England head coach Eddie Jones has been accused of disrespecting English rugby by openly talking about potential coaching gigs in recent weeks.

Jones’ contract with the RFU will end after the Rugby World Cup in France next year and it’s unsurprisingly led to the Australian being linked with a number of top clubs and unions.

Jones alluded to the Racing 92 speculation at a press conference this week, suggesting that some form of communication had happened between the sides.

RugbyPass Offload Ep 34 – John Cooney – Broncos, Brad Thorn & Marcell Coetzee
RugbyPass Offload Ep 34 – John Cooney – Broncos, Brad Thorn & Marcell Coetzee

“Maybe there has been a telephone conversation,” said Jones. “Sometimes I don’t handle those things, other people handle it for you. I’m a rugby coach and I love coaching, and I still feel like I have plenty to contribute.”

Racing rumours aside, Jones hasn’t been shy in moonlighting at other rugby clubs in his England off time. In April Jones resumed his controversial role with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath just over two weeks after England collapsed to another disappointing Six Nations.

The RFU stated that it is comfortable with the work he does in Japan, even though it means its head coach is working with top players from rival countries. In 2021 he gave advice to New All Blacks star Beauden Barrett and in April he was coaching players including New Zealand’s Damian McKenzie and Wallabies midfielder Samu Kerevi.

Yet all of Jones’ non-England intrigue have rubbed former England utility back Austin Healey up the wrong way, with the ‘Leicester Lip’ branding it as behaviour that suggests the 62-year-old is “taking the post for granted and disrespecting it.”

“One of the main things that annoyed me about playing for England was that Clive Woodward had a term for some people, ‘energy sappers’, someone who wasn’t fully focused, drawing energy from others,” Healey wrote for the Telegraph. “He would call me in and tell me to stop doing so much commercial work, that it was affecting my game – no more book deals, adverts. Then a few weeks later you would see Clive’s next book come out and think ‘hang on, we’re either all in this together or we’re not’.

“With Eddie, people know that he’s obsessed with coaching, but everyone wants to see that focus with England. Maybe don’t go over to Japan, or talk about joining Racing 92, or release another book or speak at dinners. Because that is a distraction. And to use Clive’s term, that is ‘energy sapping’.”

Jones of course will be looking to have to his next role lined up, whatever happens in France. He certainly won’t lack for opportunities, with Australian rugby having made public their desire for him to return in some form.

Eddie has got an amazing coaching brain and the motivation for Eddie all the way along is to improve the individual performance of a player and then that rolls into your team. That is a great motivation to have,” Phil Kearns told RugbyPass recently. “Everyone wants to come out the other side of something having improved.

“No one wants to go backwards and that is a great driver from Eddie. He has done an amazing job with England, he did a great job with Australia over the years and he is a person who has also grown and I think it would be great. His heart is still with Australia and we would love to have him.”

“This isn’t just me but other people in Australia have mentioned the same thing. He does have a reputation as being hard but he has also got a reputation of being a great coach.”

additional reporting PA

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