Several England players phoned head coach Eddie Jones last week to take responsibility for their ill-discipline in the penalty-strewn 40-24 Six Nations defeat by Wales.
Maro Itoje was the chief offender, conceding five penalties, while replacements Ellis Genge, Charlie Ewels and Dan Robson were penalised by referee Pascal Gauzere in the final quarter.
Jones classified five of the 14 penalties England conceded as “avoidable” and subsequently asked his players to take ownership for those offences before they returned home.
The response indicates to Jones that England are on the right track towards fixing their discipline problems when France come to Twickenham on Saturday.
“In any game of rugby, there are penalties you can’t avoid and there are penalties you can avoid,” Jones said. “We worked out that of the 14 penalties, five were avoidable, and we asked the players to reflect if they were those players and then come up with a plan with how they can avoid them in the future.
“I have had at least three or four players ring me during this week to talk about how they need to tend to their errors. That’s the great honesty of this team. If we can get our penalty count down to nine, that gets us in a great position to win.”
Overall, England have conceded 41 penalties in three games, which is on course to be a championship record. Jones denied England had encountered any problems with any particular law interpretation, although they will invite an independent referee to oversee their trainings sessions this week.
With their title defence ending in Cardiff, Jones says England are in a period of transition and predicts only up to 70pc of the current team will go through to 2023 World Cup.
However, those expecting mass changes against France are likely to be disappointed, with Jones insisting he will only blood the new generation when he deems them ready for the rigours of Test rugby.
“When I select a player, I want them to be ready to play and if I don’t think they’re ready to play, just because we’re going through a tough spell at the moment, it’s not a reason to put them in,” Jones said.
“We are working with some of our young guys and we’ve got eyes on a number of other young players, and the team was always going to go through this transition.
“We had a fairly settled team in 2019, 2020, the first part of 2021, and now is the time we need to start changing the team. We’ll do that in an ordered way, we’ve got a plan in place of how we want to keep the team fresh and keep the team moving forward.”
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