Emma Raducanu is set to skip the Rugby Football Union’s open invitation to attend an England match this autumn, the Guardian understands, despite Eddie Jones expressing his hope that “we’ll see her at Twickenham shortly”.
Jones revealed on Thursday that he had personally sent Raducanu a letter to clarify comments he made about the trappings of fame, which provoked a furious backlash and led to the England head coach being accused of sexism. It is understood, however, that while Raducanu has an open invitation to Twickenham from the RFU, she is not expected at either Saturday’s match against Australia or the one against South Africa a week later.
Earlier this week, Jones was criticised for using Raducanu’s perceived loss of form after her sensational US Open victory as a warning to Marcus Smith – who has been selected to start at fly-half against Australia – over the dangers of off-field distractions. Jones did not mention Raducanu by name, referring to her as “the young girl”, which was interpreted by some of his critics as a sexist comment.
Jones insisted, however, that “was never the aim” and reiterated his initial warning, stating that it is a trap numerous young England players have fallen into. He told the BBC: “The whole point was how difficult it is for young players to cope with distractions. So the point I made was not wrong. I can’t control if it’s taken out of context. There was no criticism of Emma. I have sent her a letter just to reinforce that and hopefully we’ll see her at Twickenham shortly.
“I don’t have any misgivings about what I said – I am disappointed it was taken out of context, and I would be disappointed if Emma was upset by it. It was deemed as being sexist and that was never the aim of the point.”
Asked if he was aware of the furore his comments created, or had any regrets, Jones added: “I don’t know what was said. I haven’t read it, so if you can enlighten me, I would be happy to discuss it. The point was that it is very difficult for young players in the UK. That was the point and I made that point for a reason because I think it is.
“We have a really good group of players coming through with England and I want to make sure we look after them as well as we can. So many good young players come in and get swept away by all the distractions. We don’t want them to be distracted and that was the only purpose of that comment. I can’t comment about anything else.”