Rugby: Eddie Jones happy despite England falling short against Ireland

England rugby union hooker and captain Dylan Hartley lifting the Six Nations trophy in Dublin. After losing 9-13 to Ireland, the side remain tied with New Zealand on 18 straight Test wins.
England rugby union hooker and captain Dylan Hartley lifting the Six Nations trophy in Dublin. After losing 9-13 to Ireland, the side remain tied with New Zealand on 18 straight Test wins.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBLIN • England coach Eddie Jones said he blamed himself for a 13-9 defeat by Ireland in Dublin on Saturday that stopped his Six Nations champions from rewriting the record books.

Had England triumphed at a rainswept Lansdowne Road, they would have beaten New Zealand to set a new record of 19 successive Test wins by a leading rugby union nation and become the first team in the Six Nations era to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

But they could not find a way past a resolute Ireland, who finished runners-up to already crowned champions England on points difference.

It was England's first defeat in 18 Tests under Jones and the Australian said: "I'm disappointed and I take full responsibility for the loss today.

"I didn't prepare the team well. I am like everyone else and I make mistakes. We're all human beings and we're not perfect and that's why world records finish at 18 games or 17 games.

"They (Ireland) used the conditions superbly and we probably didn't."

However, Jones - who has revitalised England's fortunes following their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup - was generally happy with the team's overall position and insisted his over-arching goal with them is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"We are 14 months into a four-year project as I have been saying," he said. "We have been chuffed with the results we have had but realism tells us we have still got a lot to do."

In Saturday's other match, Wales coach Rob Howley was left fuming over a controversial substitution and a biting allegation during his team's last-gasp 20-18 defeat by France in Saint-Denis.

France scored a try 20 minutes after the end of normal time to seal victory after a bizarre and chaotic end to the game.

Howley said replacement prop Uini Atonio's substitution by starter Rabah Slimani in stoppage time was unlawful and that there was evidence Welsh winger George North had been bitten.

"The integrity of the game has been brought into disrepute," he told a news conference.

Slimani had earlier been replaced but he was allowed back on when Atonio went off for a head injury assessment.

Separately, North claimed that he was bitten during the closing stages of the match. "I am sure you can ask George if you can have a look at his arm," added Howley.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 20, 2017, with the headline 'Jones happy despite England falling short'. Print Edition | Subscribe