England may have already retained the Six Nations Championship title but coach Eddie Jones won't be satisfied unless his side complete a Grand Slam by beating Ireland.
England may have already retained the Six Nations Championship title but coach Eddie Jones won’t be satisfied unless his side complete a Grand Slam by beating Ireland.
Last Saturday saw England, for the second season in a row, wrap up the title with a round to spare as they thrashed oldest rivals Scotland 61-21 in a hugely lopsided Calcutta Cup clash at Twickenham.
Victory also saw England equal New Zealand’s record of 18 successive Test wins by a ‘tier one’ or leading rugby union nation and they will break the world champions’ mark if they see off Ireland in Dublin this coming Saturday.
Success at Lansdowne Road would see England become just the sixth team in Championship history, and first in the Six Nations era, to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.
England’s points tally against Scotland was the highest by either side in the 146-year history of the sport’s oldest international fixture.
But Jones, speaking at England’s training base in Bagshot, southwest of London, said: "We didn’t celebrate. We haven’t got anything to celebrate yet. It is all ahead of us."
The Australian, still to lose a match as England coach since taking over after the hosts’ first-round exit at the 2015 World Cup, added: "Last year we were nervous and I expect us to be nervous this year. It is a big occasion. You don’t get a chance to win a Grand Slam back to back too many times but experience helps.
"The players have experienced that the year before so I’m sure they will cope with that."
Jones, Australia’s coach when the Wallabies lost the 2003 World Cup final to England, insisted: "Every year winning is difficult.
"There’s a perception that this Six Nations has been better and it probably has been, but you’ve still got to win and to win it you’ve got to stay undefeated.
"You have to be around your best for five games in a row. That’s an achievement."
Ireland’s own Six Nations title hopes were effectively ended by a 22-9 loss to Wales in Cardiff on Friday.
But the Irish, under Kiwi coach Joe Schmidt, ended the All Blacks’ winning streak with their first-ever victory over New Zealand in Chicago in November and a wary Jones said: "Ireland are an extremely well coached side and they’ll be grossly disappointed by their performance on Friday.
"I’ve just been reading all the predictions at the start of the tournament and a number of people tipped them to win the competition.
"They were favourites but they haven’t won the Six Nations and they’ll be carrying the expectation of their country to do well."