England coach Eddie Jones writes to Emma Raducanu to explain comments

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Eddie Jones has written to British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu to explain his comments that she has been overburdened by commercial “distractions” in the wake of her US Open victory.

England’s head coach made the remarks to illustrate his belief that Marcus Smith must remain grounded after the 22-year-old Harlequins magician stepped off the bench to orchestrate a late flurry of tries in a 69-3 victory over Tonga.

Jones suggested that Raducanu has struggled for form since triumphing at Flushing Meadows in September because of her off-court activity.

Emma Raducanu's form has suffered because of commercial distractions, according to Eddie Jones
Emma Raducanu’s form has suffered because of commercial distractions, according to Eddie Jones (PA)

“There’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards,” Jones said.

“What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes. All that is a distraction around her.”

Jones’ language was deemed sexist by some, including former British number one Jo Durie, and while he rejects that allegation, he has contacted the 18-year-old to clarify what he meant.

“It’s not for me to judge that. The comments weren’t made in that spirit at all,” Jones said on Thursday.

“We’ve sent a private letter to Emma to make sure she understands why they were made. As far as I’m concerned it’s the end of the matter.

“The point was that it’s very difficult for young players in the UK and I made that point for a reason – because I think it is.

“We’ve got a really good group of young players coming through in England and I want to make sure we look after them as well as we can.

“The average number of caps for an England player over history is seven. So many good young players come in and get swept away by the distractions.

“We don’t want them to be distracted and that was the only purpose of that comment.”

Smith has the opportunity to continue his own meteoric rise after being promoted to the starting XV for Saturday’s Autumn Nations Series clash with Australia.

It will be the first time he has played alongside Owen Farrell, the inside centre who returns after sitting out the Tonga rout because of a false-positive Covid test, and the biggest challenge of his young career awaits.

Smith’s three caps have been won against the USA, Canada and Tonga and Jones insists the Wallabies present a significant hurdle in his development from rising star to genuine Test fly-half.

“It’s big. We’re playing against the side that’s recently beaten world champions South Africa twice,” said Jones, who has picked Manu Tuilagi on the right wing to accommodate the Smith-Farrell axis.

“It’s a huge step but is he capable of doing it? Of course he is. He’ll rise to the challenge and handle it well, but it’s a big step for him.

“We believe Marcus and Owen are going to be a really good combination – not just for this game but in the future.”

Jones has masterminded seven wins from as many outings against Australia as England boss, but he understands what the fixture means to the nation of his birth.

“This is the game they want win. We have bit of an inferiority complex against the English, the Australians,” Jones said.

“We have always looked at England as the mother country. Our country started as convicts being sent down there so we have always looked up to England.

“I remember as a kid we would stand around for the anthem and it was God Save the Queen.

“We were the smaller country of England so when we played them in sport it was an opportunity to prove we were not the smaller country.”

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