English RFU backs Jones after 5th place again in Six Nations

LONDON - Coach Eddie Jones retained the full support of his employers on Tuesday after a review of England’s fifth-place finish in the defence of its Six Nations title.

Just three months after winning the delayed 2020 championship, England lost to Scotland at Twickenham for the first time in 38 years, conceded 40 points for the first time to Wales in another defeat, and fell to Ireland. England beat only France and Italy at home.

A review gathered input from Jones, the players, past and present coaches and staff, English Rugby Football Union board members and executives, and independent experts. The RFU decided to give “its full support and backing of Eddie Jones as head coach, while recognizing a sub-optimal campaign and the factors that contributed to it.”

Those factors included the lack of game time for some players, notably the high-profile Saracens contingent including captain Owen Farrell, who hadn’t played since early December.

Another was indiscipline at the breakdown, and coronavirus restrictions, which forced the absence of skills coach Jason Ryles and high performance manager Neil Craig, and a fixed squad which prevented new players being brought into the bubble.

“Eddie approached this review with a great deal of self-awareness and humility, allowing us to look at every aspect of the tournament to identify every small change we can make in order to improve,” RFU CEO Bill Sweeney said in a statement.

Recommendations to be implemented before July tests against the United States and Canada -- possibly in England -- include enhanced sports psychology, more refereeing input, streamlining analytics with the Premiership clubs to monitor and develop new talent, and more input from external rugby experts after each campaign.
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