Eddie Jones hopes to repair image of rugby after Barbarians' protocols fiasco

Thirteen players charged with misconduct for breaking health guidelines

England head coach Eddie Jones during the training session at The Lensbury Hotel, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Wednesday October 28, 2020. See PA story RUGBYU England. Photo credit should read: Alex Davidson/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only, no commercial use without prior consent from rights holder.

Eddie Jones said England aim to repair the reputation of a sport reduced to a 'laughing stock' by the cancellation of their Barbarians fixture.

Thirteen Barbarians players have been charged with misconduct for breaking coronavirus protocols after a group that included former England captain Chris Robshaw went out in central London on successive nights last week.

Footage from the Running Horse pub in Mayfair on one of the evenings has caused sizeable damage, with Rugby Football Union losing around £1million ($1.2m) in lost broadcast and sponsorship revenue.

Furthermore, the inevitable cancellation of the non-cap international at Twickenham has robbed England of their warm-up for Saturday's clash with Italy in Rome, where the Six Nations title is on the line.

"We understand that rugby at the moment is a bit of a laughing stock and we all love the game," Jones said.

"No one likes to see a game called off because of a breakdown in the protocols in society at the moment. That's what happened.

"It's not good for rugby, but we have got an opportunity to turn that around. It's a weight we carry and it's a weight that we will enjoy carrying.

"We are lucky enough to play the game at the highest level and we want to make sure we put the game back where it needs to be.

"We have a great game in rugby and we don't like to see it portrayed as something that isn't a serious sport, as it has been."

Jones cites the example of cricket's ball-tampering scandal involving Australia in 2018 as an illustration of how wounds can be healed.

"History shows that sport changes quickly," said Jones, who has given Exeter second row Jonny Hill his Test debut against Italy.

"If you look at the situation with the Australian cricket team and the sandpaper incident, that was not a great time for cricket and it was not a great time for Australian cricket.

"Now people have forgotten that and it's our responsibility to put on a performance so that people don't remember what happened a couple of weeks ago."