Eddie Jones apologises for race-related comment in England press conference

Jack de Menezes
Eddie Jones has apologised for a race-related comment made in an England press conference: Reuters

England head coach Eddie Jones has apologised for race-related comments he made at a press conference on Thursday afternoon ahead of the Six Nations match with Ireland.

The 60-year-old Australian, who is half Japanese and has a Japanese-American mother, claimed that a reporter must have him confused for “another half-Asian person” and that “maybe we all look the same".

Jones was asked directly about whether he still uses meditation to help with his coaching techniques as well as his wider mental health, which appeared to be in relation to his claim during the Rugby World Cup that he utilised breathing exercises and mindfulness to clear his head first thing in the morning.

“I don’t think I’ve ever spoken about meditation, you must be thinking about someone else, maybe another half-Asian person. Maybe we all look the same,” Jones said.

A Rugby Football Union spokesman soon issued an apology on behalf of Jones, and claimed that he had spoken in person to the reporter who asked the question.

An RFU spokesman said: “Eddie made an off-the-cuff comment during the press conference which was not intended to cause any offence. He has subsequently spoken to the journalist privately explaining this and apologised, which was accepted.”

Jones’s comments followed a question regarding Caroline Flack’s tragic death and how the England set-up – and Jones in particular – were working to look after the England players’ mental health, particularly in an age when social media abuse is a very common occurrence after matches.

“Obviously I’ve read and listened to some stuff on the girl and feel sorry for her family, and thoughts are with her family,” Jones said.

“In terms of our players we try to take a balanced approach, obviously social media is an important part of today’s society. For some players it’s massively important, for other players it’s not important, so it’s more of an individual way of looking after each player as well as we can."

England meanwhile are facing escalating problems at prop after Beno Obano was called back into Jones' training squad ahead of Sunday's clash with Ireland, just one day after being sent back to his club.

Obano has been summoned to the team's base in Surrey as cover for either Joe Marler or Ellis Genge, with Jones refusing to specify which loosehead has become a doubt for the Twickenham showdown.

The news comes two days after Mako Vunipola was ruled out of the round three fixture for family reasons that have forced his return to Tonga.

Beno Obano has been recalled to the England squad as injury cover (Getty)

Obano returned to Bath on Wednesday after becoming one of the six players culled from England's 33-man squad, but has been summoned back to England's camp and will train on Thursday afternoon.

If Marler or Genge do fail to recover in time, then Obano will make his Test debut against Ireland.

"Beno's on the freight train, just in as a bit of cover. As I said we've got a few niggles so we just needed an extra prop in there," Jones said.

Jones had already announced an enlarged 27-man squad – two more than usual at this stage of the week – due to “a number of niggles” in the squad ahead of the must-win match if they are to keep their Six Nations hopes alive.

Read more

Jones accused of using ‘scaremongering’ tactics by O’Driscoll