England coach Eddie Jones has been rebuked by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) after he claimed they relied too heavily on the private school system to produce national team players.
Jones said that players who came through the system lacked “resolve” and led a “closeted life” in an interview with the the i newspaper.
He added that “you are going to have to blow the whole thing up” as leaders were not being produced because “everything is done for you.”
However, the RFU were quick to distance themselves from Jones’ comments and confirmed that CEO Bill Sweeney had spoken directly to Jones about the “valued role” private schools play.
“The RFU is hugely appreciative and supportive of the role both the independent and state school sectors play in introducing boys and girls to our sport and in our player pathway,” the statement said.
“A collaborative approach and strong partnerships within the education sector ensure players are supported and offered opportunities to develop at all schools.
“The most recent England men’s squad contained players who have benefited from time within independent schools, including Maro Itoje and Henry Arundell, as well as many from the state sector including Jonny Hill and Courtney Lawes.
“As a union, we are always working to broaden the appeal and accessibility of rugby union to boys and girls from a wide range of backgrounds.”
Eight of the England squad who played in Australia this summer were either fully or partially privately schooled.
Clive Woodward, who coached England’s 2003 World Cup-winning squad which consisted mostly of independently-schooled players, said that the criticism was “insulting, divisive and disrespectful.”