Eddie Jones gives little away in sticking by his players after Ireland loss
England head coach praised Irish performance but is confident his side are moving forwards
England’s head coach Eddie Jones looks on during the warm up ahead of the Six Nations match against Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/AFP via Getty Images
It is always about which Eddie Jones is going to show up. After his side’s defeat, would it be Jones the humble, Jones the gracious, Jones the enigmatic? Not quite any.
It was Jones the ‘I won’t say a bad word about this England team and the bare minimum about the Irish team’. Far from humble, a little terse, but in no way Jones the graceless either.
He was asked if there was anything about the way Ireland played that was a surprise to him today.
“Ah, no we thought they’d come pretty hard and through the front door, mate,” he said. “Given the previous results between the teams, we knew they wanted to settle the physical stakes particularly so we knew they’d come hard, we thought they’d kick a lot, which they did so...they did it very well mate.”
So, did Ireland get their tactics right against you today?
“Yeah, yeah the scoreboard indicates that,” he pointed out.
Is there a disconnect between the England team and fans at this stage?
“Well, I don’t think that’s the case. I don’t know what you are talking about,” he added.
On social media and WhatsApp groups, there’s a generally negativity around this England team.
“I don’t know mate. I can’t comment on it.”
A few months ago you were talking about the Lions and said you want 20 players on that tour. Is that still the case?
“Well I’m not sure mate. I’m not in control of that.”
And so it went with the irascible England coach. He wasn’t going to be led down any path that he didn’t want to travel. England, he said, were a team going though transition. In short they had consistency difficulties, nothing more than that.
“Maybe what we are missing at the moment is consistency in performance,” said Jones. “We showed against France that we can play at a very high level. And we just lost that consistency. It can sometimes happen to a team and we are experiencing that now. But we will get that back.
“We thought we started well. The first 20 minutes was a bit of nip and tuck. Then a couple of things went well and we allowed that to get to us and we dropped out intensity off. Ireland took advantage of that and established a winning lead.
“Tribute to my team. They are honest. They work hard, came back into the game, fought hard when things were difficult. Congratulations to Ireland, they were too good for us on the day.”
There then followed a suggestion that this England team not alone are not improving and moving forwards, but on the strength of the performance against Ireland might be going in the opposite direction.
“Oh no a lot of positive things in the game,” said Jones. “It was a difficult game for us. But we still know where we are going. Disappointed as I am with the result, we still know where we are going and we’ll continue that in a positive fashion.”