Whilst Eddie Jones is clearly in denial about his team’s performances and progress in the World Cup Cycle, the rest of the rugby world can clearly see a number of problems in the current England side. Having only mustered up wins against a heavily depleted Welsh team and an Italian side that lacks any real firepower, England have scored only two tries in the tournament against top tier opposition (the Italy game being excluded here).
The English attack is almost non-existent. In the game against Ireland, they mustered up a mere 68 passes which only provided them with a single line-break in the entire fixture and even worse, they only managed a whole 16 seconds of possession in the Irish 22m. Yes, you would be correct in pointing out that they were a man down for most of the proceedings, but no top flight side should boast such terrible statistics.
Marcus Smith has been praised as the attacking genius that England Rugby needs, but he has failed to deliver on this promise. Whilst he is very talented and his form at club side, Harlequins paints a different picture, Eddie Jones has failed to implement a plan that plays to the youngsters’ strengths. When a game plan is so bland and predictable, you have to look at the coaching box to ascertain where the problems arise.
Whilst I won’t enter the arena now to debate who the worlds best side is, a tough task if you ask me, when teams haven’t player one another in a while. I think we can all agree that the top 4 sides in World Rugby are comfortably France, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland. The rankings reflect this, so where does this leave England in all of it?
Wales, Scotland, Australia and England will then be fighting it out for 5th to 8th place realistically. If you consider England beat Australia in November 2021, they may be above them. However, they lost to Scotland and came close to losing to Wales this year, a result which would have been different had Wales had a full-strength side to pick from. With that in mind, where would you say England are ranked realistically?
England are 5th at best, but realistically I would say they are the World’s 7th best side at this point ranked behind both Scotland and Wales and marginally ahead of Australia. This leaves them worryingly close to being on the out skirts of the quarter final contingent at the World Cup.
Maybe I am being too critical of the English, but if you consider that they finished with only two wins in 2021 and look likely to succumb to the same fate in 2022, unless they can by some miracle stop France in Paris this coming weekend. They really are an average side and will have done little to set the alarm bells off for their opponents at the World Cup. Eddie Jones has failed to grow the side from their 2023 World Cup loss and if anything they have only regressed from there.
The mere fact that Eddie Jones called the loss to Ireland “a foundation game’ in his plan for world dominance by the end of the 2023 World Cup in France should tell you all that you need to know. At this rate, England will be lucky to make it past the quarter finals. Just over a year out from the show piece, there are very few who will see England as genuine title contenders and even fewer who would imagine them beating either of the Wallabies or Wales in the quarter finals. England head to Australia in July and anything but a win in that series, could prove catastrophic for Eddie Jones and his future with England Rugby.