Six Nations rugby headlines as England consider getting rid of Eddie Jones and Alun Wyn emerges as Lions favourite

Here are your Six Nations headlines for Monday, March 22.

Eddie Jones facing showdown talks with RFU

England coach Eddie Jones is facing crunch talks with the Rugby Football Union as the inquest into a dismal Six Nations campaign continues.

According to The Guardian, Jones is set to hold talks with chief executive Bill Sweeney as the RFU look to get to the bottom of what went wrong for England, who slumped to their third defeat of the tournament at the hands of Ireland on Super Saturday.

England lost to Ireland, Wales and Scotland for the first time in 46 years, and ended the tournament in fifth with a negative points difference for the first time since 1987.

Jones is currently the highest paid rugby union coach, and recently agreed an extension to take him through to the 2023 World Cup.

Former England player Stuart Barnes ahs already called for him to be dismissed.

The PA news agency reports that Jones will be assessed on his historical achievements as well as the outcome of the tournament, with his success in plotting a route out of a similar slump in 2018 strengthening his position.

However, it’s believed his contract does include a break clause, and it wouldn’t be prohibitively expensive for the RFU to part company with the Australian.

An RFU spokesperson told the Guardian : “Our coaching and leadership team will review our performance in the Six Nations and we know the England team will continue to grow and learn from this.”

When asked if he is the right man to take England forward, Eddie Jones replied “that’s for other people to answer, not for me to answer”, but added that he is “100 per cent” confident he can perform the role and that the Six Nations outcome had not made him question himself.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I’m sure they’re angry. We expect to win and we expect to play better than we did,” said Jones in addressing the frustration of supporters.

“No one is more disappointed than the team and ourselves with what happened and the fans have got the right to be disappointed. We’re gutted by it.”

Former Lions coach backs Alun Wyn to take captaincy

Sir Ian McGeechan says Alun Wyn Jones is now at the “front of the picture” to take the Lions captaincy.

Speaking to the BBC’s Scrum V highlights show, the four-time Lions coach added that the likes of Maro Itoje and James Ryan may now have lost ground in their respective bids to skipper Warren Gatland’s side this summer against South Africa.

He said: “I think second row’s a great place to have a captain and I’d have to admit there’s someone you might know, I think they call him Alun Wyn Jones, who’s put himself in the front of the picture, I think, in this Six Nations.

“Strangely enough, some of the others, [James] Ryan and Maro Itoje, who I thought would be very much at the forefront, have probably lost ground.

“But I think Alun Wyn has been superb and I think with this Welsh side, you can see his character in it and amongst it and that’s so important on a Lions tour.”

Brian Moore on potential last Six Nations broadcast

Former England hooker and commentator Brian Moore has admitted his broadcasting future with the Six Nations is up in the air amid the new CVC deal.

Rugby bosses have sold 14.3 per cent of the tournament’s commercial rights to CVC Capital partners for £365m over a five-year deal, likely paving the way for matches to go behind a paywall to bring in increased revenue going forward.

Taking to Twitter after commentating on France v Wales, Moore admitted that could well have been his last Six Nations broadcast.

“Just emerged to try and write up the extraordinary 6 Nations weekend we’ve just seen”, he wrote on Sunday.

“The France v Wales games might be my last live 6 Nations broadcast, depending on where the broadcasting contract goes under CVC influence.

“If so, it was one hell of a finale.”

Frustrated Owens keen to use Six Nations as stepping stone

Wales hooker Ken Owens says Wales need to use their successful Six Nations campaign as a “stepping stone” on which to build towards the next World Cup in 2023.

Having answered their critics from the autumn, Owens believes Wales now need to use this campaign as a foundation on which to build upon for the future.

“We just need to build from this now,” he added.

“The longer-term plan is the 2023 World Cup, and obviously, experiences like this will benefit the squad.

“We’ve got to learn from these occasions and make the best out of it. We need to use it as a massive stepping stone, looking forward to the future.

“No-one gave us a chance, coming up against what is perhaps the best French side of the last 10 years. Everybody said France were the best side in the world.

“We have really grown from last year’s Six Nations and the Autumn Nations Cup. It is definitely a massive stride forward in terms of looking to the future for Welsh rugby.

“We are happy with our performances and the turnaround in this Six Nations, but on the same hand and at the end of the day, we are here to win rugby matches and championships. That is why we all play the game.”

Ireland give Gatland fresh headache

Andy Farrell believes Ireland’s players have given British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland “one or two more headaches” following their morale-boosting mauling of England.

Gatland, who is finalising plans for this summer’s series against South Africa, visited the Irish training camp in midweek and was in Dublin on Saturday to watch the hosts outclass the deposed Six Nations champions.

Ireland boss Farrell expects some of his squad to be “dead certs” for Lions selection and feels other hopefuls have left New Zealander Gatland with plenty to ponder.

“Warren came in during the week and watched our training session. It was a great tonic for us,” said Farrell, who enjoyed a 32-18 win over Eddie Jones’ men.

“There were a lot of good individual performances at the start of the competition and some lads have just carried that on.

“Some lads are dead certs to get on the plane and I’ve absolutely no doubt that there will be one or two more headaches for Warren after that game.”

Dallaglio demands change

Lawrence Dallaglio has demanded England make changes to their coaching team and playing squad in response to an “unacceptable” Guinness Six Nations from Eddie Jones’ men.

Dallaglio, a former red rose captain and 2003 World Cup winner, believes Jones must act decisively to engineer an exit from the current slump.

“Eddie is in his sixth year with England. He has done some very, very good things,” Dallaglio told BT Sport.

“England have won three of the last six Six Nations campaigns. They got to a World Cup final [in 2019] and were well beaten in that.

“Finishing fifth, losing to Wales, Scotland and Ireland is unacceptable for England. Things have to change.

“If Eddie Jones isn’t going to change, if he’s not going to be removed as head coach, then he needs to bring in some fresh faces on both the playing side and the coaching side.

“You can argue the team needs freshening up in terms of selection. England have gone backwards over the last six months and he needs to address that, he’s the head coach.”

France suffer injury blow ahead of championship decider

France will be without fly-half Matthieu Jalibert for their upcoming Six Nations decider with Scotland.

Jalibert hurt his jaw during the dramatic 32-30 win over Wales in Paris on Saturday, with the French Rugby Federation confirming that Louis Carbonel has been called up in his place.

France have a chance to pip Wales to the title after that pulsating clash at Stade de France, should they earn a bonus point win and better Wales’ point difference against Scotland this Friday night.

Prospect of Women’s Lions team a game-changer

World Cup winner Maggie Alphonsi has hailed the prospect of a women’s British and Irish Lions team as a game changer for rugby union.

A study, backed by insurance company Royal London, is in motion to see if the trailblazing project is feasible. The findings are expected to be published by the end of the year.

Alphonsi, 37, who won the World Cup with England in 2014 and now works as a pundit, told the PA news agency: “I wish I was still playing because I would love to wear a red jersey.

“The feasibility study is huge for the women’s game – not just the potential Lions team – but the investment will help the game grow and it will increase participation.

“Many young girls will see that there is an opportunity to wear the red jersey and that is such a powerful special thing.”

The news of the landmark study comes as a boost to the women’s game after it was announced earlier this month that the 2021 World Cup in New Zealand – which had been due to take place this autumn – has been delayed by a year amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Royal London is the first principal partner of the Women’s Lions programme, which enables them to invest in the future of women’s rugby.

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