Eddie Jones seems to possess a lot of similarities to Jose Mourinho, both coaches are very opinionated, are successful in short bursts and of course nobody likes them. Despite being such a controversial figure throughout his coaching career, Mr Jones has occupied the riches of English rugby for the past 3 years both on and off the field. He is the highest paid coach in world rugby and has the luxury of selecting from a large pool of English talent with the Premiership. His win % currently sits at an impressive 81 and during his first 2 season in charge Jones could do nothing wrong. After his appointment in November 2015 Jones expressed his ambition to achieve great things as England’s head coach with main goal being victory at the 2019 world cup.
At the start of his third year that idea actually seemed plausible, England achieved a record of 19 consecutive victories in his first 2 years and won back to back Six Nations titles in the same time. The three test series against Australia in 2016 provided some of the most physical and enthralling rugby I’ve ever seen and for England to win that series 3-0 indicated something special was brewing. But rugby is of course a very unpredictable game as the 2017/18 season proved. England went through the Autumn series unbeaten and looked strong favourites to conquer Europe once more in the following Six nations tournament. The campaign started off as predicted, two victories over Italy & Wales were not surprising but what followed after that certainly was. 3 consecutive losses against Scotland, France and Ireland left the English in a very unfamiliar situation. Eddie Jones’s team looked fragile, uncertain and lacked conviction.
The Six nations was a nightmare for England, the team finished 5th and the honeymoon period for Eddie Jones reached it’s conclusion. The three test against South Africa in the summer was supposed to be redemption, the Aussie said he loved the pressure his team was under and revelled in it. But that enthusiasm only translated on to the field in patches. England lost the 1st test, not badly but they seemed to throw the match away, at one point England led South Africa by 21 points and ended up losing by 3. The losing streak continued after the 2nd test with England succumbing to a 23 – 12 defeat in Bloemfontein. The 2nd half was particularly worrying with the English putting in their worst display under the Australian.
England needed to win the 3rd test, badly. They were on a 5 match losing streak with pressure levels reaching their max. The match was dreadful with heavy rain affecting the quality of play. The 1st half was so bad I’m honestly surprised I didn’t fall asleep, the first 40 minutes ended 6-0 to England, yawn. The second half did pick up (thank god) with the English scoring 2 tries easing their way to a 25 – 10 victory and in the process saved the job of their head coach. The relief afterwards was clear and England celebrated as if they had won the test series. Of course they didn’t, but victory against South Africa could be significant.
I like Eddie Jones, I find the guy amusing and I think he is a top class coach, his successes with Australia, South Africa and Japan prove it. But I feel next years world cup has come to soon and his side won’t be ready to lift the Webb Ellis trophy. In the autumn victories against Australia, South Africa and Japan will be expected, but the match against New Zealand will provide clear evidence of where England are in the pecking order. No doubt it will be a tasty encounter and I predict Eddie Jones having a dig at Steve Hansen beforehand. I think Eddie Jones will achieve further success with this English side, he certainly should. It will be interesting to see if England live up to his mighty ambitions, time will tell.