Thursday 25 April 2019

Eddie Jones warns some players may not turn out for England again after Ireland defeat

England head coach Eddie Jones
England head coach Eddie Jones

Mick Cleary

England’s 24-15 defeat to Ireland, their third championship loss in a row, prompted Eddie Jones to warn his squad that some of them may not make it to the 2019 World Cup.

It is England’s worst run since 2006. France’s losing bonus point in their 14-13 loss to Wales in Cardiff consigned England to a fifth-place finish in the 2018 NatWest Six Nations Championship, their lowest position since 1983.

Jones acknowledged Ireland’s achievement in securing only the third Grand Slam in their history, but was at pains to point out that England’s fall from grace was misleading in that he had never believed his team were as good as their record (23 wins in 24 Tests prior to this losing sequence) had suggested. Jeers rang around Twickenham at the final whistle.

England have a three-Test tour in South Africa and it is clear there will be changes. “Some (players) may struggle to participate in the future,” said Jones, who experienced his first ever defeat at Twickenham as England coach.

“There are some guys who are starting their international careers and they need time. I have to decide whether I have time to get them ready for the World Cup.

“We weren’t happy being the team we were because we knew whatever we had won (in terms of previous results) we weren’t good enough to get to where we wanted to get. We knew we had to change and sometimes that hurts. It’s not nice but it is part of the process of being a better team.

“You never find out about yourself unless you have these runs. When you take over it is quite easy to improve because you can fix things quickly. But internal mechanisms take time to fix. Unless you fix them they catch up with you when you get to the big tournaments, such as the World Cup. So for us it has been an enormously beneficial tournament, if disappointing.”

England were always ‘chasing tails’, as Jones put it, after Garry Ringrose scored the first of Ireland’s three tries in the sixth minute. Wing Jacob Stockdale touched down on the stroke of half-time for his seventh try in the tournament, a Six Nations record. The 21-year-old got his hand to the ball with only inches to spare. England had (legally) extended the in-goal area for this match. Jones did not feel that this had backfired on England.

“Not really, it’s just part of the game,” said Jones who had not been aware of the boos. “I didn’t hear it. Have you got a recording of it? I’ll listen to it later. It’ll help put me to sleep tonight.”

Jones rejected the notion that England have regressed during the championship. “I don’t think we have,” he added. “In terms of results, we have, but in terms of where we want to go as a team, we are moving forward. I know that is hard to see. These things are sent to test you, it tests your resolve, it tests your team and that is what we are going through at the moment.”

For Ireland, there was understandable joy, especially for captain Rory Best, one of only two survivors (Rob Kearney was the other) from their last Grand Slam in 2009. “It is a little more special for me, not only starting every game but captaining the side,” said Best. “To win something as captain, in that special green jersey, is something dreams are made of. This is up there as the biggest highlight of my career.”

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