England need setbacks to be better: Jones

LONDON • Eddie Jones said England's losing streak was a necessary part of their development ahead of the World Cup after a third straight defeat saw Ireland clinch a Grand Slam at Twickenham on Saturday.

Already assured of the Six Nations title, Ireland stormed to just their third Championship clean sweep of all time with a 24-15 victory.

Ireland kicked off having both deposed England as Six Nations champions and in second place in the global rankings behind world champions New Zealand.

England, the Six Nations kings in both 2016 and 2017, could have regained second spot with a victory.

But they instead suffered a third successive defeat following away losses to Scotland and France as they were beaten at Twickenham for the first time under Australian coach Jones.

And with Wales edging out France 14-13 later on Saturday, it meant England ended the Championship in a lowly fifth place - their worst finish since they were bottom of the old Five Nations in 1983.

Jones, who has made no secret of wanting to win next year's World Cup with England, said it was better the setbacks happened now than at Japan 2019.

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    England slumped to their worst finish under Eddie Jones after winning the Six Nations for the last two years.

"It is, unfortunately, something that you have to have because you never find out about yourself unless you have these runs," he said.

"Every team I have had that has been a champion team has had these runs which have been instrumental in how you remake a team," added Jones, Australia's coach when they lost the 2003 World Cup final to England in Sydney.

The former Wallaby and Japan boss was appointed to his current post after tournament hosts England suffered the embarrassment of a first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup.

England then set off on a winning run that only ended when Ireland denied them a Grand Slam in Dublin last year.

Until last month, that was the only blot on Jones' England record, which now stands at 24 wins from 27 Tests with three defeats.

"When you take over it is reasonably easy, like I did with England, it is quite easy to improve them quickly because you get to fix certain things that need fixing quickly," he added.

"But internal mechanisms take time to fix and that is the slow burner. Unless you fix them, they catch up with you when you get to the big tournaments such as the World Cup.

"So for us it has been an enormously beneficial tournament if disappointing because we are finding out about how to be a better team."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 19, 2018, with the headline 'England need setbacks to be better: Jones'. Print Edition | Subscribe