Clive Woodward: Where are the brains to hold coach Jones to account?

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: After England’s dismal defeat by Ireland, where are the rugby brains to hold Eddie Jones to account?

  • England suffered an awful 32-18 defeat in Ireland to finish third in the Six Nations
  • Serious questions need to be asked of Eddie Jones in the aftermath of the fiasco 

Make no mistake, Ireland were excellent. They had way more energy and the return of Conor Murray gave them direction but that was really poor by England, two step backwards after taking a serious stride forward last week.

It’s time for Eddie Jones to look in the mirror, not the window. Somebody at the RFU — although I’m not sure who is qualified to do so — needs to ask some sharp questions of him. There is no respected rugby ‘brain’ asking the difficult questions.

What’s going on? Why have England just finished fifth in the Six Nations, one place above Italy? Why have England produced only one decent performance in this tournament?

Eddie Jones is due some tough questions following England’s damaging defeat against Ireland

Jones’ side were well beaten in Dublin and sharp analysis is required to deduce improvements

Why are England Six Nations also-rans? Why is the England team not reflective of the fantastic talent we see every week in the Premiership?

England didn’t seem to carry any of the lessons with them from that win over France. Their bad kicking returned along with disastrously poor discipline when it counted. Ireland just kept building the score to romp to victory.

I would like to say I was surprised but deep down I’m not. I had hoped last week was a fresh start but there is something very wrong at present.

The graph has been going steadily downwards since that World Cup semi-final win over New Zealand with just an occasional blip or pulse of hope.

Ireland had a day to remember and appear to be heading on a different trajectory to England

England thought that if a young team could reach the World Cup final they would automatically kick on and improve over the next four years but Test rugby does not work like that.

You have to refresh and renew and somebody at the RFU needed to badly investigate whatever went wrong in the World Cup final instead of automatically handing Jones another contract.

An inquest was needed so that England learned the right lessons. It was all too congratulatory when England returned from Japan and English rugby has paid a heavy price this season.

It was a miserably disappointingly poor first half from England. Gone was the fizz and energy of the previous week and again their old Achilles heel resurfaced, giving silly, cheap unnecessary penalties away at key moments. That’s where it all started going wrong.

There were three alone at scrum time where Mako Vunipola — who just hasn’t played enough rugby — looked at odds with himself.

England appeared naive at times and were duly punished in a dire end to their Six Nations term

Two of those resulted in successful kicks for Sexton and England had to make changes at the break — Ellis Genge and Jamie George coming on.

The Ireland half-backs completely bossed proceedings. I have no idea why Ireland have been leaving Murray out because to my eyes he is always a class act and that is only accentuated when he pairs up with Sexton.

Warren Gatland will have enjoyed seeing the duo back in form. This was the best I’ve seen Ireland play in a long while and it’s a huge moment for Andy Farrell. Ireland ‘found’ themselves on Saturday.

One of the things that worries me is the naivety of this England team. They looked unprepared for the intensity of Ireland’s challenge but Ireland almost always raise their game against England.

Their Six Nations — good or bad — was on the line and a handful of Lions places. Ireland looked sharper in everything they did. There is so much England need to address and they need to start right now.




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