Eddie Jones insists his four-year plan leading into the 2019 World Cup remains intact despite Saturday’s defeat by Ireland.
The RBS 6 Nations champions headed to Dublin in search of back-to-back Grand Slams and a record-breaking 19th Test victory only to barely fire a shot as they fell 13-9 to opponents whose performance was worthy of a more emphatic scoreline.
England are attempting to arrange an additional fixture with the All Blacks at Twickenham in November, but New Zealand’s media reacted with scorn to their failure to claim a place in history.
Among the words used to describe the display at the Aviva Stadium were “thuggish”, “brain dead”, “arrogant”, “wrecking balls in chains” and “back to square one”.
But Jones, whose aim is to depose New Zealand at the summit of the game, is adamant England are on course to peak at Japan 2019.
“This result doesn’t change the plan at all. Did you think we would never get defeated?” Jones said. “It’s a game, it’s a game of rugby. We lost, we’ll move on, we’ll get better, we’ll learn.
“One game doesn’t change our plan. We’ve got a plan in place. I know what we’ve got to do to be at our best for the World Cup. One game doesn’t affect our perception of people, or the team.
“It’s great for us. It’s not great to lose, but it’s a great learning experience. There’s no scar there at all. You guys know the history of rugby. You know what the All Blacks had to go through to win the World Cup in 2011.
“They lost the semi-final against Australia in 2003 and they lost the quarter-final in 2007. They got to the final in 2011 and they had to have a very kind referee to get them home. That’s how hard it is for them to win. So to lose the Grand Slam game when we’ve already got the trophy is hardly a scar, it’s a learning experience.”
Despite a defeat in which the Irish try-line was never threatened, Jones insists England would win a minimum six times if the rivals were to meet on 10 more occasions.
“We were ready, we just weren’t good enough. Sometimes you’re just not good enough. That’s the reality. We weren’t good enough on the day but that’s one day,” Jones said. “If we play them another 10 times, how many times do you reckon we’d win? I reckon we’d win at least six of them.”
The Rugby Football Union is hoping New Zealand will agree to play at Twickenham on November 4, meaning England must face the world champions in the opening match of the autumn series. It will offer little time for the build-up, but Jones would still welcome the prospect of a mouth-watering showdown between the sport’s two best teams.
“We are very keen to play that game and if it comes across we will be well prepared. We don’t have any excuses,” Jones said.