JOHANNESBURG – England’s latest defeat was marred by ugly scenes after the final whistle, as Eddie Jones became embroiled in a verbal confrontation with South African fans.
The incident at Ellis Park followed an epic Test which the Springboks won 42-39, after the visitors had surged into a 24-3 lead early on.
This was England’s fourth consecutive Test defeat and as if the result itself wasn’t hard enough to take, Jones was subjected to abuse as he left the field.
Onlookers said that Bok fans leaned over railings above the tunnel and shouted insults at the Australian. He stood his ground for 10-15 seconds before being led away by players and staff.
Asked about the clash, he said: “They (South Africa fans) have always got plenty to say. Especially when they win.”
When asked if he had said anything back, he added: “Of course I did, (but) it’s not for me to share with you.”
Later, Jones attempted to play down what had happened, by joking: “I was just asking them where I could get a good bottle of Pinotage and I’m still waiting for the answer! They told me to go find it myself, so I’ll have to go find it myself.
“I wouldn’t worry about that because it was such a great game of rugby. Don’t worry about one little conversation about a bottle of red wine in the tunnel.”
Reflecting on his team’s performance and defeat, the head coach added: “It was a game we could have won. I’ve never seen a better 20 minutes by a visiting side at Ellis Park, then our next 60 was a mix of inconsistency and lack of discipline.
“We had a penalty count of 12-4 against us and it’s hard to win any Test match with that. I’m proud of the effort of the boys, but we need to fix our discipline.
“It’s always my problem to fix – I select the players and we have to change the behaviours of the players. Sometimes that isn’t easy.”
Defence was another problem area – as it was when the Barbarians plundered nine tries against England late last month. “We certainly conceded some easy tries today,” said Jones. “We struggled to get our spacing right and it’s something we are working on. I thought they attacked well and we’ll keep working on it.”
Billy Vunipola, fit again and playing his first international for more than a year, said: “We’ll work on our discipline this week, there’s a lot we can work on, but I think we’ll be fine.
“We probably gave them too much front-foot ball and too much space around the ruck. It was a great occasion and we don’t like losing.”
Mail On Sunday