By Ali Stokes
A fall from grace for England head coach Eddie Jones has culminated in a pantomime- style booing at the Ricoh Arena last weekend, with Wasps fans showing there to be no love lost between themselves and the man currently in charge of their national side.
Whether you condemn the act of Saturday's booing or find yourself empathetic towards the foreboding reaction to the Australian's sudden materialisation on the Ricoh's newly installed gargantuan screen, it is clear for all to see that fans are feeling more disdain for Eddie Jones than ever before.
Former Fiji and England Sevens coach Ben Ryan took to Twitter to condemn the fans' reaction to Jones' appearance last weekend.
In addition to Wasps' frustration following the freak, career-ending injury suffered by flanker Sam Jones whilst practising judo on England duty and the recent revelation that fan favourite Christian Wade has taken the decision to try his hand in the NFL after receiving no love from another England regime, fans from across the Premiership are also voicing their enmity towards the 58-year-old.
When a poll was posted on Twitter following the unusually patchy start to Brad Shields' Wasps career thus far, the former Hurricanes captain - who stands in pole position to replace the injured Chris Robshaw on England's blindside - came dead last in fans' preferences.
With Saracens South African-born, uncapped flanker Michael Rhodes taking a substantial 38% of the vote, it's plain to see fans are far from being aligned with Jones' selection decisions.
For the public to prefer an unknown quantity at Test level over a man to have narrowly missed out on an All Blacks cap and captained one of Super Rugby's most successful sides in recent years, the relationship from supporter to head coach has hit an all-time low. A venomous marriage.
Poor public perception
So who has the right of things? The head coach currently in a tight spot after a downward spiral following a stellar first year that yielded a Grand Slam and 3-0 tour of Australia? Or the fans that convey the impression of having lost their patience with the Tasmanian-born coach?
While decisions such as handing Shields his England debut in the second row and continued exclusion of Premiership stars Don Armand and Danny Cipriani has even the most informed and analytical pundits discombobulated, there is much to be said over some of Jones' other unpopular selection decisions.
One area Jones has copped copious levels of undue hostility has been the implementation of his 'apprentice' scheme. In little over two seasons in charge, Jones has included an extensive list of players with the now famous or infamous (depending on your preference) asterisk next to their names, to mark them as junior squad members.
While the more well-known apprentices such as Harlequins star fly-half Marcus Smith and Bath's all action winger Joe Cokanasiga - both 18 years of age upon initial squad inclusion - have gone on to prove their worth and win the fans' favour, players such as Worcester blindside Ted Hill have seen their inclusions met with a certain level of contempt by some.
Alongside Hill, Saracens Academy products Nathan Earle (wing) and Ben Earl (openside) have seen their inclusions met with antipathy when held alongside the subsequent exclusions of Wade, Armand and Cipriani.
The answer here seems to lie in the flawed logic of those to have bemoaned the relative lack of young talent coming through the English system at Test level when compared to fellow home nation Ireland, who recently unearthed the likes of James Ryan, Tadhg Furlong and Gary Ringrose, to name a few.
The regular feature of certain young players within England's senior squad seems to be a step in the right direction when it comes to grooming the next generation of English Test talent to rival Ireland's recent gold rush and the likes of the untouchable All Blacks, who can't seem to throw a stone without hitting a Barrett, Savea or Ioane brother.
The question begs, would fans, pundits and ex-pros still criticise the big name exclusions if the national side were chugging along as successfully as any of the other home nations? And more to the point, should Jones be turning to players proven at Premiership and European level whilst his side are in such a significant rut?
A difficult question for anyone to claim to have the answer for when similar selection policies saw England storm to such success in 2016 and Jones' pedigree when it comes to spotting talent. Just ask Matt Giteau, George and Marcus Smith.
A more comprehensible issue to highlight is Jones' public attitude, often rubbing opposing nations and media types up the wrong way with various soundbites intended as either mind games for his adversaries or messages of support/motivation for his own players.
Jones hits out at English media over criticism of fullback Mike Brown last year.
