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RFU chief denies Eddie Jones has too much power at Twickenham but says he did not like ‘rat poison’ comment

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Chief Executive Bill Sweeney has denied that Eddie Jones wields too much power at the RFU, but admitted he “didn’t like” some of the England Head Coach’s public pronouncements during the recent Six Nations. 

A “brutally honest” review into England’s disappointing campaign will take place next month, after which a decision will be made on Jones’s future. 

Sweeney acknowledged there was a “perception” that Jones is all-powerful at Twickenham – but denied it was true.

“I would say that is wrong,” said Sweeney. “I know some people feel that is the perception, but he doesn’t have power and influence within Twickenham. 

“He is the Head Coach, he selects the squad, picks the team and is judged on performances, like most coaches. He has his circle of confidence that he has relied on for some time and he is very transparent with us in terms of his thinking, plans, preparation.”

POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Sweeney said he had spoken to Jones about his peculiar rant about the media infecting his players with “rat poison” ahead of the defeat to Ireland at the weekend. Sweeney said the comments were an effort to keep his players focused after a fine victory over France. 

“Yeah, I didn’t like that, I don’t think anyone welcomes that,” Sweeney said. “Then unfortunately it got translated in terms of rat poison. That doesn’t really help the cause. And we have had a chat about it.”

Sweeney said the financial issues exacerbated by the pandemic that saw 119 RFU employees made redundant last year would not affect the union’s ability to make changes to England’s coaching structure if required. 

“No,” said Sweeney. “It is really important that the English men’s and women’s national teams consistently perform well and if there are financial implications in that, we’ll need to make sure that’s in the budget.”

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