LONDON – England coach Eddie Jones has reacted to the outcry over his comments about Ireland flyhalf Johnny Sexton’s welfare by placing a self-imposed media blackout ahead of his side’s virtual title decider against Wales in the Six Nations.
“I’m putting a media ban on myself,” said Jones, one of the most garrulous rugby coaches around. “I don’t want to do any scaremongering or do anything that offends the media or offends people’s parents.”
In the run-up to the game against Ireland on Saturday, which England won 21-10, Jones said Sexton’s parents “would be worried” about the whiplash injury the player sustained in a previous match. Sexton also has a history of suffering concussions.
The remarks have been criticized by many as pre-match gamesmanship going too far. British media reported that the Irish camp were unhappy with them.
Jones said he won’t be seen or heard in front of the media until the day before the Wales game, the winner of which will likely win the title.
“If I don’t say anything, you come away from the press conference and say it’s boring,” Jones said. “If I say something, I’m scaremongering. I can’t win, so the easiest way is that I don’t come to the media conference.”
The outspoken Jones has made a big impact since taking over as England coach — and not just because of his spiky performances in news conferences.
Humiliated by a pool-stage exit at a home Rugby World Cup last year, England has won all three games under Jones and is on course for its first Six Nations title since 2011 and a first Grand Slam since 2003.