Eddie Jones (right) has criticised Emma Raducanu for her off-court activities
England head coach Eddie Jones is under fire for “nasty” comments he made about US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
The boss used the tennis star as an example of how newly-found fame can distract from sporting success when saying he doesn’t want fly-half Marcus Smith to get caught up in the hype surrounding him.
Raducanu defied odds and won the US Open without dropping a set in September and has since lost two and won two matches.
Jones said: “The big thing for young players is distractions. Distractions can be the exposure they get in the media, the praise and criticism they get, groups of agents who see this guy as the next big thing.
“There’s a reason why the girl who won the US Open hasn’t done so well afterwards. What have you seen her on? The front page of Vogue, the front page of Harper’s Bazaar, whatever it is, wearing Christian Dior clothes.
“He is grounded, but they all start off grounded. No one starts with their feet off the ground or they don’t get in the team, or they don’t win a US Open. But there’s this flood of distractions that comes in that makes you ungrounded.”
The Vogue front page Jones references was published before her US Open win.
Fans have taken to social media to slam the head coach, with one labelling it a “cheap shot”.
“Extremely harsh from Eddie Jones here,” one supporter said. “Firstly, she’s called Emma Raducanu. And secondly, Marcus Smith hasn’t just won a major title. 28 minutes of exciting rugby in an Autumn series isn’t the same league as winning a grand slam, she’s entitled to enjoy it.”
Another added: “What a cheap shot, from a cheap coach. He should be ashamed, but he won’t be.”
And a third said: “Emma Raducanu, a school girl goes from 343 in world rankings to 21, reached the quarter-finals of her last competition whilst only playing a few tournaments on tour. She even won her first GS (Grand Slam) before even winning on the WTA circuit. Nasty comments about a successful teenager.”
A number of people have come out in support of Raducanu with sports presenter Gabby Logan saying: “unbelievably unfair and not even remotely comparable.
“She is 18 in her first 6 months of being pro she made the second week of Wimbledon and won US Open having never played on the tour. Imagine an 18 year old rugby player winning a World Cup having never played a club game.”
Judy Murray replied: “Beautifully put Gabby”.
It is a measure of the speed and trajectory of the teenager’s rise to fame that every decision she makes is treated with great importance, but Raducanu is happy to let it all wash over her.
Speaking before Jones’ comments were made public, she said: “I don’t read any of the news or keep in touch with that much.
“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. I do speak to some other people, some past champions.”
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