Eddie Jones faces backlash for ‘unfair’ remarks about Emma Raducanu | Emma Raducanu

The England rugby union head coach, Eddie Jones, has attracted a backlash with comments he made about “distractions” affecting Emma Raducanu.

Speaking about the need for young rugby players like Marcus Smith to stay focused on sport, Jones said: “The big thing for good young players is distractions … there’s a reason why the young girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards.”

Failing to mention Raducanu by name, Jones then added: “What have you seen her on – the front page of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar or whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes. All that is a distraction around her.” Raducanu appeared on the cover of Vogue prior to her US Open victory in September.

“It might not be to that degree with Marcus [Smith], but potentially it could be,” Jones added. “He is grounded, but they all start out grounded. No one starts with their feet off the ground … but there are a flood of distractions which can come in.”

The comments prompted criticism on social media, with former British No 1 Jo Durie accusing Jones of sexism: “No one ever complains about blokes going to galas; it’s always something that is thrown at women,” Durie told Telegraph Sport.

“Unfortunately, when you’re this famous, everybody likes to have their opinion about you,” Durie added. “She seems to have a good head on her shoulders and she just needs to play for at least a season and get used to life on the tour before anyone expects anything else from her.”

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The BBC sports presenter Gabby Logan called Jones’ comments “unbelievably unfair and not even remotely comparable … imagine an 18 year old rugby player winning a World Cup having never played a club game.” Logan’s response was endorsed by tennis coach Judy Murray.

Raducanu will play her final tournament of 2021 in Austria at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz this week, where she is the top seed. Speaking before Jones’ comments, she gave her thoughts on being in the public eye.

“I don’t read any of the news or keep in touch with that much,” she said. “I keep myself all quite small and I have a few people that I really trust and I get their opinions. The people that I would ask for their advice, I know pretty well personally.”

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