Eddie Jones rang me and said: ‘why are you playing so sh*t?’

FORMER England winger Dan Scarbrough has revealed he knew his time at Saracens could be up when Eddie Jones rang him to ask “why are you playing so sh*t?”

Eddie Jones: His forthright opinions cut short Dan Scarbrough’s time at Saracens. (Picture: PA)
Eddie Jones: His forthright opinions cut short Dan Scarbrough’s time at Saracens. (Picture: PA)

It is the sort of frank exchange the current England coach is sometimes known for although, for ex-Leeds Tykes star Scarbrough, it led to him moving to France and enjoying some of the best times of his career.

England play France in the Six Nations today with all eyes on Jones’ side as the defending champions seek to avoid what would be a disastrous third defeat in four tournament matches.

However, Scarbrough – who started out at Wakefield before shining for Tykes – does not believe they are in a “bad place” as such, even though their form and style so far has been frustrating.

Dan Scarbrough playing for Saracens against Leeds Tykes in 2005 (Picture: Richard Lane)

He knows what France are capable of, though, having grown to love their rugby when he moved to Paris with Racing Metro from Saracens at the start of 2009.

After three years there, he also coached Lille, and ironically it all came about after that unexpected conversation with Jones.

Bingley-born Scarbrough, 43, told The Yorkshire Post: “I had two stints with Eddie. First, when he came in short-term at Sarries and we seemed to get on pretty well. But then I got a bad knee injury in ‘07 and it was just as I came back from that, and Eddie was coming back after he’d been with South Africa in the World Cup, that I remember getting a call from him.

“It was a Thursday night coming home from a training session and an interesting conversation.

England's Dan Scarbrough, right, tackles South Africa's Bryan Habana, left, during his second rugby test match against South Africa at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria, South Africa, June 2, 2007. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

“We’d been beaten heavily at Bath and he rang out of the blue. I’d not spoken to him for months and he said ‘Hi, Scabs, how are you? I’m ringing just to ask why you’re playing so sh*t?!

“And that was the start of the rot for me. Clearly, Eddie has his ways of motivating and has some mind games and the news was out that he was coming back.

“I saw the call and was pleased to hear from him – but then wallop! I didn’t really get a chance afterwards. It wasn’t just me; when a coach comes in sometimes he wants new players. I’ve never spoken to him about it. It’d be nice to have a chat at some point. But now’s probably not the time!”

Former Saracens team-mate Simon Raiwalui was Racing captain at the time and offered a different type of phone call.

Scarbrough, who is now head of rugby at Bradford Grammar, recalled: “I was in the throws of going to Newcastle or Wasps.

“I’d even agreed a deal with Newcastle and I felt terribly bad about that actually. But this came my way. We jumped on it. My wife was seven months pregnant.

“They bought me a six bedroom house in Paris, gave me a car, put all the furniture in and it was great, living the French lifestyle, a new culture and a new way of playing rugby.”

Scarbrough will look on with interest as Max Malins makes a first Test start today, replacing British Lion Elliot Daly at full-back as Jones seeks to change the dynamics following defeats against Scotland and Wales.

He said: “Clearly, England have outstanding rugby players but for whatever reason they’re not making the decision to attack when it is on which is frustrating.

“When we do go wide we have mixed success. I just feel we need to attack straight in those wider channels and I’m hoping someone like Malins will offer a little bit more out there as he is a pure full-back. Daly is a great player but I don’t see him as an out and out full-back, more as a 13. Malins is going well, clearly he is an attacking threat and, for me, back threes are about balance. I think he will bring that.

“There’ll be a lot of pressure – his first start in such a high pressure game – but he just needs to not try and set the world on fire.”

Scarbrough won just two caps for his country and conceded: “My first was at full-back and, sadly, didn’t go well. It was pre-World Cup 2003 and a kind of one-shot, one opportunity against Wales at Millennium Stadium.

“It was a quick rise for me into the England side; get out there and show us what you can do.

“I bottled it, if I’m honest, and I’ve never watched that game back. I’d been in the training squad for a long, long time and I’d waited for that moment.

“But, it overwhelmed me. My second cap didn’t come until four years later against South Africa when I was on the wing in Pretoria. I enjoyed that, and was more relaxed. But I was injured shortly after and Mark Cueto and Ugo Monye came through instead.”

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