20.05.2018 - We are now just one year away from the 2019 World Cup and England are rocking after a disappointing Six Nations campaign. Eddie Jones’ men had won 22 of their previous 23 tests prior to the 2018 competition but lost three matches in a row to Scotland, France and Ireland – results that sent shockwaves across the rugby union world. Eddie’s England are now very much there for the taking, especially away from Twickenham.Jones, previously labelled as something of a messiah by England supporters, will now have to silence his critics; a summer tour of South Africa awaits. However, the omens are not in England’s favour by any means. The Red Rose have won just one of their previous 13 clashes with the Springboks, whilst their record in South Africa is also miserable. Three victories in 13 contests hardly inspires confidence and plenty of England fans will have reservations over whether the tourists will enjoy a positive series or not.
But that is what separates the good coaches from the great ones. Jones has thicker skin than most and he has coped relatively well with the harsh words in the Six Nations aftermath. It is now Jones’ time to step up and show just why the RFU opted to offer a contract extension until 2021. The next six months will be pivotal for Jones’ future as England head coach, as well as England’s World Cup aspirations.
At the time of writing, England are ramping up their preparations for the South Africa tour and Jones’ men will be determined to send out a statement of intent. According to William Hill, England are a 6/1 shot to win the World Cup in Tokyo – the Red Rose certainly have the talent but discipline remains a major issue. Only Italy conceded more penalties during this year’s Six Nations and Jones will want to stamp those problems out sooner rather than later.
New Zealand will take some stopping in their pursuit of a third successive World Cup title – the All Blacks are by far and away the best team on the planet. Jones will have his troops ready for battle at Twickenham in November but his opposite number Steve Hansen will also have a game plan. A convincing win for New Zealand could be crushing for England’s plans ahead of next year’s World Cup. You won't find too many neutrals tipping England over the All Blacks at this moment in time.
Without a doubt, Eddie Jones will go down as one of modern rugby’s greatest head coaches. He does things very differently to previous England bosses but it is his way or the high way, and that isn’t always a bad thing. England have been building for the 2019 World Cup for some time now and an early exit may signal the end of Jones’ tenure. If the Australian can get England back to their brilliant best though, a second World Cup triumph could be on the cards.