Eddie Jones has defended his coaching methods and the high turnover of backstage staff in response to criticism of his England diet.
An article in The Times last week, drawing on testimonials from players and staff past and present, often anonymous, painted a picture of a tense and demanding environment that lacks fun.
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Jones has just completed rebuilding his coaching staff for the third time with John Mitchell his No.2, the most recent departure after the former All Blacks boss left for Wasps rather than continuing to oversee the defense.
Mitchell’s exit is the latest example of the staff turnover that has persisted since Jones took over in late 2015 with assistant coaches, physios, doctors, analysts and psychologists leaving at an alarming rate.
And while England crashed out to their worst Six Nations performance earlier this year by finishing fifth, their head coach remains defiant about his managerial style.
“These things happen. Everyone has an opinion on how you operate. I can’t say it’s right or wrong, I try to be a reasonable person,” Jones told BT Sport.
“I’ve been a coach for a good period of time and there have probably been times when I haven’t been as nice as I would like. But I strive to be fair all the time and I’m excited where this team is going to go.
“The only thing you can do is respond and the only way we will respond is to play good rugby, so that’s what we intend to do.”
‘Brutal’ was one of the words used to describe the way Jones treats his staff, but the 61-year-old said: “I think the fact that I was a coach during that time would indicate that it’s not not the truth..
“Has there been a high staff turnover? There has been turnover in some areas where we have sought to refresh staff.
“This is my sixth year in this position and you expect that from your support staff. I think we have a very good staff here and we appreciate their hard work.”
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Jones bristled when asked if he considered himself “old school”.
“No, I wouldn’t. At all. And I don’t even know what that means. Some of the best old school coaches are the best coaches,” Jones said.
England have chosen an inexperienced squad missing several of their old guards such as Billy and Mako Vunipola and George Ford as Jones looks to form a new squad in the Autumn Nations Series against Tonga, Australia and Australia. ‘South Africa.
Marcus Smith is seen as the player to chart a new direction and for the first time Jones has confirmed the 22-year-old will start at fly-half, with captain Owen Farrell set up at inside centre.