Eddie Jones defends referees amid Rassie Erasmus stadium ban

Eddie Jones was fined in 2007 for criticising referees (Picture: Steve Bardens/RFU/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has launched into a surprise defence of referees as South African counterpart Rassie Erasmus is forced to miss the clash with England for a second successive year due to a string of sarcastic tweets.

England coach Jones’ suggestion he has a ‘blanket rule’ of never speaking about officials may surprise many with the Australian having made a string of post-match comments about decisions this year alone.

But Jones could not resist a dig at Erasmus who is banned from entering Twickenham Stadium for tomorrow’s game after social media posts about the Springboks’ 30-26 defeat to France earlier this month which saw English referee Wayne Barnes subsequently receive death threats.

‘I’m not perfect,’ admitted Jones. ‘I’ve said things that probably haven’t been right but the longer I’ve coached the more I accept we’ve got to look after referees.

‘Back in 2007 I got fined $10,000 for criticising a referee. In Queensland that’s a lot of money and I had to pay it myself because the union didn’t pay it for me.

‘Since then I have accepted the fact we shouldn’t speak about referees so I’ve got a blanket rule that I don’t speak about referees – I try not to – and I don’t speak about coaches who speak about referees.’

Rassie Erasmus will miss his team’s match against England on Saturday (Picture: Brendan Moran/Getty)

Erasmus has only just served a one-year suspension for releasing a video critiquing Australian referee Nic Berry during last year’s Lions tour.

But Jones added: ‘To me it’s simple. There’s the game, play the game, the referee’s in charge, if he makes mistakes let’s accept it, because that’s our game.

‘If we want to have a contest game, referees are going to make mistakes. If we don’t want a contest, let’s play basketball.’

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