Eddie Jones celebrated England’s first grand slam for 13 years following the 31-21 victory over France and said that the best was still to come – beating the All Blacks.
Jones, who took over as head coach after England’s most unsuccessful World Cup, has set a goal of becoming the No 1 ranked team in the world by the time the 2019 World Cup starts.
“Can we beat the All Blacks?” he was asked at the after-match media conference. “We can’t now, but we will,” said Jones. “We are ecstatic to be the dominant team in Europe, but the great thing is we have a long way to go. What is exciting is that we have an average age of 24 and the trophy average is normally 28 so we have a lot of growing to do.
“Our first-half performance here was pretty ordinary. We were too worried mentally about the result rather than playing. We had a better mindset after the break with more conviction and courage. It was always going to be difficult against a French team with nothing to lose. The players are pretty battered but they will enjoy themselves tonight.
“It is a small step and we have a tour to Australia to come in the summer and we look forward to that,” added Jones, who was the Wallabies’ coach in 2003 when they lost the World Cup final to England in Sydney. “We have brought some young players through, perhaps earlier than we intended, and we will introduce more in the next three years.
“We have the talent to beat the All Blacks. England have been quite stereotyped in the way they play and you see that in the Premiership. We are trying to change that and it helps when players know that they are being pushed for their positions.”
The No 8 Billy Vunipola was again named the man of the match, although the second-row George Kruis, one of the few players in the side who was not a regular starter in last year’s World Cup, was a contender for the way he set about destroying France’s lineout, which had been one of their few strengths in the previous four rounds of the tournament.
“The grand slam means a great deal,” said Vunipola. “We have had a great eight weeks, and to come out on top and win every game after what happened at the World Cup, which no one can forget about, is a superb achievement for us. I just thank God for giving me the opportunity, and I am just so happy right now.
“You could hear how loud the crowd was. I am sure they didn’t want us to come here and win a grand slam on their home soil, and that is a credit to them. But more credit goes to my team and the way we stood up to them in a tough first half, and we eventually came out on top.”
The France head coach, Guy Novès, said England were a cut above the rest in this year’s championship. “I did not feel there was much between us and the other four sides we played before today,” he said. “The gap was much bigger between us and England and while I was proud of the way we played, we have to improve to catch them up.”
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