Eddie Jones didn't miss when he took aim at rugby league this week.

"Rugby league is not a skilful game, it's a game where you've go to hurt people," the England rugby coach told Brisbane's Courier Mail in the lead-up to last night's rugby test with Australia.

Maybe he was just trying to drum up interest in the Brisbane match, and do it at a time when most Aussies in the eastern states are more interested in State of Origin.

All it did for me was hurt me and reinforce age-old stereotypes about league and rugby.


There has been a long-standing perception league is a game for thugs and rugby one for the upper classes. Yes, most league people are proud of their blue-collar roots, but it's the condescension from the high-and-mighty brigade they hate.

The success many players from lower-income families have enjoyed in rugby, many of those Maori or Pacific Islanders, had done a lot to break down those stereotypes.

Jones went a long way to obliterating those advances in one inflammatory sentence.

It was a low blow, particularly as rugby has borrowed so much from league over the years.

A lot of the drills and plays in rugby today have come from league - the second-man plays, the defensive screens and the use of block runners. Rugby has also introduced wrestling into training to help with work at the breakdown.

The All Blacks coaches have a close relationship with Melbourne Storm coach Craig Bellamy. I don't have any problem with that because, as coaches, you're always looking to learn and develop.

I've been involved with both games for some time. I've obviously got a background in league but I've also coached rugby since 2005 and I can tell you both are equally tough and skilful.

Some think the two games are on an inevitable journey to being combined at some stage.

I can't see it. Any hybrid game would only be a gimmick, a marketing tool, and rugby wouldn't allow it to happen given the progress it has made in the international game and the fact it now has the Olympics to promote it further through sevens.

I admit, league doesn't help itself at times with the antics of a minority who drag the game down through drug-taking, drinking and abuse. Rugby, though, is far from clean. Anyone remember the England team's antics at the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand?

For Jones to say league players go out of their way to hurt people shows just how out of touch he is. If anything, league has been sanitised through a tougher judiciary and all-seeing TV cameras.

That's the same Jones, it needs to be remembered, who wasn't allowed to play league at school and who was Australia's national rugby coach when he poached the likes of Wendell Sailor, Lote Tuqiri and Mat Rogers from league when most converts had been going the other way.

And he handed an England debut to New Zealand-born former Maroons forward Ben Te'o last night.

Jones said Sam Burgess was a "non-event" at last year's Rugby World Cup but went on to offer a back-handed comment when he said Burgess would have gone on to become a very good rugby player.

I can hardly wait to hear what he says next.