England coach Eddie Jones certainly won plenty of hearts as well as inspiring future generations with his appearance at Sudbury Rugby Club on Friday.
Despite the club’s low-key promotion of the event, the Red Rose head coach’s appearance — a thank you to Sudbury coach Ben Scully for his work as a year-long intern with him at the RFU — saw more than 300 people line the pitch.
The vast majority were seeking autographs and selfies, and the Australian coach, who has taken England on a record-winning run to capture the Six Nations once again, did not disappoint, never dropping his Cheshire cat-like grin and playful quips.
Asked what advice he had for Scully on recently becoming an international coach with Norway — something he plans to combine with his role with Sudbury — Jones said: “Maybe keep out of the saunas in Norway!”
Before adding what seemed to be his backing for the dual role: “It is a very interesting job, and it is great for him to want to do more.
“It is important he keeps coaching well at this level and then to have the opportunity to coach in Norway is fantastic.”
Others who turned out on the night were more interested in watching how he handled a coaching session with Sudbury — a side who have struggled for results this season, culminating in their bottom-three finish in London One North which may or may not see them relegated back to where they were promoted from last season.
Jones was wired for sound, and his jovival side was on full display: ‘Oi fella! You would have got that if you had any pace!’
The man who masterminded the World Cup’s greatest upset when his Japan side stunned holders South Africa to win 34-32 in England’s 2015 tournament, said of the session: “The boys were excellent, really good, and it was great to see all these young kids here wanting to play rugby.
“Today we did some little unstructured games about going from attack to defence and defence to attack, which is an enormous part of the game.”
Club officials had shown Jones round the Whittome Field site, including the changing rooms.
“It is very impressive,” he said.
“For a small club to have good dressing rooms and a good pavilion with so many people interested in the game shows just how healthy the game of rugby is in Sudbury.”