These are your rugby headlines on Friday, March 19.
‘Poison’ must be removed from players’ minds – Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones says “rat poison” must be removed from players’ heads in an extraordinary outburst before their clash with Ireland this weekend.
Jones’ side played with flair in the victory against France at Twickenham last weekend, earning plaudits for their performance and for the way they reacted to the 40-24 defeat to Wales in the previous round.
England have been turgid at times and despite their win over the French cannot retain their Six Nations crown this year.
They came in for heavy criticism earlier in the tournament after defeat to Scotland and were also under fire for losing to Wales.
Asked how player confidence had been affected over the past few weeks, Jones went on the offensive.
“I’ve never seen confidence walk through the door, so I don’t know what confidence is,” Jones said. “I don’t think there is any such thing as confidence, you either think rightly or you think wrongly and the wrong time you start to listen to the poison that’s written in the media, that rat poison gets into players’ heads.
“We try to keep it out of their head.
“We try to spray all that rat poison that you try to put in and get it out of their head, so we are always working hard to keep it out of their heads. It keeps me busy, mate.”
France v Scotland date and time confirmed
The France v Scotland Six Nations match which was postponed earlier in the tournament has now been rescheduled.
The clash will now take place on Friday, March 26 – six days after the competition was supposed to finish. It will kick off at 8pm GMT in Paris.
The original match was set to be played on February 28, but a Covid outbreak in the French camp meant it was postponed.
It will be played outside of the international window, meaning key players could be missing for each side.
The game could yet decide the title, with France needing to beat Wales tomorrow night and then Scotland as well, recording bonus point victories in each match.
Wales can seal the deal with victory in Paris, of course, but a loss would mean a nervous ending, watching if France pip them to the title a week today.
All eyes on O’Mahony
Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony admits he was “100 per cent wrong” in the incident which saw him red carded against Wales in the opening round of the Six Nations.
O’Mahony is back in the Ireland selection mix after a three-game ban for a reckless clear-out on Wales’ Tomas Francis in Cardiff.
O’Mahony, though, says he will be giving his all in the green jersey again this weekend against England after being named among the Irish substitutes for the clash in Dublin.
Speaking about his red card, he said : “When it comes to the breakdown and when it comes to international rugby, you’ve got to be incredibly urgent, you’ve got to be incredibly accurate and you’ve got to bring physicality. And these incidents happen. It’s a very physical game.
“I’ve always played hard. I’ve always played fairly, in my opinion, and, look, I was 100% wrong in the incident and with what happened, but I think the guys – my team-mates – know better than anyone that I was acting with the best intentions for the team, that day. And, unfortunately, that’s what happened.
“I don’t think they’d be looking to me to put in any different performance than I go around and do every other week, playing for Ireland. That would be unjust to the jersey. I try, every time, to play as best as I can. I think, more importantly than anyone, the lads around me know that.”
Patchell returns for Scarlets
Rhys Patchell has handed the Scarlets and Wales a boost by returning to full fitness after a long-term lay-off.
The fly-half has been sidelined for the past four months after picking up a concussion playing for Wales against Scotland at Parc y Scarlets in October.
His regional coach Glenn Delaney has confirmed that the No.10 is available for selection ahead of Monday’s PRO14 match against Connacht.
“Rhys is fit and able to be selected, which is great news for him,” he said.
“It has been great getting him back up to speed, he was on the plane over to Munster and that was part of the plan to get him acclimatised back into the group.
“He is available to be selected this week. He has done everything he needs to do. The time factor was critical; that time has been served, he has been treated, reconditioned and is ready to go. He is a great guy to have in the mix to pick.”