Eddie Jones: England head coach apologises to reporter after 'half-Asian' joke
England head coach was speaking ahead of Sunday's match against Ireland at Twickenham
By PA Media
Last Updated: 20/02/20 5:23pm
Eddie Jones has apologised to a journalist after making an "off-the-cuff" joke relating to racism at an England press conference on Thursday.
Jones was asked by a reporter about his meditation practices having revealed in June last year that he engages in mindfulness as part of his early morning routine.
In a clumsy response that was intended as a joke and delivered with a smile, Jones said: "I don't think I've ever spoken about meditation.
"You must be thinking about someone else... Maybe another half-Asian person... Maybe we all look the same."
Those assembled in the room were aghast at the ill-advised comment despite its context.
A private apology was later sought by the reporter who posed the question and Jones duly said sorry, shaking hands.
A Rugby Football Union spokesman said: "Eddie made an off-the-cuff comment during the press conference which was not intended to cause any offence.
"He has subsequently spoken to the journalist privately explaining this and apologised which was accepted."
Immediately before being queried about meditation, Jones was asked about what steps are taken to look after the mental health of his players given the power of social media in the wake of the suicide of Love Island presenter Caroline Flack.
"That's a very interesting question. Obviously I've read and listened to some stuff on the girl and feel sorry for her family and thoughts are with the family," Jones said.
"In terms of our players we try to take a balanced approach. Obviously social media is an important part of today's society.
"To some players it's massively important, for other players it's not important. It's more of an individual way of looking after each player as well as we can."
Jones' crass joke is the latest comment from the Australian to come under scrutiny during the ongoing Six Nations campaign.
His use of the word "brutal" caused upset in France due to its connotations with violence when translated, and it hardly helped England's cause as they left Paris with a comprehensive 24-17 defeat.
A week later he described Scotland as a "niggly" team due to the tactics they employed to unsettle the English at Murrayfield.
Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll this week described Jones as a "scaremonger" who oversteps the mark, although he added that he is always fascinated by his rhetoric.
England face Ireland at Twickenham on Sunday needing victory to remain in title contention.