England boss 'sorry' for World Cup final defeat
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: England boss Eddie Jones has hit out at “negativity” over his side’s performance after they were smashed 12-32 by South Africa in the World Cup final.
The Australian stood by his players after Saturday’s stinging loss in Yokohama, where England looked a shadow of the team that had stunned defending champions New Zealand 19-7 a week earlier.
“We were beaten by a better team, but I’m so proud of the players,” he insisted after finishing as the losing coach for the second time in a World Cup final.
“I’m disappointed there’s such a negative attitude about our performance,” bristled Jones, noting that he had taken a team that crashed out in the pool stage four years ago to the brink of a first world title in 16 years.
“We weren’t good enough – sorry, I apologise! We’ve just got beaten in the final and there’s all this negativity – I find it incredible.”
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Jones, Wallabies coach when Jonny Wilkinson’s extra-time drop goal brought England rugby’s holy grail in 2003, struggled to explain why his team had been destroyed in the scrum and at the breakdown, as Handre Pollard kicked six penalties before tries from Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe completed the rout.
“If I knew, I’d be able to fix it,” he snapped after England lost in a World Cup final for the third time following heartbreak in 1991 and 2007, when they were also beaten 15-6 by South Africa and Jones had a consulting role with the Springboks.
“They won a significant area of the game, which was the scrum, and that trickled down to the rest of the game,” added Jones, who masterminded Japan’s jaw-dropping upset of South Africa at the 2015 World Cup.
“If you can’t get on the front foot you look like a team that lacks ideas, lacks energy and looks tired.”
‘No answers, mate’
Turning his famous “stink eye” on the British press pack, Jones denied England had choked.
“You write that, you’re the clever guy,” he fumed. “We put everything in we could – we just weren’t good enough. We’re the second-best team in the world.”
He dismissed opposite number Rassie Erasmus’s theory that the English pack had come into the decider fatigued, while South Africa’s split of six forwards – dubbed the “bomb squad” – and only two backs on the bench allowed the Boks to replace their hulking pack for the last half-hour of games.
“Winning coaches have got all the answers – I’ve got no answers, mate,” growled Jones, who lost prop Kyle Sinckler – so explosive in England’s 40-16 quarter-final thrashing of Australia and against All Blacks — to a head injury after just three minutes
“It’s bad luck when you lose a tighthead in the first minute, but it’s not an excuse. You’re better off putting that game to the side and getting on with it.”
Jones refused to be drawn on whether he would seek to extend his current deal with England beyond 2021.
“That’s not my decision,” he barked, admitting England would be “kicking stones for four years” after such a devastating end to the tournament.
“Remember three weeks ago, I was going to get the sack – there was going to be blood on the walls at Twickenham. Sorry guys, but you’ve got me for another two years.”
A devastating loss but the team have done us proud 🌹 pic.twitter.com/DLTGAkdco9
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) November 2, 2019