Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Medicine | By Douglas Stevenson

Eddie Jones encounters alarming stumbling blocks on road to Japan


Defending champions England conceded the Six Nations title to Ireland after losing to France 22-16 on Saturday.

Ireland's win over Scotland in Dublin, coupled with England's loss in France, handed Joe Schmidt's side the crown.

- Overall Ireland have won their last 11 Test matches, a new record for them.

Ireland will be wary of its visit to Twickenham, especially as it was the Irish who denied England the grand slam last season in identical circumstances.

This is bordering on the disingenuous - this squad have some fledgling players but they can not, with any credibility, be called a young side.

Indeed as soon as Sean Cronin added to a brace of scores from Jacob Stockdale and a further effort from Conor Murray to bag the bonus point against Scotland, top spot was an inevitability but took a further few hours to confirm. "There are other issues apart from being technical and a lot of it has got to do with power".

"There's a number of guys who won't be playing in Twickenham, but are certainly right behind the squad". "We are always going to go through this at some stage". Scotland were very good on that day.

"(The players) do stay in that bubble.

"We didn't help ourselves in terms of the way we carried the ball. We controlled the ball and that upset them because they're not used to it".

Asked if Irish provinces' approach at the breakdown gives their national side an advantage, Jones said: "It's pretty obvious". The fact that a still bigger prize is on offer this week is a factor, but while those in 2014 and 2015 were hanging in the balance until the last seconds, from the moment England lost to Scotland two weeks ago it would have been a huge disappointment had Ireland let it slip from there.

'I think they're going to be really risky, ' Schmidt added.

Where do you think it all went wrong for England? I thought he was super. "We'll have to look back at it and make sure we learn".

"We're all aware of what it is, and what could potentially come at the end of it, but I think what this group is really good at is focusing on what we need to do, and it's effectively just another game-week".

"Credit to the management team to have prepared us so well for each match with so many players missing", said Sexton.

"It's great though, building forward into World Cups and before that, the Championship next year, that we've built a bit of depth". He is the reason why Ireland beat the Springboks for the first time in July 2016 and why the Men in Green ended a 111-year wait to beat the All Blacks in November of the same year. We've lost two games of rugby.

"It's very muted upstairs. Any team that is developing as we are, you go through these tough periods, when the game doesn't love you", he said. "We do have the ability, it's just about getting that performance together and trying to nail it as best we can".

'They will be incredibly keen to make sure that they deny us what we denied them past year'.

Full report to follow.

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