Jones urges critics to lay off Robshaw over virus breach

LONDON (AFP) – England coach Eddie Jones wants Chris Robshaw to be spared a torrent of abuse following his role in the cancellation of last weekend’s match against the Barbarians.

The former England captain was among a group of Barbarians players who broke coronavirus health protocols by leaving their team hotel to go for a meal out in London last Wednesday.

An investigation revealed this was one of at least two incidents where the guidelines had been flouted, leading the Rugby Football Union to call off Sunday’s match at Twickenham, a fixture designed to act as a warm-up for Jones’ men ahead of their virus-delayed Six Nations finale away to Italy this weekend.

A bonus-point win in Rome on Saturday could yet see England crowned Six Nations champions, with Jones insisting he’d no interest in apportioning blame.

“I really haven’t followed it,” he told Sky Sports. “Once it was done and dusted, then it was on to find the best preparation for Italy.

“I’m sure if Chris was involved, he’ll be sorry for his actions. Chris is a good young man. He’s served his country well; let’s make sure we don’t take it out on him too badly,” added the veteran Australian coach.

Former Harlequins back-rower Robshaw apologised via social media last Friday.

“It was irresponsible of me to break the protocols which are put in place to protect players, staff and the public,” he said.

“I understand that my actions have ultimately contributed to the cancellation of Sunday’s match and I am sincerely remorseful for my role in undoing all the amazing work that went into trying to make it happen,” he added.