Eddie Jones has defended his coaching methods and high turnover rate of backroom staff in response to criticism of his England regime.
A report in The Times last week, drawing on testimony from past and present players and staff, often anonymous, painted a picture of a tense and demanding environment lacking in enjoyment.
Jones has just finished rebuilding his coaching team for the third time with John Mitchell, his No.2, the most recent departure after the former All Blacks boss departed for Wasps rather than continue overseeing the defence.
Mitchell’s exit is the latest example of the staff churn that has been persistent since Jones took over at the end of 2015 with assistant coaches, physios, doctors, analysts and psychologists leaving at an alarming rate.
And while England crashed to their worst ever Six Nations performance earlier this year by finishing fifth, their head coach remains defiant over his management style.
“These things happen. Everyone has an opinion on how you operate. I can’t say it’s right or wrong, I try to be a reasonable person,” Jones told BT Sport.
“I’ve coached for a fair period of time and there have probably been times when I haven’t been as nice as I’d like to be. But I endeavour to be fair all the time and I’m excited where this team is going to go.
“The only thing you can do is respond and the only way we’ll respond is by playing good rugby so that’s what we intend to do.”
“Brutal” was one of the words used to describe the way Jones treats his staff, but the 61-year-old said: “I think the fact that I’ve been coaching for this period of time would indicate that that’s not the truth.
“Has it been a high turnover of staff? There’s been turnover in certain areas where we’ve looked to refresh the staff.
“This is my sixth year in the job and you’d expect that from your support staff. I think we’ve got a very good staff here and we appreciate their hard work.”
Jones bristled when asked if he considered himself to be ‘old-school’.
“No I wouldn’t. At all. And I don’t even know what that means. Some of the best old-school coaching is the best coaching,” Jones said.
England have picked an inexperienced squad missing several of its old guard such as Billy and Mako Vunipola and George Ford as Jones looks to mould a new team during the Autumn Nations Series against Tonga, Australia and South Africa.
Marcus Smith is seen as the player to plot a new direction and for the first time Jones confirmed that the 22-year-old will start at fly-half, with captain Owen Farrell installed at inside centre.
The Fort News