Eddie Jones refuses to twist knife after filleting of Ireland
England coach heaps praise on his players but does not believe result changes much
There might have been a smirk or an unguarded remark. But England’s dominance of Ireland on the pitch at the Aviva stadium made anything other than humility look too much like gloating. On a day Ireland were becalmed, when the wind stopped filling her sails, England manager Eddie Jones blew softly.
“We know they’re a top team, well coached and well drilled,” said Jones. “But our intensity, particularly in the first part of the game, was outstanding. We went in there, we ripped in and probably shaded it a bit in that area.”
A kicking game that was peerless and the expected brute force of powerful England players paid off in spades from Manu Tuilagi and Billy Vunipola to his man of the match brother, Mako. England beat up an Irish team many had thought were impossible to physically unhinge.
“Our players deserve all the credit. They’ve come together in the space of 10 days and played a good game, they did their country proud,” added Jones. “I think the intensity in which we played . . . when you play against Ireland at home you know it’s going be a physical game and we came prepared for that. We executed our game plan well.”
For a man used to polarising a room Jones was on his best behaviour. But any thoughts of Joe Schmidt’s first home defeat to England having any bearing on what would happen later this year at the World Cup in Japan was laid to rest.
“As I said, these games have nothing to do with the World Cup,” said the England coach. “They are standalone games against a very good Ireland side and an improving England team. The next one is going to be better. We’re still growing as a team and we’re nowhere near our best.”
Nor said Jones does the win change any notion of Ireland being the higher ranked side and still one of the best teams in the world. Jones at least believes the world order has not changed.
“I don’t think that changes in one game,” he said of Ireland’s status in World Rugby. “They’ve been consistently good. And you guys are writing it, so it must be true.
“We just wanted to create space. We didn’t know how we were going to take it, but kicking is one way to do it. Again, I’m really pleased for the players. My job is to try and provide an environment for the players to perform and get better. Hopefully we’re doing that. Defensively we can get better. We gave them a little bit in the first half and they took it.”
Jones’s dismissive attitude to the opposition did shine through. Robbie Henshaw playing at fullback was no reason for England to change their tactics or any reason to specifically test Henshaw as an inexperienced fullback at international level. England played the way they wanted to play and nothing Ireland did would change that.
“We’d have played the same way if they had Lance Armstrong there. We would have played the same way,” said Jones. “My job is to create an environment that’s best. The other thing that pleased me in this game is the leadership of the senior players. We kept our composure. Played to the referee as much as we could.”
England captain Owen Farrell pointed to England’s warm-weather training in Portugal as an idea that worked for the team. England flew to Ireland on Thursday, having spent the previous 10 days on the Algarve.
“As we said, the 10 days preparation really fed into that performance,” said Farrell. “I thought the tries came off the back of everything we did, in terms of an all-round performance that was very pleasing.”