Eddie Jones has claimed he is subjected to verbal abuse by members of the public on a daily basis and says it comes with the territory of being the England coach.
Jones returns to Murrayfield on Saturday for the first time since a group of Scotland fans hurled abuse at him outside a Manchester train station the day after England’s Calcutta Cup defeat in 2018.
He was repeatedly sworn at during the incident, while throughout the match 24 hours earlier he was subjected to taunts from Scotland supporters. He was also vociferously booed during last Sunday’s defeat by France, having repeatedly promised to unleash “absolute brutality” on England’s opponents.
Two years ago Jones had travelled alone from Edinburgh to Manchester to attend a Premier League football match at Old Trafford when he was confronted, prompting him to say he would never use British public transport again. on Thursday Jones confirmed he is flying to and from Edinburgh with the rest of the squad this time.
Dismissing the 2018 incident, which resulted in the three men being fined, as “tiny”, Jones said he comes in for similar treatment every day. “It wasn’t of any significance at all,” he said. “That happens every day. What do you reckon happens when I walk down the street? Some people say nice things, some people are into you. It happens every day. If you didn’t want it, you don’t do this job.”
Of his travel plans he added: “I am not going to any football games. I am going directly home. I will be coming back with the team.”
Jones is likely to receive a hostile reception at Murrayfield, having described Scotland as a “niggly team” who look to goad their opponents. Jones is more concerned with getting England’s Six Nations campaign back on track after the 24-17 defeat by France. The coach believes England can still “100%” win the Six Nations and has pledged to take on Scotland up front after making sweeping changes to his team.
Ben Youngs, Joe Marler and Courtney Lawes have been dropped with Willi Heinz, Mako Vunipola, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam and Jonathan Joseph coming in. He has also named six forwards on the bench as a show of intent and it is understood he would have made six changes to his starting XV with Luke Cowan-Dickie pencilled in to start until the hooker withdrew on Friday morning after his partner went into labour.
“We’ve got an obvious plan that we want to play against them,” he added. “We’re not hiding from the fact that we want to take them on up front. We just think it’s going to be a high-volume, high-intensity game in the forwards. I just think our strengths are up front and that’s what we want to play to.”
Jones has blamed his side’s slow start in Paris – England were 17-0 down at half-time and conceded another seven unanswered points until Jonny May restored respectability with two fine individual tries – on his decision to ease his players into camp owing to their club workloads following the World Cup. As a result Jones believes England will finish the tournament strongly with consecutive home matches against Ireland and Wales and an away trip to Italy following Saturday’s match.
“I think I under-prepared the team, so it took us some time to get into the game,” he said. “There is a reason for that given the workload of the players. We under-prepared and I take full responsibility. But there’s a reason for that and my view is that we’ll see the reason at the end of the competition – that we’ll be full of running.” To that end the losing bonus point in Paris may prove pivotal. “Every point is important in a competition when there’s bonus points,” Jones added.
Owen Farrell echoed Jones’s sentiments and expects a significant step-up in performance. “We’ll believe that [we can win the tournament] until it’s not possible,” the England captain said. “Training has stepped up this week. We have had a good look at ourselves, we have seen what we can do and we have stepped up. You do tend to have a bit more of a look at yourself after a loss. It allows you to be a bit more open. We have said where we want to improve and I would expect us to not just talk about it but do it.”
The Six Nations organisers have confirmed they are in dialogue with the unions and “monitoring the situation” regarding Storm Ciara. The Met Office has issued a blanket yellow wind warning across the UK with gusts of up to 50mph expected in Edinburgh.