Eddie Jones was in waspish form following Saturday’s shock defeat for England in the Guinness Six Nations, issuing some snappy replies when asked about his selection, his team’s style of play and whether he was concerned over the lack of fluency in an attack which failed to score a single try against Scotland.

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England were heavily backed to open their 2021 title defence in winning fashion against an opposition that had not won a match at Twickenham since 1983. 

However they failed to fire and Jones was irritable when quizzed in the aftermath on his team’s failings, his snappy answers including ‘everyone is a good selector after the game’, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about mate’, and ‘I think I just gave the explanation’.

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That crankiness aside, England coach Jones was also full of praise for Scotland whom he congratulated heartily for their win having questioned on Thursday whether they would possess the bottle to hold their nerve coming down the finishing straight.        

“A (wet) day like that, set-piece is always going to be important,” said Jones in the aftermath of the unexpected 6-11 England defeat. “The contest in the air is going to be important, the gain line is going to be important and we couldn’t win any of those areas. We just seemed to be a yard off the pace and I have to blame myself, I didn’t prepare the team well enough.  

“The players play the game but sometimes you have those days and we had one today. I thought Scotland played very well. They had a particular game plan which they stuck to, executed really well. They had enormous possession in the first half, big penalty count, we have only got ourselves to blame for the discipline issue and it’s just one of those days. 

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“We can’t look at any of those factors, we are not even considering that,” he added regarding whether the absence of a partisan home crowd at the behind closed doors fixture was also a negative. “As I said, we are grateful for the opportunity to play rugby, we’re grateful to play a tough game against Scotland and congratulations to Scotland, they were too good for us today.”

Jones hinted that his five-strong Saracens contingent in his XV having a long nine-week winter break in between matches could possibly have affected the England performance. “Maybe it wasn’t the ideal preparation, but it is what it is and we have got to be good enough to be able to cope with it.”

But he was brusque when it was put to him that he had maybe got his selection wrong because of it. “Everyone is a good selector after the game. I’m sure you’re a good selector after the game,” he retorted. 

Questioned on the low key contribution of skipper Owen Farrell at out-half, he continued: “The first half was had 25 per cent possession, I haven’t seen the second half stats but I don’t think it would be much higher than that. We had no ball so when you’re playing 10 with no ball it’s difficult.”

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That was followed by a query on the limited involvement of Ollie Lawrence at inside centre. “I think I just gave the explanation,” he batted back. “You have only got 25 per cent possession and some of that possession is probably deep in your own 22, which it was.

“Then if you have got numbers 10 to 15 on your back it’s very difficult to get him the ball and that was the case today. That was a game that probably goes back to a very traditional England-Scotland game. 

“It was about set-piece, it was about winning the small battles around the gain line, it was about winning the ball in the air when it was kicked and we got beaten in all those areas so the backs in those situations become almost secondary unfortunately and that’s the way the game is.”

Asked further whether he was generally concerned about a lack of fluency in attack, Jones said: “I think I just answered that mate, do you want me to go over the stats again? We had first half 25 per cent possession, in the second half I don’t think we had much more, so when you have got that it is very difficult to attack. 

“I have already said it was one of those days, mate. Unfortunately, it wasn’t good. As I said, I didn’t get my preparation right. We didn’t play well so when we don’t play well enough it’s the responsibility of the coach and so we’ll start working on the Italy preparation from tomorrow. We have got to put this game behind us and get on with it. 

“You never atone for a game like this, this stays with you for a long time. The most important thing is we get together, we find a way to improve our performance, play like England does against Italy next week.”

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