Stephen Jones eats humble pie as England fail to march ahead of All Blacks
England apologist Stephen Jones has been forced to eat humble pie, admitting England missed the chance to send the All Blacks a message that they are "a thunderous threat".
Instead, England showed their claims to outdo Steve Hansen's side amounted to "woolly waffle" as their loss to Ireland left them without another Grand Slam, and more importantly, the chance to snatch the world record for consecutive tier one test wins from New Zealand.
A week ago Jones was declaring the Dublin match a done thing, that there could be only one winner and that England would "expunge" the All Blacks, "poor dears", from the record books.
To his credit, Jones' appraisal of the opposite result, was critical of Eddie Jones' outfit and he also hit out at the growing hype around the moves to have the All Blacks and England square off at Twickenham in November.
First the disaster in Dublin, where Jones started his analysis in the Sunday Times by declaring: "Please don't start the inquest by claiming that yesterday was not a real check on England's progress, like the point of impact in Vanishing Point. Some will insist that it could teach them lessons, will help "development" (no one really knows what the D-word means) and could eventually even be seen as part of the grand England scheme of things.
"Nonsense. Today there is only sporting mourning and the heady position that waited for them, on top of the world as the team with history's longest winning run, never saw their boot studs after all. Massive games are for the winning, the signpost of the great sides. They ended short.
"The benefits of defeat do not exist. First, because if you are not good enough as a coach or player to keep learning while you are winning games then why are you out there anyway? Second, because the wonder run is over one win before it made history, so the message to the All Blacks is now simply a woolly waffle, not a thunderous threat."
Jones believed the result was a lost opportunity to set themselves apart from the All Blacks, with the two sides now left sharing the world record of 18 wins on the trot.
"England stand poised alongside New Zealand, and in that sense they have to start over again. There can be little doubt that Eddie Jones will be fuming, not so much about the lost history, but about the defeat yesterday, this indication that England cannot yet meet every challenge and everything that is being asked of them.
"Even though no team can be expected to win every game, the very finest teams, the true contenders for the world title, always tend to win the history games. The ones that really put you in the books for good and all."
But Jones said the quality of rugby in the Six Nations had been "stirring" and suggested New Zealand would be the only one of the four major southern hemisphere teams who "could have competed consistently well".
Jones has little time for the behind the scenes manoeuvres to have the All Blacks meet England on their end of year tour, a year earlier than scheduled.
It's a game where New Zealand could earned between $5m-$10m under a revenue sharing agreement. That, Jones said, was the real motivating factor, at the expense of player welfare which the England coach is pushing for in the leadup to the 2019 World Cup in Japan.
"Who knows what effect this England defeat will have on the rumoured plans to crudely impale yet another big test match on the groaning international calendar," wrote Jones in the Sunday Times.
"The organisers will no doubt tell us that it is the game everyone wanted to see - and in a very narrow interpretation it is because England and New Zealand remain the top two teams in the world rankings.
"Only the true saps will be fooled, however, because the game will be the apple of the eye of those never averse to adding a few more million into the coffers - in the case of Twickenham, to grow the vast machine even more and in the case of New Zealand, if reports are true, to fill their begging bowl."