Eddie Jones takes swipe at EPCR as Alex Lozowski confusion continues ahead of autumn internationals

England coach is unaware of Lozowski's disciplinary fate with European Professional Club Rugby still yet to decide when his next hearing will be

Jack de Menezes
Vilamoura
Monday 29 October 2018 16:46
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England squad trained by sprint coach Jonas Dodoo during Portugal camp

Eddie Jones took a pop at European Professional Club Rugby for the handling of Alex Lozowski’s disciplinary hearing, with the coach in the dark over his eligibility for this weekend’s autumn international against South Africa.

The Saracens centre returned to Portugal to resume England’s training camp at the weekend after attending a disciplinary hearing last Friday.

Having initially been banned for two weeks for dangerously entering a ruck, Lozowski then saw the suspension extended for another week to ensure he missed two matches, only to win an appeal against the entire ban. However, an EPCR appeal saw a dismissed charge of a dangerous tackle on Glasgow Warriors’ Ruaridh Jackson reinstated, leading to a decision to reconvene the hearing on an unspecified date in the near future.

Asked about the situation, Jones admitted he is just as confused by the furore, which could force Lozowski out of most, if not all, of the Quilter Internationals next month, and he used the recent debacle in the match between Cardiff Blues and Glasgow in which they wore near-identical kits to sum up the state of European rugby governance.

“I don’t know mate, I have no idea,” Jones said. “We’re not worrying about it. If he’s available for selection someone will tell us. If he’s not then he’s not. He’s back and will train today.

“I have no idea when his next disciplinary hearing is. Does anyone know? When you’ve got two sides that play in the same colour jersey, it’s probably pretty hard to work out when the next tribunal is.”

EPCR apologised to both clubs after Cardiff back Gareth Anscombe labelled the clash “a disgrace”, with a statement admitting that “procedures were not sufficiently followed” for the European clash.

The only other concern Jones still has is over lock Courtney Lawes, who will return to the Algarve this afternoon for assessment on a back injury. Lawes returned to the UK on Saturday for “specialist treatment”, having suffered a back injury at the start of the month after sleeping uncomfortably in a hotel bed ahead of Northampton Saints’ defeat by Leicester Tigers.

Jones will not rule Lawes out of contention to face the Springboks this weekend, but admits that it is unlikely that he can feature unless he can come through an intense session ahead of Tuesday’s 25-man squad selection, which will be further reduced to 23 on Thursday.

“We really won’t know until he comes in today,” Jones explained. “He came in injured from [last week’s] game. He had a walk through on Wednesday and realised it wasn’t right. Our medical team got on to it straight away. He was investigated here, we couldn’t get the required treatment here so had to send him back. At the moment it seems like it’s had the required effect and we’ll just wait and see how he comes in tonight.

Jones has not yet ruled Lawes out of contention (Getty )

“It’s a lower back injury. He’s had that for a while. He missed two games for Northampton. He came back and played a game but it hasn’t really rectified itself. We’re hopeful he will be in contention for selection.

“He’s a 60-capper, a Lions player, great ball carrier, a good defender. A big loss, so we’ve just got to pick up the slack. That’s the great opportunity of these Test matches. If you’re missing some players you’ve got good opportunities for other players to come through and build the depth of the squad and your resilience for the World Cup.

“[Lawes] won’t train today. We’re hopeful he’ll do some light training on Tuesday. Maybe he’ll do some full training on Thursday and we’ll make an assessment on whether he’s right to go.”

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