Jones in mischievous mood ahead of tomorrow’s clash (Image: The RFU Collection via Getty Ima)
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Eddie Jones has stirred the pot ahead of England’s clash with Ireland by labelling Andy Farrell’s team the ‘United Nations’.
A third of the starting XV picked by Farrell for tomorrow’s Twickenham clash were not born in Ireland and qualify through rugby’s controversial three-year residency rule.
“I heard someone calling them the United Nations,” Jones said after naming his “strongest team possible” for the Autumn Nations Cup showdown. “I had a quick chuckle.
“I can understand how Irish people would be upset about Irish-born players missing out.”
Ollie Lawrence keeps England place to face Ireland in Eddie Jones' "strongest possible" team
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell
(Image: Getty Images)
Farrell’s Ireland were dubbed the Irish Barbarians by Argentina star Matias Moroni after they beat Wales last week with players drawn from as far afield as New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
His Twickenham line-up features Kiwi trio Bundee Aki, James Lowe and Jamison Gibson-Park as well as South African-born duo CJ Stander and Quinn Roux.
“Andy and (assistant coach) Mike Catt are just selecting the team they are allowed under the laws and regulations,” conceded Jones. “They are just sticking by the regulations.”
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Bundee Aki, one of five players in the Irish team to qualify by residency
Jones cannot be high and mighty about this given the team he named yesterday features New Zealand-born Mako Vunipola and his Australia-born brother Billy.
He did hail Ireland as the “strongest poaching team in the world” – but he was referring to possession rather than players from other countries!
He also said they were “very, very tough” and reminded everyone that “18 months ago they were ranked number one in the world”.
Then came the kicker.
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Ireland were 'dominant'in their Nations Cup opener against Wales
(Image: Sportsfile via Getty Images)
"Ireland were very happy with their dominant performance against Wales,” Jones declared. “As their coaching staff said, they were dominant.
“So the challenge is can they bring a dominant Irish performance to Twickenham?”
The gauntlet had been thrown and let’s be honest, after what has been an ordinary start to rugby's autumn, with mediocre matches played in empty stadiums or cancelled altogether due to Covid, it is welcome.
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This is a match which does mean something. The winner will almost certainly top Pool A and advance to next month’s final.
England have beaten Ireland handsomely on their last three meetings, scoring 15 tries and conceding just six.
And with the visitors missing both Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray, there was a danger complacency could creep into England’s mindset. But not now.
Ellis Genge gets revenge on Georgia for scrum scrap as England outmuscle feisty minnows
England's forwards steamroller the Georgian pack last week
(Image: Getty Images)
Jones insists experience is “massive” in Test rugby which makes his selection of centre Ollie Lawrence interesting.
Lawrence is 21 and started his first Test only seven days ago against Georgia. This will be on another level.
ENGLAND: Daly; Joseph, Lawrence, Slade, May; Farrell (capt), Youngs; M Vunipola, George, Sinckler; Itoje, Launchbury; Curry, Underhill, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Dunn, Genge, Stuart, Hill, Earl, Robson, Ford, Malins.