Entertainment the name of the game for Eddie Jones and England

England coach Eddie Jones believes rugby union is destined to deliver more highly entertaining Tests, akin to Saturday’s 23-20 Six Nations win over France, as the sport’s authorities need them.
Putting on a show: England head coach Eddie Jones. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.Putting on a show: England head coach Eddie Jones. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.
Putting on a show: England head coach Eddie Jones. Picture: David Davies/PA Wire.

Admittedly, there had been a dearth of anything resembling such play from his side in the Autumn Nations Cup and a dismal Six Nations opener defeat against Scotland. Flashes were shown against Wales last month but they ultimately lost and questions were raised about Jones’s tenure.

However, even if they needed a pick and drive try from Maro Itoje as late as the 76th minute to prevent them from losing a third game in this Championship, England did refreshingly deliver plenty of adventure against France.

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Their opponents were thrilling at times, too, in an enthralling game. Jones has regularly insisted it is not England’s job to entertain but, asked, if he thinks more matches will follow this pattern leading into the 2023 World Cup, he conceded: “I think that’s the drive for where World Rugby wants the game to be.

“There’s such competition for sport at the moment that nearly every sport in the world is moving towards being more entertaining.

“And, so, the law interpretations are encouraging teams to play in what might be deemed a more entertaining way. We sensed that post World Cup and always had in mind we’d keep developing our ability to attack with the ball in hand – passing and running – but still have our attritional set-piece game to fall back on.”

Having ended France’s Grand Slam hopes revived England will hope to finish with a flourish in Dublin on Saturday. On his squad’s long-term aims, Jones said: “We’re aiming to get that game where we can win it through the set-piece or our kicking or our ability to move the ball at pace. We’re trying to get that balance right and this is a bit of a transition the team’s going through. We just have to keep at it as we have a plan in place where we want to be by the World Cup.”

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After criticism was levelled at him in the media and on social media following the indisciplined loss in Cardiff, captain Owen Farrell was towering at Twickenham.

Jones said: “He hasn’t whinged; he took it on the chin, got on with it and fixed his game. He was back to that belligerent, aggressive self and we basically made a decision on the referee where we would let him do whatever he wanted. No queries, no questions.”

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