My last prediction was definitely way off the mark with France reading England’s game plan extremely well and exploiting them in the majority of play, and subsequently knocking them out of contention for the championship, guaranteeing Ireland the title.
France did play very well with probably some of the best rugby they have played in recent years but England were poor and have now lost two on the bounce.
There’s no need to panic, England have only lost three matches under Eddie Jones, however, the novelty and innovative play Jones started with is starting to wear off.
Teams now know that England are 35% fitter than they were just over two years ago and that they are under a new hard hitting regime. Nevertheless, England are in danger of falling under the trap of becoming too predictable.
Up until the 65th minute of the French game you could tell what England were going to do.The box kick from Danny Care; little carries by the forwards or Anthony Watson kicking to France’s back line are some plays that come to mind.
When the game became a little less predictable was when the ‘finishers’ came on and in particular when Mike Brown took to the field.
During the first half England were failing to convert the possession they had into points, but ultimately it was the sixteen penalties that England gave away that lead to their eventual downfall.
It’s simple, you cannot concede sixteen penalties if you want to win any game of rugby, regardless of the level.
There has been a lack of commitment to the breakdown from England during this year’s tournament and it’s ensuing frequent loss of possession has been proven costly.
If you look at England’s performances so far throughout the tournament the only game that England were dominant and deserved the win was the game against the Italians.
The Wales game England were lucky, the try that wasn’t a try. Had the try of been scored England would have still been in the lead, but the game could have had a different outcome had the Welsh been awarded the try.
England were marginally better on the day, but their errors nearly cost them the match and had the game gone on any longer I think that England would have struggled to keep the win.
The Scotland and France matches England were beaten by the better team. Both sides did their homework and adapted their play to England’s game plan and won in areas that arguably they normally might not have.
The England head coach Eddie Jones spoke after the French match and told the media that: “It will take eighteen months to fix England’s problems”. England simply cannot afford to take any longer with the Rugby World Cup starting in September 2019 or eighteen months’ time.
England of course will hope that it won’t take this long and they have some opportunity during next year’s Six Nations to finalise their World Cup starting line-up and squad and not have to be still be sorting out problems like conceding too many penalties.
If they don’t, the upcoming World Cup could be heading in the same direction as the last one did.