The relevance of such situations is that, truly, less than 50 people around the world are qualified to label Jones' methods and outward demeanour as right or wrong, and even then much comes down to personal preference.
One thing we do know for certain is that Jones has brought much of the hostility upon himself, such is the nature of possessions such a fractious disposition. An issue intensified by the recent results.
Any frustrations left hidden beneath the surface while everything came up Eddie Jones early in his tenure were dredged up once results turned sour to join the ranks of his already public detractors.
But at what point does a coach have to turn from - or at least significantly adjust - their methods and selection policies? At first, Jones received metaphoric pats on the back for wanting to return England to their strengths of old, a strong set-piece and a batch of forwards to suit the desired bulldog mentality.
Such favour has since turned sour, with regular injuries to the powerhouse quartet of Mako and Billy Vunipola, Ben Te'o and Manu Tuilagi significantly hampering England's ability to exercise their physically dominant game and latterly failing to evolve his team at the same rate as his counterparts across the Northern Hemisphere.
Should a national coach strive to become more amiable? Another man to have suffered a lack of love from his public at times is Welsh head coach Warren Gatland.
The three times British and Irish Lions coach is currently enjoying a certain level of appreciation from the masses after a drawn Lions tour of New Zealand and an entertaining brand of rugby during the latest Six Nations campaign.
The phrase 'Warren Ball' or 'Gatland Ball' became a synonym for a limited, one track game plan that had more than its fair share of detractors.
However, like Jones, Gatland stuck to his guns - albeit much quieter, less aggressing guns - winning the affections of the British and Irish when at first his appointment was met with discontentment. Ironically, many fans were calling for Jones to take up the Lions role prior to Gatland's appointment. A drastically reversed public perception.
When fans were posed with the question of whether Jones deserves his mass criticisms, a running theme within the replies consisted of his less than affluent nature. Arrogant, belligerent, obstinate; all terms used to describe the Red Rose boss.
Aside from Jones' prickly attitude, the recent injury toll within England training camps has provided his detractors with additional ammunition, whilst swelling their ranks with frustrated club fans stripped of their star players for significant periods.
With the public spat between Jones and Bath Rugby owner Bruce Craig intensifying the spotlight placed on Jones' in-camp attrition rate standing as a prime example.
Former Gloucester and British and Irish Lions forward, Steve Boyle, spoke on Twitter joining many a fan in voicing his concern over the attenuating nature of the national side's training camps.
While Jones' demeanour and selection policies are likely criticised too readily by most, the number of squad members sustaining substantial injuries within a well-reported intense training regime is without question a worrying affair.
The underlying problem
The volume of high profile/severity of injuries are a mere byproduct of what appears to be the most poignant concern surrounding Jones' regime. An unwillingness to bend his methods both in his approach to the game itself and his relationship/expectations of his retainers is as an underlying theme that has presented itself for some time.
Sources close to the current England team tell a story of current players losing favour in Jones' intense training methods; a narrative that has repeated itself.
Ahead of the 2015 Rugby World Cup, Jones' Japanese squad was fraught with discontent over the Australian's brutal preparation in the build-up to the tournament.
Further light has been shone on the way England's coaches are treated behind closed doors. One coach to have recently worked with Jones described his tenure as "an experience" but that they "wouldn't work with him again".
This considerable workload for both players and coaches and Jones' aversion to compensation seems to be the root cause of the most significant issues plaguing the current England regime.
Jones' attitude, soundbites and selection policies attract the inevitable detractors that equate to little value at the end of the day, but the added pressures of injuries, demanding standards and recent failures magnifies the chagrin.
Whether you consider the booing of head coach in Coventry last Saturday as acceptable or deplorable, Jones will simply have to put up with the fact that within professional sport, such unpleasant moments are a consequence of his management style.
While as outsiders, we viewers can only hope that the appointment of the strong-willed New Zealander John Mitchell - who was recently appointed as England's new defence coach - can find some way of curbing Jones' risk of running his players and staff into the ground.