The sacking of Claudio Ranieri loomed large over sport on Friday and his dismissal has served as a timely reminder to England of the perils of enjoying success.
Eddie Jones, the England coach, expressed his sympathy for the now dispatched former Leicester City boss but said short-termism and the demand for success means even his job is constantly on the line.
Rugby has formerly prided itself on being a sport which refrains from sacking coaches, but those former pillars of tradition are crumbling in the modern game, with two Aviva Premiership coaches sacked this season, and Jones believes the need for short-term success and immediate returns mean coaches are now under more pressure and have little job security.
As the Six Nations reaches its crucial third weekend, the debate over promotion and relegation continues to form a backdrop to the on-field action.
Ben Te’o will make his first Test start on Sunday for England against Italy while Danny Care gets the scrum-half spot for the round three Six Nations match.
“I wasn’t surprised [about Ranieri] because you know how football thinks,” Jones said. “Rugby will be the same, there’s no doubt, because everyone wants instant results.
“I’ll lose a game and people will be asking, ‘When’s he on the plane home?’ That’s the reality of sport these days. That’s the reality of life. Everyone wants quick fixes, but the reality in sport is that you don’t get quick fixes.
“Everyone’s got a mobile phone, they want to know the information about everything today, at that moment. Before you used to wait for the newspaper to come — now you get the information straight away.
“So life’s all about short-term. It’s happened in sport, the same thing. Everyone wants results like that and if you don’t get them soon, you know you are going to be saying goodbye.”
Jones’ record with England suggests quick fixes are still to be found with 16 wins on the bounce, but even he contemplates his own sporting mortality with constant reminders both in rugby and in other sports of how fickle form can be.
He has used the example of Leicester City to his players, showing how quickly stars can fall and a reminder not to fall into complacency. The England coach knows the pain of being shown the door, having been dispatched by Australia back in 2005 and the Reds two years on, and says he “feels a lot of sympathy” for Ranieri but feels there has to be collective responsibility for their slump in form this season, again using that as a reminder to his own side.
Claudio Ranieri was sacked by Leicester City. Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images
“It’s saddening when you see someone who’s done something absolutely marvellous to be sacked,” Jones said. “I don’t know if you’ve ever been sacked, but it’s humiliating. It’s a humiliating experience.
“At the end of the day, the responsibility is with the players and staff — it’s a joint responsibility. We haven’t been happy with how we’ve played in the Six Nations, but we’re winning, but we want to play better and Sunday is an opportunity to play better and we’re looking forward to it. It’s responsibility from the kit man, to the tighthead prop.”
Leicester City will continue to be used as a cautionary tale for England and will serve as a timely reminder of complacency ahead of their match with Italy on Sunday.
Those lessons from outside of rugby continued this week with ex-England cricket captain Alastair Cook joining them for lunch on Friday and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte visiting on Thursday.
“We try to get guys who are great examples of leadership and get them to talk to the players,” Jones said. “One of the ways to encourage players to be better leaders is to talk to guys who are better than they are. He’s [Cook] a rugby fan and good mates with Dylan [Hartley].
“You sit with a guy like Conte, I learnt so much, honestly. Part of what I learnt from him I feel embarrassed that I’m not doing. You learn these things.
Antonio Conte visited the England rugby team’s training. Darren Walsh/Getty Images
“I watch his team play and I’m so impressed by them. Because they run hard — like that [Chelsea striker Diego] Costa, he’s turned that Costa [from] a bloke who was lazy into the bloke that plays hard for him every week. He obviously took him on, didn’t he? He was happy to say, ‘You don’t want to do it my way, then you can go, son’.”
Jones laughed off suggestions Conte would be reporting back to the Italian camp on anything he picked up from England training ahead of Sunday’s match as they look to secure win No.17 on the bounce.
England have changed four, with Jonathan Joseph the big-name casualty, with Jones preferring Ben Te’o at outside centre. Joseph was left disappointed by the decision, but Jones says the competition for places points towards an increasing squad depth.
“When I announced the squad to the players I said to them, ‘There will be guys left out of this squad that will be good enough to play for the [British & Irish] Lions’,” Jones said. “That’s how strong a squad it is.”
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Jones takes heed of Ranieri demise
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