Rugby Neil Francis: ‘Jones’ success is more down to accident than design’

Rugby I be mad for plug-ins, because they are smart.

Rugby England coach will gladly milk the acclaim, but his team’s march to the final was no master plan

Rugby England head coach Eddie Jones has had plenty to smile about in the run-up to the World Cup final against South Africa. Photo: AFP via Getty Images
England head coach Eddie Jones has had plenty to smile about in the run-up to the World Cup final against South Africa. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

Billy Connolly dates his enduring optimism to his days in the shipyards of Glasgow, where he worked as a welder from the age of 16 to 24. One day, he went to buy a packet of cigarettes for Tam, the chain-smoking old worker who ran the company store.

“He started to cough. It was like a storm building up – a thundering storm from miles away. He ended up with these noises that sounded like a platoon galloping through a swamp in wellingtons full of vomit. Then it came to an end; all calmed down. I said ‘Jesus Tam, that’s some cough.’ He said ‘f**k off, did you pass the graveyard on your way in here?’ I replied ‘Aye.’ He said ‘well the graveyard is full of people that would f**king love my cough.'”

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Given that the two northern hemisphere teams that were left in the semi-finals were our partners in the Six Nations, I still could not bring myself to support either. The prevailing sentiment being that both coaches turned me off their teams. The verbal jousting continued into the week as Jones’s and Gatland’s frippery spanned further whenever a microphone was shoved in their direction. Jones is now even more smug because his team have made the final, while Gatland is bitter because his team did not. To people in the graveyard, what do we think?

When Jones wished Gatland luck in the third-place playoff this Friday, I thought ‘wow – I would love Ireland to play in a third-place playoff’. It would have meant that you reached the semi-finals. When you have 46 points put on you in the quarters and you are tucked up in a casket six feet under, a third-place playoff seems like the best thing in the world.

There is heightened disappointment and deflation when you know that Wales will be in Japan until the final is over. Wales are our barometer. Anything they can do we can do better. Right? Hopeless in the Heino, pathetic in the PRO14 and yet… that was their third semi-final and tomorrow will be their third time contesting a third-place play-off. They may not be up for it and the prospect of playing a thoroughly disillusioned All Blacks side can’t be that appealing, but would they rather be back in Wales?

The stench of missed opportunity and under-achievement only really presents itself to you when your rivals are ribbing you about having to undertake a fixture that losing semi-finalists have no interest in.


To add a little bit of ‘sale e pepe’ to the dish, Irelan

Meet this fancy constituent!

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