Jones takes argument to country after routing Exiles

Saracens 16 London Irish 13
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The Independent Online

There is rarely a dull moment when Eddie Jones is around. The Saracens' director of rugby was quick to talk up his side's chances of winning the Premiership title after a famous win at Vicarage Road on Saturday, then launched a stinging attack on the international player release agreement brokered by the RFU and Premier Rugby Limited.

The agreement, which is in its first season, was supposed to end the club v country dilemma facing England's leading players by providing them with periods of rest in the build-up to internationals.

But the detail has proved more contentious, particularly the insistence that all members of England's Elite Player Squad should sit out one of the three rounds of Premiership matches scheduled for the festive period.

Jones, the former Australia coach, questioned the wisdom of the agreement, citing the example of the England captain Steve Borthwick, who will sit out next week's Premiership match at Gloucester but will be available for two low-key European Challenge Cup matches next month.

"I would rather take Steve out of the European Challenge Cup and he wants to be out of the Challenge Cup games," Jones said. "We should be having our best players playing every Premiership game. So Borthwick has got to sit on the sidelines next week and twiddle his thumbs."

Neil de Kock's late withdrawal through illness meant promotion for Fiji scrum-half Moses Rauluni.

Rauluni made the most of his opportunity, clattering through three tackles for Saracens' only try which was cancelled out by a long-range effort from Declan Danaher, created by Sailosi Tagicakibau's splendid counter-attack. But that was a rare moment of cohesion from the Irish.

The recruitment of Borthwick and two more international forwards in Michael Owen and Wikus van Heerden has made Saracens more resilient and brought some soul back to a club that Jones acknowledged had become a "transit lounge" for players.

Saracens: Try Rauluni; Conversion Jackson; Penalties Jackson 3. London Irish: Try Danaher. Conversion Hewat. Penalties Hewat 2. Saracens: A Goode; K Ratuvou, K Sorrell, A Powell (A Farrell, 75), N Cato; G Jackson, M Rauluni; N Lloyd, F Ongaro, C Johnston, S Borthwick (capt), C Jack, W van Heerden, A Saull (B Skirving, 73), M Owen. London Irish: P Hewat; T Ojo, E Seveali'I, S Mapusua, S Tagicakibau (M Catt, 61); S Geraghty, P Hodgson (A Lalanne, 73); C Dermody (D Murphy, 63), D Paice (D Coetzee, 62), T Lea'aetoa (A Corbisiero, 52), J Hudson (K Roche, 52), B Casey (capt), D Danaher, S Armitage, C Hala'ufia (R Thorpe, 75). Referee: C White (Cheltenham).