Is English rugby on the up?by Leana Kell
England's recent win over Australia was light years away from the last time both teams came face to face back in September at Twickenham when Australia knocked England out of their own World Cup.
Last week, in Sydney, the teams faced one another for the third time in fifteen days, and although the Wallabies were able to reach the try line five times, England somehow managed to come right back at them and power their way into the lead.
The result was, Australia 40, England 44 and a 3-0 win by England for the tour, but how have England become so hard to beat? What has changed since their poor performance at the Rugby World Cup 2015? Centurion takes a look below.
On 25th June 2016, England became the first British side since 1904 to claim a 3-0 clean sweep down-under, a shock to the rest of the world who were convinced that after England bowed out of the World Cup so shamefully just 9 months ago, their performance would hardly blow the Wallabies out of the water.
But, since the start of the year, England have gone from strength to strength, securing the Six Nations grand slam, an unprecedented June series win, a world under-20 title and an unbeaten Saxons tour to South Africa.
Is English rugby back on track?
It would seem so for now, although critics point out that Jones was slightly fortunate to catch a Wallaby side in transition, minus some of its foreign-based players and leaving a couple of key positions vulnerable. Furthermore, England have yet to play against the All Blacks who are eagerly looking forward to the Rugby World Championship in August.
But all in all, England did play remarkably well, and thanks to the mastermind head coach Eddie Jones, they successfully convinced the public they could actually prosper following 12 months of relentless training and playing.
Eddie Jones, said; “I’ve always said there is talent in England. The job is to get that talent to perform consistently. If you look at the last four years under Stuart Lancaster, they had peak performance spasmodically. All we’ve tried to do is get consistency of attitude and preparation because then you get consistency of performance.”
The England team have also been taking notes from the regional rugby teams, for example, they have adopted the clever way the Saracens rotate their players, whilst making sure that talent such as Owen Farrell is brought to the forefront of games.
It has been cited that Eddie Jones' "wit and ruthlessness" has also played a large part in ensuring that England return home from Australia triumphant. Jones has no qualms about abruptly withdrawing players if and when he feels the need, such as Teimana Harrison who was withdrawn only 31 minutes into the final Test, whilst others have been told in no uncertain terms they must work harder or return to the back benches.
What do the players think?
Many of the players cannot believe their luck, particularly those who participated in the failed World Cup campaign. Leicester scrum-half, Ben Youngs, said; “I was pretty low at that point but, when Eddie came in, you knew straight away we had a guy who we absolutely wanted to play for."
Eddie Jones has instilled confidence in the squad, guiding them towards being a smarter and more resilient team of players under pressure. Youngs added; “There is a real understanding about what we are as a side, Eddie is just so quick in how he reads the game and reacts. When you go out there’s not a sense of invincibility but a sense of real confidence that the work has been done and you can just go out and play.”
The England squad certainly have some great opportunities ahead with a current winning sequence that stretches to 10 games, and they could increase this further to perfect the longest run in history if they win their four autumn internationals at Twickenham. Good luck to the Lions!