Six Nations: Where are stalled Eddie Jones’ England going wrong?

We have to start over.

But how can or should England change when they are in decline due to the awful Six Nations?

Then it went wrong. And repairs that can help.

Slow start

CountJonny May was involved in a fast start in the first two minutes against Ireland in 2019 that ended abruptly.

It’s a strange thing.

The quick departure from England was once a trademark. The underdogs’ victories over Ireland and New Zealand in 2019 relied on very intense, precisely constructed opening salvos.

Indeed, they have scored on their first try in each of their five Six Nations matches in 2019. On three occasions, his first goal was scored within two minutes.

This season has been very different. England have lost the first test in their last seven matches. In this year’s Six Nations, they scored just five tries in the first half, including three against Italy.

When opponents are scrutinised and analysed, does Jones retain some of the prepared English moves that should be served up with panache at the start of a match that really matters? Or does England need a different voice in the dressing room to regain their early anger?


Maro Itoje single-handedly missed five penalties in the loss against Wales.

Sir Clive Woodward left England after the 2003 Rugby World Cup with a heap of acronyms, mottoes and managerial gems.

One that has stood the test of time is the importance he places on discipline. Woodward insisted that his team would not finish in single digits in any game in the standings.

England have not achieved this in any of their Six Nations matches this year and have conceded a total of 67 penalties.

England’s indiscipline was often accompanied by game-changing blows.

In the second half against Wales, England fought back to within one goal.

But Ellis Genge, Charlie Ewels and Dan Robson each missed penalties in the space of four minutes to overturn the game and allow Callum Sheedy to give Wales the lead.

England have invited referees Wayne Barnes and Matt Carley to a training session to show them how to stay on the right side of the law.

Could the change of captaincy from Owen Farrell to a striker who concedes the most penalties affect England’s focus?


England defensive coach John Mitchell meets compatriot Shaun Edwards.

England have dropped more points – 121 – in this Six Nations than in any of the previous 21 competitions.

Particularly painful will be France and Ireland’s moves to score goals in Phase 1 – a cardinal sin for a modern defensive coach.

After Damien Penaud’s goal, Laurent Labit, the French attacking coach, made England’s weaknesses clear by saying that they overprotect George Ford and that Henry Slade tends to move to midfield in defence.

In defence, England only gave up two tries compared to their win in the 2020 tournament. Indiscipline, giving away more free kicks on goal, is the reason for most of the goals against.

Depth in key positions

Wasps centre Paolo Odogwu was in the Six Nations squad but did not play a single minute.

England has a lot of experience.

The team that took on Ireland had 767 caps, an average of 50 per player.

However, this comes at the cost of a lack of balance. Many of the finalists and contenders for the tournament have not had much playing time, especially at key positions.

Scrum-half Ben Youngs, 31, has 109 caps. Student Dan Robson, 29, has only 12, all from the bench. Harry Randall and Ben Spencer, who were not selected, have both been selected for the national team four times.

At number eight, Billy Vunipola is the first choice when needed. Despite the reported poor form, there is no obvious replacement specialist ready to take over.

Zach Mercer lost all hope and went to France. Bristol’s Nathan Hughes, linked to Exeter, is pessimistic about his hopes of adding to his 22 international caps. Sam Simmonds, linked with Exeter as the European player of the match this season, has not played a Test for three years. Alex Dombrandt Harlequins have never done it.

Jones told Sports earlier this month that the talent is just not there at certain positions. Others will say she has no chance.

Type of attack

Henry Slade and Owen Farrell were England’s defensive midfielders in the absence of Manu Tuilagi.

After more than five years under Jones, Manu Tuilagi has made just 14 appearances for England.

But his absence is almost as great as his influence.

The immediate threat from the injured centre leaves defenders on the sidelines to make way for a dangerous English trio.

He narrowly missed out on the Six Nations with the team in 2019, reached the Rugby World Cup final and won the 2020 Six Nations title.

The combination of Owen Farrell and Henry Slade in midfield does not have the same penetrating power, and with Ollie Lawrence and Paolo Odogwu, if there was any game time, England seem to have lost an entire game plan with the loss of a player.

Richie Moanga, Finn Russell and Mathieu Jalibert have provided more danger on the fly side for New Zealand, Scotland and France respectively in recent years.

Marcus Smith Harlequins (or even Max Malins) could do the same if Jones decides to go in a different direction with the team.


Six Nations 2021 : England finished the tournament better than they started – Jones.

The big question.

Less than a year ago, Jones extended his contract until the end of the Rugby World Cup in 2023 and he has his sights set even higher than winning a second world title in France.

We want to be the team that will be remembered as the best team of all time, he said.

These statements sound more like unnecessary pride than healthy ambition after losing to Scotland, Wales and Ireland in the same spring campaign for the first time since 1976.

From the best team in history to the worst in their own backyard.

Jones denied that he was trying to inspire his players.

But England’s longest stay is in a coaching career that spans a quarter of a century and is characterised by a work ethic that burns out assistants at a rapid pace.

Having led England to the Rugby World Cup final in just over a year, after six defeats in a row and another fifth in the Six Nations, he will argue that he needs to serve out his contract.

The Rugby Football Union, where many jobs have been cut in recent months, is unlikely to add Jones to its list of surplus staff.

Still, adding a voice that brings expertise and helps bridge the generational gap between Jones, 61, and his players could be an option.

Paul O’Connell’s call-up to Ireland has helped both the team environment and team composition. Steve Borthwick, an equally respected new recruit, has not been properly replaced since his departure in the summer.

Former Australian international Jason Riles, who was due to take Borthwick’s place, has been ruled out due to Covid’s restrictions and 28-year-old Jersey Reds coach Ed Robinson is replacing him on an interim basis.

Release clause in Jones’ contract

Chris Jones, Rugby Union correspondent.

Jones is still under contract until 2023 and has long said he wants England to reach their peak at the tournament in France.

However, he has also acknowledged in the past that all coaches – especially at the international level – have an expiration date and the RFU must now decide if Jones has taken the team as far as he can, or if he can refresh the team as he did in 2018 with a good result.

The review of England’s worst tournament since the 1970s will now take place on an emergency basis, and there are reportedly safeguard clauses in the contract that allow both sides to activate the tournament if necessary. This means that the hands of the RAF are not tied by the financial consequences of an early termination of the contract.

If the RFU decides that changes are needed, there is no shortage of candidates, either domestically, in the English Premier League or abroad. Coaching England is arguably the most important job in world football, and the socially distant queue of potential replacements will swing for miles in front of Twickenham.

2016 1. (Grand Slam)
2017 1.
2018 5.
2019 2.
2020 1.
2021 5.

England’s 2019 World Cup ups and downs

October 2019 – New Zealand’s champions are eliminated in the World Cup semi-finals.

November 2019 – A 32-12 loss against South Africa in the final.

February 2020 – France will be defeated in the Six Nations.

October 2020 – The Six Nations title is postponed thanks to Covid’s victory over Italy.

December 2020 – England win the Autumn Nations Cup by beating France.

February 2021 – Scotland win at Twickenham for the first time since 1983.

February 2021 – Wales inflict a 40-24 defeat on England in Cardiff.

2021 March – A late try by Maro Itoje gives England a win against an inspired France.

March 2021 – Ireland loses in Dublin.


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