Tackling rugby union’s reliance on private schools


The England rugby union coach, Eddie Jones, has clearly ruffled the feathers of the Rugby Football Union with his remarks about the consequences of his sport’s “reliance on the private school system” (Report, 9 August), but it is indisputable that the English game has been rooted in elitism throughout its existence. A key factor in the establishment of what became rugby league in 1895 was a concern that certain northern clubs’ success on the field arose from their inclusion of “working men”. The ex-public schoolboys of the rugby establishment could never accept this in the 19th century and Jones confirms, perhaps, that not a lot has changed since.

Rugby union has adopted many rules to make it closer to league on the field but, in terms of inclusivity and basic values, it still remains way behind what many in that sport still regard as its bastard offspring.