'Even Bradman failed at end'

Sun, 19 Mar 2017 07:44
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SIX NATIONS REACTION: England coach Eddie Jones found solace in his team's Six Nations 9-13 loss to Ireland by remembering that even Australian cricket legend Don Bradman flopped on his last visit to the crease.

Saturday's defeat ended England's hopes of claiming back-to-back Grand Slams and setting a new record of 19 successive Test wins for a top-tier rugby nation.

"How many teams have a 90 percent winning record at Test level? There are not too many, the All Blacks are the only ones and we have been doing that since the last World Cup.

"We are batting at a pretty good average - even Don Bradman got zero when he played his last Test," Jones, a lifelong cricket fan, said.

Bradman, regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, was dismissed for a duck in his last Test innings at the Oval in 1948 against England, leaving him with an average of 99.94.

However, Jones said he took "full responsibility" for the defeat that stopped his Six Nations champions from rewriting the record books.

Had England triumphed at a rain-swept Lansdowne Road, they would have set a new record of 19 successive Test wins by a leading rugby union nation and become the first team in the Six Nations era to complete back-to-back Grand Slams.

But they couldn't find a way past a resolute Ireland, who finished runners-up to already crowned Six Nations champions England on points difference.

Ireland lock Iain Henderson forced his way over for the only try of the match in the 24th minute, with flyhalf Jonathan Sexton several times hit by late tackles, kicking the remainder of the hosts' points.

All England, who ran in seven tries in their title-clinching 61-21 thrashing of Scotland at Twickenham last week, could manage in reply were three Owen Farrell penalties. It was their first defeat in 18 Tests under Jones.

"I'm disappointed and I take full responsibility for the loss. I didn't prepare the team well. I am not sure [what he did wrong]. I am like everyone else and I make mistakes. We're all human beings and we're not perfect and that's why world records finish at 18 games or 17 games.

"They [Ireland] used the conditions superbly and we probably didn't,' he stated.

However, Jones - who has revitalised England's fortunes following their first-round exit on home soil at the 2015 World Cup - was generally happy with the team's overall position.

"Be proud of yourselves boys. We are Six Nations champions, back-to-back which is a fantastic achievement. We're joint world record-holders, but we weren't good enough today," Jones told his side at full-time.

Jones, however, has always insisted his over-arching goal with England is to win the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

"We are 14 months into a four-year project as I have been saying. We have been chuffed with the results we have had but realism tells us we have still got a lot to do," he said.

Agence France-Presse

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Team P W D L Pts
England 5 4 0 1 19
Ireland 5 3 0 2 14
France 5 3 0 2 14
Scotland 5 3 0 2 14
Wales 5 2 0 3 10
Italy 5 0 0 5 0