Rugby Union

"If Jones ran the RFU he would sack himself".

Stuart Barnes reveals who he thinks could replace Eddie Jones as England coach

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Wales have emerged from the Six Nations Championship with a crop of world-class players while England are left to pick up the pieces.

This is the latest damning verdict on a disastrous European campaign for Eddie Jones' men to come from former England outside-half Stuart Barnes. 

Three home wins and two away defeats left Wales with a comfortable second-place finish and a points difference of 36.

A disjointed performance against France in the last fixture had raised some questions over Warren Gatland's side and their style of play. 

Despite this, many are calling the tournament one of progress for the Welsh side despite the ugly manner of their final victory.

Current pundit and newspaper columnist Stuart Barnes agrees, telling The Ruck podcast: "Wales had a lot of key players missing and they’ve changed their game radically.

“From playing narrow, kick-and-chase defensive play to playing with more width. I think a year from now Wales will have the capacity to either play wide or a driving game through the middle.

“They’ve developed a strength in depth in the back row that even New Zealand would be pleased with. I think Gatland would be very pleased with what’s happened in this Six Nations.”

In contrast to Wales, the former Bath outside-half says England are in an 'absolute mess'.

Harlequins v Gloucester - Guinness Premiership

Eddie Jones' men finished the tournament in a less than respectable fifth place, having suffered defeats at the hands of Scotland, France, and Ireland - the latter ending their unbeaten streak at Twickenham.

Barnes believes that there was no evidence of a team spirit and that the tournament will have set England back going into World Cup next year.

“What I saw when they won a Grand Slam, was a team where the collective was much better than the individual talent.

“We’ve come out of this tournament — [Owen] Farrell is borderline, Maro Itoje has gone backwards. You can argue the reasons, but the reality is that I can see far more Welsh players that are world class than England players.

England v Ireland - NatWest Six Nations

“To be positive now would be stupid. That’s not to say they can’t turn it around but right now the evidence is bad. Last season, they won the title but their performance levels were starting to dip. This season, their performance levels have continued to dip and they’re losing matches.

“The individuals aren’t coming through and the collective has fallen to pieces."

Writing for The Times, Barnes has gone on to suggest that if Jones ran the RFU, he would sack himself.

"Those who dismiss the very prospect of changing a manager 18 months from the World Cup will trot out the usual cliches, the most prominent being that there is no time to build a World Cup-winning team.

England Captain's Run

"But, it was time enough for Jones to put together a Grand Slam-winning side — primarily with players from the previous regime — and whitewash Australia away from home.

"Is there really only one Eddie Jones out there? Is there no one else with the ability to grasp this group of players and give them an edge as the Australian did with Stuart Lancaster’s men?

Discussing replacements should Eddie Jones vacate his post, Barnes writes: "The obvious name to spring to mind is Rob Baxter, of Exeter Chiefs, but perhaps a better bet would be Glasgow Warriors’ David Rennie.

"Formerly of the Chiefs, he has an outstanding record of success and an ability to quickly bring the best from players, something that England need.

"An outside bet to pull together a successful short-term team is Dean Richards, of Newcastle Falcons."

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Topics:
Rugby Union
Aviva Premiership
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
IRB Rugby World Cup
Exeter Chiefs

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