Under-fire England boss Eddie Jones came out fighting after his team’s latest bruising 2021 Guinness Six Nations defeat, claiming there were multiple good things evident in their performance in Dublin and that his players are still fully listening to his instructions.
England fell to an insipid 32-18 defeat in Dublin, trailing 20-6 at the interval and only coming back into it with late tries following the 64th-minute red carding of Ireland midfielder Bundee Aki.
It was England’s third loss in their five-match campaign and it saw them drop to fifth on the table, their worst finish since 2018. Jones, though, was adamant that it had not been all doom and gloom for his team at Aviva Stadium and that this latest defeat was no evidence that he had lost his ability to motivate his players.
“A lot of positive things in the game,” he insisted in the aftermath. “It was a difficult game for us, but we still know where we are going. As disappointed as I am with the result, we still know where we are going and we will continue in a positive fashion.
“Most definitely,” he added when asked if the players were fully supportive of what he is trying to do with a team that reached the 2019 World Cup final and lifted Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup titles in 2002. “I don’t think that is the issue. If it was the issue I wouldn’t be coaching the team.”
Sit back and enjoy, @IrishRugby fans! ??
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 20, 2021
Reflecting on the game in Dublin where England went 3-0 ahead and were then held up short for a try before losing their way, Jones continued: “It’s a difficult one. We thought we started well, the first 20 minutes was a bit of nip and tuck and then a couple of things went against us and we allowed that to get to us.
“We dropped our intensity off and Ireland took advantage and established a winning lead. Tribute to my team that they are honest, they work hard, they came back in the game, fought hard when things were difficult. We congratulate Ireland. They were too good for us on the day.
“The main thing we are missing at the moment is consistency in performance. We showed against France we can play at a very high level and we have just lost that consistency which sometimes happens to a team and we are experiencing that now but we will get that back.
“It’s just our consistency to apply pressure. We started the game well, we knew what we had to do. It was a different sort of game to the French game which had a lot of ball movement, a lot of space.
“This was always going to be one of those tight, attritional games. We started well and then we let a few things disappoint us and it allowed Ireland to get on the front foot… look, we need to assess where we are going. We are going through a transition period in the team and this is almost the natural time for that to happen, two years before a World Cup.
“We thought they [Ireland] would come pretty hard through the front door. Given the previous results between the teams we knew that they wanted to settle the physical stakes particularly and we thought they would come hard, we thought they would kick a lot which they did and they did it very well. They did their tactics right, the scoreboard indicates that.”
Quizzed on whether there was a disconnect currently between this England team and its fanbase, especially in the wake of Jones’ ‘rat poison’ comment aired towards the media on Thursday, the coach replied: “I don’t think that is the case, mate, I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t know mate. I can’t comment.”
Not so long ago, Jones was vocal about wanting 20 of his players chosen for the upcoming Lions tour. What about that boast now? “I’m not sure mate, I’m not in control of that.”
There are now huge questions about the credibility of this England team and the over-reliance of Eddie Jones on a plethora of his favourite players who haven’t been putting it in #SixNations #IREvENGhttps://t.co/Q3pSQpGijV
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 20, 2021
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