Jones 'sincerely' sorry for Ireland and Wales slurs


Bagshot (United Kingdom) (AFP)

Eddie Jones insisted he was "sincerely" sorry after a video emerged Wednesday in which he referred to Ireland as "scummy" and described Wales as a "shit place".

The video of a speech, which a jovial Jones gave to a partner company of England team sponsors Mitsubishi last year, surfaced again just days before England will try to stop 2018 Six Nations champions Ireland from completing a Grand Slam at Twickenham on Saturday.

Jones and England's governing Rugby Football Union both issued statements of apology on Wednesday and the Australian was in contrite mood as he sought to draw a line under the incident after naming his team to play Ireland on Thursday.

"I'd just like to say I've apologised for the remarks," Jones told reporters at England's Bagshot training base, southwest of London.

"I sincerely mean that and I really don't have anything else to say on the matter."

Jones denied his remarks would give Ireland an additional incentive to win on Saturday.

"Ireland are preparing for a Grand Slam, they don't need any extra motivation."

It was a point emphasised by Ireland coach Joe Schmidt.

"Those words don't impact on how we play or how his team plays and that's our focus," said Schmidt after announcing Ireland's team at their squad base in Maynooth.

"I know it's probably at the stage of being boring, which we don't want to be described as, but the bubble we have here allows us to focus on the task in hand," the New Zealander added.

Warren Gatland insisted he too had no problems with Jones' remarks, the Wales coach saying: "Eddie makes a few comments and stuff, it's not offensive to us."

England go into Saturday's match on the back of successive defeats by Scotland and France that ended their hopes of a third straight Six Nations title under Australian coach Jones.

"The pressure for England is not about the comments -- they have to win on Saturday," said Gatland.

"That's how important the game is for them because potentially if England lose against Ireland they then have three games (on tour) against South Africa, so it could go from a losing streak of two to six pretty quickly."

- 'Great coach' -

England wing Anthony Watson said Jones' remarks had not been discussed by the squad.

"I haven't seen the video myself," Watson explained. "It's not something I'm going into.

"Eddie is a great coach and is a great man. That's all I've got to say to that."

Jones also came under fire this week after Marius van der Westhuizen, who will be a touch judge at Twickenham on Saturday, officiated during an England training session.

World Rugby regulations bar match referees -- in this case Australia's Angus Gardner -- from working with competing teams in the build-up to a Test but no such prohibition exists for their assistants.

Asked if South African official van der Westhuizen had risked a conflict of interest, Jones replied: "What, are are you questioning his integrity?

"We went through World Rugby, which is the proper channel. We went through World Rugby, asked for a southern hemisphere referee to try to help us with our breakdown, and that?s what they offered."

Schmidt, however, said he thought the rules ought to be tightened up so none of the officials were involved with teams just days out from an international match.

"I'm sure in retrospect people are probably thinking it's not the best thing to do."

Schmidt, however, added: "I know Marius and I would have no hesitation in standing by his integrity.

"I don't think it will affect his decision making and we'll stand by him as an official on Saturday."