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Sports

Eddie Jones reveals he was abused by fans on train after England defeat

theguardian.com

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Head coach no longer feels safe on British public transport

Suffered physical and verbal abuse on train from Scotland

England’s head coach, Eddie Jones, says he no longer feels safe using British public transport after being verbally and physically abused on a train following his side’s Calcutta Cup defeat on Saturday. Jones has also criticised jingoistic comments made by Scottish rugby figures which he feels helped to fuel an unsavoury post-match atmosphere.

In addition to encountering problems as a standing passenger on the 9.15am train from Edinburgh Waverley to Manchester, it is also understood Jones was later caught up with fans heading back to London after Chelsea’s defeat at Old Trafford.

British Transport Police and the Rugby Football Union say no formal complaints have been received or made but the Australian is in no rush to repeat the experience. When asked if he had been subjected to verbal or physical hostility, Jones replied “a bit of both” and he admitted his journey “wasn’t comfortable”.

It has been reported that he was sworn at in the wake of Scotland’s 25-13 victory, England’s first Calcutta Cup defeat for a decade.

“For me to travel on public transport I thought was OK but I’ll make sure I won’t in future,” the 58‑year‑old Australian said.

“It was shown on Sunday what happens when I do. That’s the world we live in. I try and do the right thing by the fans but if that happens you’ve got to have a look at your own safety.”

He brushed aside suggestions he would have been better advised travelling in first class. He said: “I’m a human being. I don’t consider myself any different from anyone else.”

Jones insisted, however, that not all the catalysts for the trouble on Sunday were aboard his train. His eye was particularly caught by reported pre-game comments from the former Scotland captain Gavin Hastings, who indicated Scotland would love nothing more than “to rub Eddie Jones’s face in the dirt”.

The Scotland prop Simon Berghan, who grew up in New Zealand but is eligible to represent Scotland via his grandfather, also suggested beating England was a favoured pastime in both hemispheres.

“I sort of knew that everyone hates England, basically, because we did, but when I came over here it was made more obvious to me,” Berghan said last week.

Jones believes such rhetoric encourages others to stray beyond routine banter. “If you talk about hate and you talk about rubbing people’s nose in the dirt, and all those sorts of things, it incites certain behaviours,” he said. “Are they the sorts of behaviours that we want to see?”

It is not the first hassle the Australian has encountered – “I had it down in Bath once before a game but I dealt with that pretty swiftly” – but he is now keen to put this latest episode behind him. “As an Australian coaching England, there were always going to be challenges. I don’t want to make a big deal about it. It’s over and done with. It’s part of the challenge. We march on – we’ve got a game against France next week.”

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