Former England star Austin Healey has hit out at suggestions Eddie Jones was partly to blame for his treatment at the hands of Scottish rugby fans at Manchester train station.
He wrote in the Daily Telegraph : “I find the suggestion utterly bizarre that Eddie Jones is fair game for the kind of treatment he received at a Manchester station because of the comments he might make in the build-up to a match.
“Those are purely mind games with the opposition to get an upper hand. He is not trying to abuse a member of the public. People who say that he gets what he deserves are talking complete rubbish.
“It is also happening more and more, where people think they have a right to those involved in top-level sport, a right to treat you differently than if you were another human being: a builder or an accountant or a dentist or anybody.
VIDEO EXCLUSIVE: England coach Eddie Jones being verbally abused as he arrived in Manchester on Sunday after rail journey from Edinburgh. Disgusting after he was good enough to pose for photos. Now says doesn’t feel safe on public transport. (Warning: contains offensive language) pic.twitter.com/z2RetgKZOG
— Dan Roan (@danroan) March 1, 2018
“And I think Twitter and social media have had a big part to play in situations like the one Jones experienced on Sunday.
“You end up being treated completely differently. People go onto social media for example and abuse you thinking that it is OK. And the problem with that is it then transcends into real life.”
He added: “Overall, there is still a degree of separation between football’s and rugby’s individual relationships with supporters, but the gap between the two sports is closing.
“Football fans pay a lot of money to watch their club and feel that they own you, which perhaps is true to a certain extent. However when you get opposition fans behaving that way it just seems completely ridiculous.
“As an individual such as Jones, if you are asked for a picture it now becomes difficult. You might reply: “Would you mind if I didn’t?”
“The big question is, would those four men have behaved that way to a hulking prop such as Joe Marler? Or one of the Vunipola brothers? Would they heck.”