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EDDIE JONES will remain as head coach after the Rugby Football Union’s (RFU) inquest into England’s worst-ever Six Nations performance gave full backing to the embattled Australian.
Jones presided over a fifth-place finish for the second time in his five-and-a-half-year Twickenham reign, plunging his future into doubt and triggering a debrief into why the World Cup runners-up had underperformed in such alarming fashion.
A statement released by the RFU confirmed “full support” for Jones, while “recognising a sub-optimal campaign and the factors that contributed to it.”
A review panel consisting of board members, executives and independent experts used feedback from players and coaches to help pinpoint a number of specific reasons explaining a dismal tournament that was bookended by heavy defeats to Scotland and Ireland.
The absence of Australian back-room staff Jason Ryles and Neil Craig for pandemic-related travel reasons is described as a “significant loss” that had a wider impact, as was Matt Proudfoot’s pre-Six Nations unavailability after catching coronavirus and the domino effect on Jones being forced to self-isolate.
Also cited is the inactivity of the team’s Saracens spine following their relegation from the Premiership, but at the same time a “wider group were fatigued as a result of being the only country to have back-to-back seasons.”
A handful of absentees also contributed to England’s woes, a reference to the injuries sustained by Manu Tuilagi, Sam Underhill and Joe Launchbury.
Completing the list of reasons for collapsing to the first “reverse Triple Crown” of losses to Scotland, Wales and Ireland since 1976 are breakdown in discipline, the stringent Covid protocols in place in camp that had an impact on cohesion and the fixed squad number of 28 players.
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