Eddie Jones insists England are ‘moving forward’ despite Ireland defeat

• England coach remains upbeat despite third successive loss
• ‘A run like this tests your resolve, your purpose and your team’

England slumped to their third successive defeat and their lowest position in the Six Nations for 12 years as Ireland became only the second side to secure a grand slam at Twickenham since France in 1981, but Eddie Jones insists his side is moving forward.

Jones enjoyed 24 victories in his first 25 Tests after taking over as head coach from Stuart Lancaster after the 2015 World Cup, a run he puts down to implementing quick fixes. “We knew during that run that we were not good enough to reach where we wanted to get to,” he said. “A run like the one we are going through is instrumental to the development of a team. It was easy to improve England initially, fixing this and that, but internal mechanisms, such as developing leaders, are slow burners.

“It is part of the process of becoming a better team. We are moving forward, even if results do not show that. A run like this tests your resolve, your purpose and your team. That is what we are going through at the moment. I thought our effort against Ireland was outstanding. The players stuck at it but the other team was too good. They are a tough, well coached side with good leadership and they played exceptionally well.”

It was Ireland’s third grand slam after 1948 and 2009 and it was not in doubt from the sixth-minute when Garry Ringrose scored the first of their three tries as they assembled a 16-point lead at the interval.

“It was a ferocious match and words cannot describe what it feels like to win,” said the Ireland captain, Rory Best, a member of the 2009 squad. “We talked before the game about making every moment count and the grand slam is the reward for the massive effort put in by everybody. It is a bit more special than the last time because I started every game.

“We have a really tight-knit, special bunch. We knew we had to target the first game in Paris and go from there. After 75 minutes, we looked dead and buried in Paris having controlled the game. That drop goal from Johnny [Sexton] was magic and the reward was the grand slam.”

The Ireland head coach, Joe Schmidt, who has masterminded three Six Nations titles in five years, said the best was still to come from a side that was won their last 11 Tests. “We have a number of young players and they will only get better. Youthful exuberance is being tempered by experience and that blend is working well for us,” he added.


Paul Rees at Twickenham

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