Record run is de­nied

Ire­land

Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 SPORT -

Eng­land are not cur­rently slated to face back-to-back world cham­pi­ons New Zealand un­til 2018, but the RFU are bat­tling to se­cure a pres­tige Novem­ber 2017 fix­ture with the All Blacks at Twick­en­ham. Jones’ clear de­sire for Eng­land to face New Zealand merely un­der­scores his aim to turn his side into the world’s best.

“There’s a lot of dis­cus­sions to go,” said Jones.

“A lot of dis­cus­sions with New Zealand and within the rugby com­mu­nity, there’s still a lot to go.

“You have these days, Ire­land played su­perbly and they were too good for us on the day. And we weren’t good enough.

“We’re all hu­man be­ings, we’re not per­fect, and that’s why world records finish at 18 games be­cause it’s hard to keep. They used the con­di­tions su­perbly we prob­a­bly didn’t. They played above them­selves; we played be­low our usual level.

“I didn’t pre­pare the team well enough to­day, and the next Test we play I’ll pre­pare them bet­ter.”

When asked what he had done wrong in Dublin in pre­par­ing Eng­land, Jones con­tin­ued: “I’m not sure, if I knew I’d do it. I’m hu­man like ev­ery­one else, I make mis­takes. So at that.”

Ire­land scram­bled a sec­ond-place finish in the Six Na­tions, as well as end­ing an­other world-record run at 18 matches. Joe Sch­midt’s men downed New Zealand on a run of 18 con­sec­u­tive wins in Chicago in Novem­ber, and have now added the record-equalling Eng­land to that scalp. Aus­tralian boss Jones in­sisted there was no re­lief in Eng­land los­ing their win­ning streak.

Asked if los­ing the win­ning run could al­le­vi­ate pres­sure, Jones replied: “No. I think it’s fan­tas­tic hav­ing the pres­sure to per­form. I’ll look

“To win the World Cup you’ve got to win seven in a row, you’ve got to cope with that pres­sure. That was like a World Cup fi­nal to­day and we weren’t good enough.

“We’re 14 months into a four-year project. We’ve been chuffed with the re­sults we’ve had. We were caught in cer­tain ar­eas to­day. Full credit to Ire­land, they were bril­liantly coached and ex­e­cuted their plan well.

“We’ll have more set­backs as we move to­wards the World Cup.

“How many teams av­er­age a 90 per cent win rate? Not many, only the All Blacks.”

Eng­land have now lost three grand slam de­ciders in Dublin since 2001, but Jones in­sisted his play­ers had not been over­awed by the oc­ca­sion. Asked if the fi­nal show­down in Dublin had caught his play­ers cold, Jones said: “I don’t think so at all, I thought our ef­fort was good. Ire­land played su­perbly.”

Vice-cap­tain Jamie Heaslip pulled out of Ire­land’s team af­ter suf­fer­ing a last­minute ham­string prob­lem in the warm-up.

Peter O’Ma­hony stepped in and pro­duced a man-ofthe-match show­ing, but Ire­land boss Sch­midt in­sisted Heaslip’s with­drawal was en­forced and not due to a late change of hearts on the tac­ti­cal front. “That couldn’t be a more flawed the­ory,” said Sch­midt, when asked if the late change was tac­ti­cal.

“It’s not some­thing we do, we pick a team and they go out and play. Jamie’s just pulled his up­per ham­string and he was not able to play.”

Pho­to­graph: PA

Eng­land’s Ben Youngs chal­lenges Ire­land’s Simon Zebo at the Aviva Sta­dium

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