October 26, 2019 / 12:13 PM / 20 days ago

Rugby-We prepared for this triumph for years, says England coach Jones

YOKOHAMA, Oct 26 (Reuters) - Following their momentous 19-7 victory over New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup on Saturday, England are one win away from claiming the trophy for the second time - while Eddie Jones is just 80 minutes away from accomplishing the goal he set when taking over as England coach in 2015.

Since then, Jones and his team have ridden highs and lows, winning a record 18 consecutive matches and claiming the Grand Slam in 2016 but also struggling in the last two editions of the Six Nations.

However, the Australian’s eyes have always been set on the ultimate prize of claiming a second World Cup for England and, following a tactical masterclass on Saturday, he is now on the brink of achieving it.

“We have had two and a half years to prepare for (the semi-final,” said Jones. “They had a week to prepare.

“We have been subconsciously preparing for this game. When you ingrain habits in your players they are easier to sustain, and we saw some great habits from our players tonight.”

Jones sees the mental side of the game as key, and much of his work with England over the past four years has been about instilling a sense of calm when under the most extreme pressure.

His players certainly showed that on Saturday, bursting into a 13-point lead shortly after halftime and, despite gifting reigning champions New Zealand a way back into the match, England showed immense resolve to shut out the All Blacks and see out the win.

“The psychological process of the game is becoming increasingly important,” explained Jones.

“There is so little difference between the teams so (one needs) to try and understand what gives them energy and take that away from them. Then, for your own team, what gives us energy, what makes us play to our strengths.

“You have to be disciplined enough to follow that and I think Owen (Farrell) and the other leaders on the field today were exceptional.

“They kept the team disciplined, kept to our gameplan and targeted areas where we thought New Zealand were weak.”

Captain Farrell, who led the team in tackles alongside playmaking partner George Ford, epitomised England’s combination of ferocious defence and calmness under pressure.

“The feeling was of calm going into the game and building up into it. We feel in control of what we are doing,” he said.

“That comes from our preparation and the work we are doing in the week. You can’t fake that out there, especially in a big test match.

“If you see when they scored points today, that is the calmest we were under the posts after that, and that showed in our next actions.”

England’s next actions, indeed, were to score a further six points and move the match beyond New Zealand. As a result Jones, who was Australia’s losing head coach in the 2003 final and technical advisor with the victorious Springboks in 2007, will now be involved in his third World Cup final.

“We set out four years ago… I remember our first meeting at Pennyhill Park, our first meeting, we wanted to be the best team in the world and we are not the best team in the world,” said Jones.

“But we have the opportunity to play in the game where we can prove that we are.” (Editing by Antony Lawrence)

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