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Rugby news | Joe Simpson recounts ‘bizarre’ Eddie Jones apology turned nasty

Eddie Jones’ reign as England coach is over and it’s unlikely he’ll ever return.

In the wake of his axing by the Rugby Football Union, it became clear that those at head office were motivated to have him removed, rather than the players.

Incumbent captain Owen Farrell spoke of the disappointment in Jones’ sacking, indicating that the squad had relished his time at the top.

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It’s no secret that Jones can be prickly with his players and staff and it appears that was the case during his stint with England, with one bizarre story from a former player surfacing in the wake of Jones’ axing.

Appearing on Rugby Pass’ Offload podcast, Joe Simpson told the story of an incident in which Jones fooled a member of the coaching staff into thinking he was making amends after giving him a spray.

Simpson, who recently announced his retirement from professional rugby, made one start for England in the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

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The veteran of nearly 250 appearances for the Wasps wasn’t coached by Jones but recalls an incident in which one of the polarising Australian’s offsiders was berated.

Simpson recounted, “He’s given a coach an absolute rollicking in a meeting before, earlier in the day.

“[Jones] calls him up later on and is like, ‘Look, I want to apologise to you, the way I spoke to you, blah blah blah, in front of everyone in front of the coaches meeting’. He [the coach] was like, ‘fair enough’.

“[Jones said] ‘I bought you a steak. You take it home and you eat it with your missus, you enjoy yourself’ – just an apology. 

“The bloke goes home and says to his wife, ‘That was bizarre, he’s given me a steak’. So they get it out and there’s just a pack of sausages in there. 

“He thinks that’s weird and gets a text from [Jones] later being like, ‘You’re not ready for steak, you’re a sausage. Up your game’.

“He’s like, ‘How do I carry on this job if I’m getting abused by my boss?’ But if you look at the turnover he’s had in coaches, if coaches want to get out of their contract they can go to HR and say, ‘These are all the emails and text messages that I’ve got from Eddie, I want to get out of this contract immediately, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, OK. We’ll keep it hush, you can leave slightly earlier if you want’.”

It’s not the first time Jones’ approach has been criticised.

New Zealand-born Japanese international Luke Thompson spoke after Jones’ exit from the England rostrum – echoing Simpon’s sentiment.

The now-retired player said a “dichotomy of personalities” was to blame for the separation between Jones and England.

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“He’s a genius when it comes to rugby in terms of his ability to squeeze every bit of potential out of what he has,” Thompson told the Associated Press.

“But the way he runs things I don’t believe is sustainable. 

“That seven-year period he has had with England, sometimes that can be too long. A four-year stint with him was probably enough for Japan.”

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Simpson said Jones’ hard-nosed coaching style left many bemused and emotionally damaged.

“He just abuses anyone who works for him,” Simpson added.

“Even security guards are just shadows of their former selves after coming into contact with him. 

“People come back absolutely shells of their former selves. They’re so relieved to be home and they can get into their bed and sleep properly. 

“Players go away and have broken sleep for six to eight weeks of Six Nations. They can’t sleep properly because of anxiety that he causes. It’s absolutely berserk.” 

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Jones will coach the Barbarians in a one-off match in May, 2023. Outside of that, Jones’ future in international rugby remains up in the air. 

Australia has sounded out the veteran for a role leading into the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

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