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Eddie Jones' 'blatantly honest' claim about Scotland's development

By Liam Heagney
Eddie Jones has plenty to ponder (Photo by David Rogers/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has startingly claimed that Gregor Townsend’s Scotland are “probably two years ahead” of England in terms of their respective squad development. This revelation comes despite the Australian coach heading into this Saturday’s Guinness Six Nations opener fresh from a win over the Springboks, the world champions who defeated the Scots 30-15 at Murrayfield seven days before losing out 27-26 in a Twickenham thriller to Jones’ charges

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While Scotland followed up their pool stage elimination at the 2019 World Cup with a fifth-place 2020 Six Nations finish and fourth spot in the Autumn Nations Cup, Jones guided his World Cup finalists to Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup titles the following year. 

The Scots, though, finished one place ahead of fifth-place England in the 2021 Six Nations and it was only after that disappointment that Jones drew a line in the sand and regenerated his resources by including a raft of newcomers across the five matches they have played since then with a view to having a squad capable of winning the 2023 World Cup in France.

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Scotland, too, have undergone plenty of change with many of their old guard from the 2019 World Cup no longer involved. They managed three wins in last year’s Six Nations and won three out of four matches in November following a Lions tour to South Africa where they enjoyed a generous Scottish representation in Warren Gatland’s squad with Townsend travelling as an assistant.

However, while their current world ranking is only seventh compared to England in third, Jones reckons Townsend has got the jump on him in terms of building for the future. “Scotland went through a tough period initially when we came into the Six Nations under my control,” said Jones recalling his arrival on the championship scene as the England boss in 2016. 

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“The last couple of years they have improved considerably and you can see by the number of players that Gregor has selected for the Lions tour that they have got a lot of good players. If we were to be blatantly honest, they are probably two years ahead of us in terms of development but on the day that doesn’t mean you have got an advantage and we think that with this young but very good team we have got that we can take the challenge to them up there.”

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The weather forecast for Saturday isn’t promising but Jones isn’t dwelling on it. “We don’t look at it as bad conditions, we look at it as the conditions and you don’t take your board shorts and your suntan cream up to Edinburgh for a Six Nations game. If you were going to the Maldives it might be a different matter. 

“We are going to Edinburgh for a Six Nations game so it is a bring your scrummaging mindset, bring your mauling mindset, bring your kick chase mindset, win the gain line and you go a long way towards winning the game. We have got all those bits and pieces in our armoury and we intend to use them and make sure we get on the front foot early against Scotland.”

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