Mike Brown has placed Eddie Jones’ man-management under scrutiny after claiming he was on the receiving end of a foul-mouthed rant from England’s head coach when being told he was not going to the 2019 World Cup.
Brown was involved in a bust-up with Ben Te’o during a training camp in Treviso in the build-up to the tournament and, for the first time, has spoken at length about the matter.
The incident took place when the squad were out for a social event and Jones used the altercation to explain his decision to drop two regulars of his England reign ahead of the tournament in Japan.
Brown blames Te’o, claiming the former rugby league center punched him in the head, but insists an angry Jones reacted badly when the Newcastle veteran pleaded his case.
“That wasn’t the reason why I didn’t go to the World Cup,” Brown, England’s most capped full-back, told RugbyPass.
“I think it was just easier for Eddie to put it on that, as I’d kind of been getting pushed out of the team as that season had gone on.
“Then a few days later, when Eddie’s ringing around people to say they’re not involved, he kind of puts it on that.
“I said to him, ‘Look, I understand selection is what it is, but don’t put it on that. You haven’t even asked me what happened. With all due respect, I didn’t really do anything. I don’t feel like it was my fault. I hadn’t drunk much, two drinks or whatever. There were people in a worse state than me and I was just trying to mind my own business’.
“So he just switched and turned on me, effing and blinding. It wasn’t nice.
“Just be a man and say what is the reason I’m not getting picked. Don’t try to put it on that, because it’s not that. It’s pretty clear and obvious that it’s not that.
“I asked him to tell me what he thinks happened and he said, ‘My security guards were there, they told me what happened’.
“I said, ‘Let me see what they’ve said has happened’, because he said he had written reports. He wouldn’t give me that.
“He said, ‘Who the F do you think you are?’ because I was going back at him and he doesn’t like that.
“It’s a shame it ended up like that. I wanted clarity on why I wasn’t getting picked, not some made-up excuse.”
Brown has given extensive details surrounding the incident, claiming it initially started when Maro Itoje started hitting other players on the chest – “in a fun, jovial way, but he’s a big guy and he’d been drinking”.
Brown objected when he was struck and, having spoken to Itoje, thought it was over, only for Te’o to start taunting him and create a fresh confrontation that eventually ended with the punch.
The allegations come at a bad time for Jones, who recently presided over another failed Six Nations campaign that led to a vote of confidence from the Rugby Football Union.
The RFU and Itoje’s club Saracens have been contacted for comment by the PA news agency.
Jones is currently in Japan, where he acts as director of rugby to Suntory Sungoliath, despite the fact that many of his England players are involved in a key period of European matches.