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England's mission: 'The ball is in play 32 minutes... and we want to be an impossible team to play against'

By Liam Heagney

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Fresh from a 2020 calendar year that culminated in them being crowned Guinness Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup champions, England will head into the 2021 championship aiming to become an impossible team to play against in matches where the average ball-in-play time is around 32 minutes. 

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Eddie Jones’ side finished out last year on an eight-match unbeaten run and they will look to extend that in a 2021 championship that begins on February 6 with a match at home versus Scotland and will be followed a week later by another Twickenham match versus Italy.

Asked what his targets were for the new year, Jones said: “We don’t have big targets. We have targets for getting better every day. That is our goal. Every day we want to get a little better. Our goal for the tournament is to win the tournament. 

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“There are six teams participating and five are going to be unhappy, one is going to be happy and we want to be that happy team. We want to continually develop our game, make sure we are adapting to the opposition, adapting to the conditions of the game and be an impossible team to play against.”

Asked to elaborate what he meant by impossible, Jones added: “We want to be a team that plays at a level that the other teams can’t compete against. The ball is in play 32 minutes so it is 32 minutes we want to dominate the opposition. 

“That is our goal, to be able to dominate at the set-piece. To be able to dominate at the breakdown. When we get the ball and we use it, we take the ball forward in an effective manner. When we kick we have a great kicking game. When we defend we drive the opposition backwards.”

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There was criticism of England in their last block of fixtures that they were generally dull as an attacking side, but Jones didn’t agree. “I have heard from a lot of people and I see it – before the lockdown, I saw a lot of people that had smiles on their faces. Really pleased about England winning the Six Nations, really pleased about England winning the Eight Nations. So we want to keep putting the smiles on their faces.”

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England's mission: 'The ball is in play 32 minutes... and we want to be an impossible team to play against'

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