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'You never put it to bed': Eddie Jones on the scar of England's 13-month-old World Cup final loss to the Springboks

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

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Eddie Jones has revisited the nightmare of last year’s World Cup final loss, suggesting that the scar of defeat never gets fully put to bed and explaining how that loss has influenced the England preparation this week for Sunday’s Autumn Nations Cup decider versus France.


Having eliminated the All Blacks, the defending champions in the World Cup semi-finals, England were hotly tipped to lift the trophy 13 months ago in Yokohama only to have their hopes and dreams crushed by a Springboks side that saved its best performance in the Far East for their final match.

It was the second occasion that Jones was on the losing side in the final, having previously been coach of the Wallabies who were beaten in the 2003 World Cup final, and the pain of losing is never totally erased. 

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“Probably every day,” he said when asked how often does he think of the 32-12 defeat for England which greatly upset the form book. “When you lose a big final like that it stays with you for a long time. 

“It doesn’t go away and you reflect and you think I should have done that, would that have made a difference? And then you consistently hear the criticism of what you have done which drives you a little bit more and you have got to learn from it.

“If you don’t learn from it you don’t get another opportunity to play in the final. We have a great opportunity this week to show we have learned from the World Cup final and we’re absolutely blessed that within 13 months to be able to have the opportunity to play in a final again.”


Beating France won’t close that World Cup wound, though. “You never put it to bed,” he continued. “The result is what it is. We weren’t good enough in that World Cup final and even if you win the next World Cup it never puts to bed that final, it stays with you. 

“And that is what drives you in wanting to keep on getting better. In any sport, you are in a cycle of success and failure and you know that as soon as you had success, failure is sitting next to you and when you’re in a failure period, you have success sitting next to you. There is always an opportunity there.” 

Asked if there was anything he had learned from the build-up to the decider in Yokohama that he has this week tried to fix ahead of England’s latest final, Jones reflected: “What we have noticed as a team is in retrospect we probably didn’t attack the week like we normally do. 

“For the World Cup week we were probably more content about getting through the week and this week we have had a real focus about attacking the game, where can we improve the game. It has been a great learning week for us. That has been a bit of a mindset change. 


“There are two teams in the final, there is always the favourites and there’s always the underdogs and the favourites usually come into the final on good form and sometimes this is subconscious, it’s not a conscious decision, sometimes you think we’re just going to continue that but in sport, the reality is there is no just continuing.

“You can miss out a week’s preparation. I don’t know whether that is right for our World Cup final but that is one of the things we are hypothesising and we have had a big attempt this week to attack the week, not sit back to see to where we can improve our game.” 


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