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How UK media reacted to Eddie Jones’ team’s loss to Barbarians ahead of Australia games


England coach Eddie Jones will face the British media on Monday night when he names the squad to tour Australia, and he’s sure to face more prickly questioning after a humbling farewell defeat to the Barbarians.

The invitational side, coached by France’s Fabien Galthie, were down to 14 men in the first half as Aussie Will Skelton received a red card, yet took apart Jones’ inexperienced team 52-21.

Jones, of course, played down the significance of the result, leaning heavily into the option that it was a meaningless exhibition.

But with injuries to Alex Dombrandt and George Ford casting a pall over proceedings, the English media wasn’t sharing Jones’ relaxed view of the one-sided clash.

“Chastening, humbling, humiliating. Pick your adjective. England’s defeat by the Barbarians, who played with 14 men for just over 50 minutes and yet still passed a half-century of points, was jarring stuff,” wrote Charlie Morgan in the UK Telegraph.

Jones dismissed the notion that the BaaBaas game would have a bearing on the Down Under tour, and his team was without stars from Leicester or Saracens who were involved in the Premiership final.

England's Director of Rugby Eddie Jones during the International match between England and Barbarians at Twickenham Stadium on June 19, 2022 in London, England. (Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

(Photo by Bob Bradford – CameraSport via Getty Images)

But, wrote Morgan, “Australia should feel confident of exacting revenge for their 2016 whitewash defeat. “

He argued there were three main areas of concern for England – an over-reliance on Marcus Smith in attack, a lack of muscle across the team and set piece woes.

“England’s attack desperately needs more dimensions, greater dynamism and sharper accuracy because Dave Rennie’s Wallabies will squeeze them in the kicking exchanges, with wily Brumbies scrum-half Nic White to the fore, and go after the breakdown,” Morgan wrote.

.Morgan’s Telegraph colleague Daniel Schofield said a cheeky backheeled conversion from the Baa Baas’ retiring Englishman George Kruis, at a time when England were already “deep within humiliation territory” must have had Jones squirming in his seat in the midst of his heaviest defeat as England head coach.

“Kruis has been a magnificent servant to English rugby and fully deserved this type of send-off in his final match, but for an England team of any description to have the mickey taken out of them like this is close to unacceptable,” he added.

Jones bristled at questions about the result afterwards and said it was “great preparation” for the tour.

“I can’t sway fans, all I can do is coach the team,” he said.

“I’m not pleased with how we performed. I’m pleased with the intent of what we tried to do and it’s great preparation for Australia, but I’m obviously not happy with the result. We’re not going to Australia to get beaten by 50 and run the ball from our own 22, but we have a style of play we want to keep developing and we’ll pick and choose when we use it.

“We’ve got a number of good young players coming through, there’s potential for the team to get better. We used today for a particular purpose.

“It’s a festival game. It’s supposed to be fun for the crowd. We had 55,000 here. Now we don’t like to get beaten by 50, don’t get me wrong, but they were here to have fun. We’ve seen that before with Barbarians teams. I think it’s great, the spirit of rugby. I love it.”

Will Kelleher, writing in The Times, made mention of the work of Aussie former NRL coach Anthony Seibold, who is Jones’ defence coach.

“If Anthony Seibold’s England defence was leaky, Martin Gleeson’s attack was perhaps even worse, with countless opportunities wasted. Marcus Smith also missed all his conversion attempts … England were miles off the pace,” he wrote.

“On Friday, Jones made it clear that this is not an England team, but an “England XV” — but no matter what billing they are given, those in red were desperately poor throughout.”

Gerard Meagher, writing in the Guardian, said: “For all the players absent, for all the excuses that could be made, this was without question a chastening afternoon for Jones, the biggest margin of defeat under his tenure and a humiliating one for England that raises huge concerns over the forthcoming tour of Australia.”

England were, he said, “woeful. They simply could not get going in attack, were lacklustre in defence and their set piece needs plenty of work.

“It was, in short, a disastrous day for Jones and perhaps the most worrying aspect is how they capitulated in the closing stages, conceding four tries in the final 15 minutes.

“It was not a fixture granted Test status but this defeat comes on the back of Six Nations defeats by Ireland and France and makes a three‑Test series against the improving Wallabies all the more ominous.

“Jones names his squad for the tour of Australia on Monday morning and all that could be said of this showing on Sunday is that a number of this side may have played their way off the plane.”

 





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