‘Never again’: Eddie Jones abused on horror train ride
FORMER Wallabies mentor Eddie Jones says he will no longer travel by public transport after being targeted with verbal and physical abuse due to his role as England rugby coach.
The morning after England had been beaten 25-13 by Scotland in their Six Nations clash at Murrayfield, Jones travelled alone by train via standard class from Edinburgh to Manchester to be a guest of Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford.
Once Manchester United had defeated Chelsea 2-1, the Australian completed the final leg of his six-hour journey to London knowing that using public transport was no longer a viable option having received abuse from rugby and football fans.
"I'm a human being. I don't consider myself any different from anyone else, so for me to travel on public transport I thought was OK. But I'll make sure I won't in future. It's as simple as that," Jones said.
"I can't because it was shown on Sunday what happens when I do. That's the world we live in. I was massively surprised. It wasn't comfortable." When asked whether the abuse was physical or verbal, Jones replied: "A bit of both.
"It's part of the challenge. As an Australian coaching England, there were always going to be challenges and that's just one of them." Jones casts his experience in the light of an interview given last week by Scotland and British and Irish Lions great Gavin Hastings, while also referencing prop Simon Berghan's pre-Calcutta Cup match claim that "everyone hates England."
"As a supporter of one of his opponents you just want to rub his face in the dirt," said Hastings, who won 67 caps in a distinguished career spanning nine years.
Jones believes that Hastings and Berghan should have chosen their words more carefully due to the influence they wield.
"It magnifies that if you're in a position of responsibility you've got to be careful what you say," he said.
"Because if you talk about hate and you talk about rubbing peoples' nose in the dirt, and all those sorts of things, it incites certain behaviours and are they the sorts of behaviours that we want to see?"
Part of Jones' frustration with the events of Sunday is born out of his willingness to engage with supporters.
"I never knock back a request for a selfie unless I'm racing to somewhere. So I try and do the right thing by the fans, but if this happens then you've got to have a look at your own safety," he said.
Sandwiched in between bouts of being vilified by supporters, many of whom were drunk, Jones enjoyed an illuminating discussion with former Manchester United boss Ferguson that helped rationalise only the second defeat of his 26-Test reign.
"He's had a lot of different experiences, some of them he shared with me and you just keep learning," Jones said.
"He mentioned a lot of matches where things went wrong and a lot of the times you don't have a solution to it and that's the reality.
"We don't have robots, we're human beings and on a day, things can happen to people and we don't know why. If we knew, then everyone would have a hundred per cent record."