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Is Eddie Jones’ England boring rugby hurting the code?

You can always trust Eddie Jones to bring some chat. Pre game, staged antics at press conferences that would make ranting political leaders proud – as does his jibing that hits right where it hurts.

Jones was at his best again after the Wallabies loss on Saturday, eloquently describing how much he loved seeing the disappointment of drunken Wallabies fans who had been growling for victory at Suncorp Stadium.

Not to pull up stumps, the grand old master is at it again this week, asking why the Wallabies and their fans haven’t done their own fair share of gee-ups this series against England. Jones said the Wallabies have been invisible and aren’t doing enough to promote the game in its battle against the NRL.

England coach Eddie Jones arrives for an England squad training session at Coogee Oval on July 12, 2022 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Evans - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England coach Eddie Jones  (Photo by Mark Evans – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

I’ve got news for Eddie, and he says he reads the news every morning, so hopefully he reads this submission from a bona fide rugby fan: your team are dull, rugby has become torture, and your team are the symbolic reflection of everything that’s wrong with it.

This is the case from the RFU oafs who hold up progress and get elected to World Rugby, to your players, and right down to you. If you win on Saturday, good for you, but you just aren’t capturing my attention or imagination, and it shouldn’t really be a surprise.

There’s plenty of evidence to suggest the sporting public of Australia agrees with me, too. The first two Tests against England didn’t sell out and rated pretty averagely on television.

They were appalling contests filled with stoppages, contentious and technical rules, and generally just a frustrating experience to watch.

Jordan Petaia of the Wallabies attempts to break the tackle from Danny Care of England during game one of the international test match series between the Australian Wallabies and England at Optus Stadium on July 02, 2022 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Jordan Petaia of the Wallabies (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Then there’s England. Guy Porter, centre debutant, didn’t even touch the ball until midway through the second half last week.

I went to both the Wallabies game on Saturday night and Origin on Wednesday, and the stats painted a frankly damning, embarrassing juxtaposition against the rugby match that should be immediately addressed (but will be ignored by the ignoramuses like Bill Beaumont that run the game).

The stats are damning – 26 penalties against six in State of Origin, six tries versus 3, 55 minutes of ball in play time versus 30 odd.

On every single statistic, the State of Origin finale put rugby to shame. Add in a cocktail of contentious decisions from antiquity era laws (why should knocking the ball down even be a penalty at all?), as well as constant stoppages, random TMO interventions, and it made the whole thing a frustrating drag.

As a long time partisan rugby supporter, the type that defends the code when League fans are savaging it, it hurts to say, but the rugby just wasn’t even on the same planet.

At one point, I turned around and asked an English fan if “good old boy Tories” actually show up to Twickenham and pay 300 quid to watch this kind of drab, even if England are winning. I thought it was a valid question. Who would show up and watch the style of play that England have, even as a supporter?

Let alone pay 300 pounds for it? Why? What was entertaining about it? That’s a genuine question. I don’t know why you’d find it entertaining to watch this team play. To me it just seems like a plain old waste of an afternoon.

So, we come to Eddie Jones. He comes out and has press conferences that are frankly more entertaining than his own team. I’ve watched the press conference, it was decent entertainment.

Eddie’s turn of phrase is fantastic – highly skilled, like a great set piece that sucks journalists in looking for a big hit. Then, he sidesteps the question brilliantly, turns it around for an intercept at the other end. Fantastic. Too bad his team just completely blows to watch.

But it gets worse. See, Eddie’s complaining is not only nonsense, it’s also complete hypocrisy. This is the same Eddie Jones, for example, that was a key figure on the committee that vetoed 20 minute red cards – the same red cards which have ruined countless matches for the rugby public and caused endless controversies.

Eddie, given the chance to jump off his bully pulpit for five seconds and make meaningful reforms, bottled it.

Little wonder then, that people aren’t interested. At every opportunity to reform, rugby seems intent on taking a backward step.

The frustration, tortured into heartland fans like myself for years, can only be taken for so long. Maybe Eddie should think about where he’s taking the game on the rules committee.

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