However lacklustre England’s performance in defeat to Scotland last weekend, coach Eddie Jones deserves some credit for his reaction to it. In his post-match media duties the Australian was full of praise for the Calcutta Cup victors, while he refused to hide from the stark result.
On Sunday morning he joined the departing hordes of fans as he took the train from Edinburgh Waverley to Manchester alone, before heading to a lunch date with Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford. But while he posed for too many selfies to count, the actions of a few on board has left a sour taste.
“I’m a human being. I don’t consider myself any different from anyone else. For me to travel on public transport, I thought was OK.,” he said on Wednesday. “I try and do the right thing by the fans but if that [abuse] happens then you’ve got to have a look at your own safety.”
Jones says he dealt with an incident at Bath earlier in his tenure “pretty swiftly”, but the nature of the abuse, both verbal and physical, that he suffered on Sunday means he is unlikely to use public transport in the future. “It wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “I don’t want to make a big deal about it. It’s over and done with.”
He added: “When I came to England, I knew there were going to be challenges. As an Australian coaching England, there were always going to be challenges and that’s just one of them. We march on — we’ve got a game against France.”
The Australian encountered a warmer reception, and some haggis, when he made it to Old Trafford, where he watched United’s Premier League win over Chelsea alongside Ferguson. “It was fantastic to be able to sit next to him,” Jones said. “He’s been through similar games.
“We were able to chat about his experiences. There’s no shortcuts guys — we all wish there was.”
Despite an unparalleled period of success with United, Ferguson’s 26-year career at Old Trafford was not without incident, his relationship with the club’s fans not always rosy. Before delivering his first trophy in Manchester — the 1990 FA Cup — the Scot endured public calls for his head, while he had to weather a spell in the mid-2000s in which supporters questioned whether he might have lost his Midas touch.
“You want to meet people that know more than you know — and he knows more than I know,” Jones said.
“He mentioned a lot of matches where things went wrong and a lot of the times you don’t have a solution to it and that’s the reality. We all think we’re clever but we’re not so clever because our game’s an inexact science.
“It’s not about getting from there to there in this amount of time. We don’t have robots, we have human beings and on a day, things can happen to people and we don’t know why.
“If we knew, then everyone would have a hundred percent record and no one’s got a hundred percent record.”
Jones has until England’s trip to Paris on March 10 to find solutions to the issues that were highlighted in Edinburgh. The hard work has already started, despite adverse weather meaning that only 19 of the 27 players selected for the clash with France have been able to make it to the squad’s camp in Oxford this week.
“The message is quite simple: how are we going to fix it? What are we going to do to fix it?” Jones said. “We had a really good meeting [Tuesday], we’ve had a number of meetings with the coaches about what we are going to do.
“There’s no lack of attitude in our side. I’ve seen various commentaries about various things about the team, but any team that wins 24 in 26 games has got a bit of steel about them.”