Jones defends England after Barbarians defeat ahead of Australia tour

ddie Jones 26/2/2022
Eddie Jones defended his England side after a 52-21 loss to the Barbarians and suggested he may replicate the tactics used at Twickenham for the tour of Australia.

Eddie Jones defended his England side after a 52-21 loss to the Barbarians and suggested he may replicate the tactics used at Twickenham for the tour of Australia.

The Red Rose looked to match their opponents for flair and free-flowing rugby in a departure from Jones’ customary structured game plan but conceded eight tries as France’s 2022 Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam-winning winger Damian Penaud crossed for a double.

Post-match, Jones said he had no regrets over his approach and hinted that England will look to play just as much running rugby in the future, starting with the three-match tour against the Wallabies.

“We wanted to extend ourselves today,” he explained.

“I don’t know what the score would have been if we played a normal England game, but that’s not what we wanted.

“This was preparation for Australia, not preparation for how to win a game against the Barbarians. We tried to play differently and in some places we didn’t cope well with it.”

England suffered their worst ever defeat to the Barbarians, despite the dismissal of Australian second-row Will Skelton in the 37th minute for a shoulder to the head of Patrick Schickerling.

The likes of Jonny May, Jonny Hill and Joe Cokanasiga were given run-outs after long spells out injured, while Tommy Freeman impressed at full-back on his first start.

“Nobody’s happy about it [the result] but there’s a contextual situation here,” said Jones.

“We’re trying to build a new team, try and play in a different way. We’re trying to build a style of play that suits the players.

“We’ve got a style of play we want to keep developing and we’ll pick and choose when we use it.”


Jones dismissed claims that the manner of defeat was embarrassing, with former England lock George Kruis completing a hat-trick of conversions, including a cheeky back-heel attempt.

“It’s a festival game, it’s supposed to be fun for the crowd,” he added.

“Now we don’t like to get beat by 50, don’t get me wrong, but they were there to have fun, we’ve seen that before with BaaBaas teams and it’s about the spirit of rugby.”

Jones highlighted the breakdown as an area where England particularly struggled.

Charles Ollivon, who captained France in the 2021 Championship, shone for the Barbarians, and England skipper Tom Curry believes they will benefit from having faced such experienced internationals.

“It’s brilliant learning for us as a team,” he said.

“We know that moving forward, international rugby is like that and it’s a step up.

“We need to get our levels up and push forward but that’s the exciting part, we can take it to a different level.”

Curry is of the more experienced names heading to Australia and said he does not feel any pressure to help lead his country against a side they have dominated in recent times.

England won all three fixtures on their last tour to Australia in 2016 and have not lost to the Wallabies since Jones took over following the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Asked if he feels burdened by England’s recent record against Australia, Curry said: “No, but that’s where we step up as a group.

“It doesn’t fall on one person. You see the leaders that are coming through, not just by voice but by action, and they become proper experts of their areas and that’s where we step up and all take part.”