DUBLIN (Reuters) - England coach Eddie Jones blamed himself for his team’s 13-9 defeat by Ireland on Saturday that ended their hopes of a second successive Six Nations grand slam and a world record 19th victory in a row.
But he said the match - and an increasingly competitive Six Nations Championship - would provide crucial lessons as the team prepare for their main goal of winning the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
England conceded an early try to Ireland lock Iain Henderson and never really threatened to get back into the match as the hosts strangled their attacking options on a windy, drizzly evening in Dublin.
“I take full responsibility for the loss today. The team didn’t play well today so I’ve got to look at the preparation and fix it. Simple,” Australian Jones told reporters.
“They used the conditions superbly and we probably didn‘t.”
England secured the Six Nations title for the second year in a row with a crushing 61-21 win over Scotland last weekend, which Jones, who took over as head coach last year, described as a fantastic achievement.
But he said the Six Nations was likely to be significantly tougher next year and that England would have to fully take on board all the lessons they have learnt.
“We’re 14 months into a four-year project. We’ve been chuffed with the results we’ve had but realism shows us we still have a lot to do,” he said.
“We were caught in certain areas today and we’ll learn from it and we’re going to have more setbacks as we go to the World Cup.”
A key skill to winning the World Cup will be coping with pressure of expectation, Jones said.
“That was like a World Cup final today and we weren’t good enough,” the Australian added.
“We’re better off having that experience today than we are in Yokohama Stadium on Nov. 2 (2019) at 8pm,”
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt agreed that Jones’s team was improving fast.
“The depth and quality are one of the strengths of the English set-up at the moment and there are so many strengths. They have fantastic ball carriers, fantastic playmakers,” he said.
“I think they will continue to get better, unfortunately for us because they were a whisker away from being better than us tonight,” Schmidt added.
Editing by Ed Osmond