Ex-internationals Andrew Mehrtens and Morgan Turinui have engaged in a spirited debate over Eddie Jones’ now infamous “traitor” exchange with a Wallabies fan.
England coach Jones reacted angrily to the accusation following Saturday’s series-deciding win at the SCG, challenging the supporter to “come here and say that” before security intervened.
Rugby Australia later condemned the “offensive remarks made by spectators” as “unacceptable and not representative of the values of rugby.”
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Eddie Jones’ intense run-in with spectator
Jones told The Sydney Morning Herald that “clowns think they have full go to abuse coaches.”
All Blacks great Mehrtens has an interesting perspective on interactions with rival fans, having infamously given the Loftus Versfeld punters a double fingered salute after kicking the winning drop goal for the Crusaders against the Bulls in 1999.
“I can see it both sides,” Mehrtens said on Stan Sport’s Between Two Posts.
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“I can see why Eddie would get annoyed at that, someone taking a swipe at him. He’s probably never liked that anyway. He likes being in control of the barbs that are flying out, likes them going from him, rather than coming in.
“That’s fine, a lot of coaches like that as well and he was obviously combative.
“There’s obviously stuff in the background, he’s an Australian, he’s coached the Wallabies, he wants to do his best as an international coach who’s obviously not coaching the Wallabies at the moment.
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“So why shouldn’t he go and take his skills wherever he can, but does that mean he’s not patriotic any more? I don’t think so, so he’s bristled at that.
“At the same time, from a very simplistic point of view – you’re an Australian, here’s an Australian coaching against our team.
“And he’s stood there and on the video you see him throw out ‘Strayan, Strayan!’ and he was straight into him. It’s a bit of passion which is nice.”
Turinui, who played for the Wallabies under Jones, had a different take and described the “traitor” sledge as simple “abuse.”
“And there’s a lot of abuse in sport,” Turinui said.
“Do we need it? No. Is barracking part of it? Yes. It’s this old fashioned ‘line’ that we always talk about, it’s so hard to know where it is.
“I found it interesting that it was being filmed, it was like it was set up to try and get a reaction out of Eddie. I would love rugby to evolve past that, I’d love us not to need that in our game. A packed out stadium, two teams going at it.”
But Mehrtens interjected and warned against sport becoming too vanilla.
“At the same time we want to see passion don’t we?” he argued.
“Emotions running high, that’s what it’s all about in sport.”
Turinui had the last word.
“Is that passion?”
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