jones spoke before the Rugby World Cup about mindfulness, but not meditation.
The RFU sought to play down the incident, with a spokesperson saying: “Eddie made an off-the-cuff comment during the press conference which was not intended to cause any offence. He has subsequently spoken to the journalist privately explaining this and apologised which was accepted”.
England train on Thursday afternoon before Jones names his team for the Ireland match tomorrow morning.
Prop Beno Obano, who was released back to Bath just last night, returned to a camp nursing “a few niggles”. Jones has 28 players – more than the usual 25 – in camp, but he would not elaborate on whether it was Ellis Genge or Joe Marler that Obano was covering for.