England boss Jones puts emphasis on hard graft

Eddie Jones (File)
Eddie Jones (File)

London - Forward power rather than 'fancy' rugby holds the key to England's chances of success in the Six Nations Championship, according to new head coach Eddie Jones.

Traditionally, England have been known for the strength of their forwards and Jones, the first foreigner to coach the side, wants to restore that reputation having been appointed after the team's first-round exit at last year's World Cup saw former boss Stuart Lancaster sacked.

"The Six Nations is about contest," said Jones, speaking at the tournament launch on Wednesday.

"It's a contest at the set piece and a contest at the breakdown," the Australian added.

"It's never been a tournament known for it's continuity, until the last day of last year when everyone decided to throw the toys out," he said in a reference to a remarkable final round where 27 tries were scored in three matches, with Ireland winning the tournament on points difference.

Jones insisted: "We have a lot of work to do but with the talent we have I'm confident that we can get the fear factor back of having that dominant set piece."

The former Australia and Japan coach knows better than anyone that he will be judged on results, with England having won the Six Nations just once since their World Cup-winning year of 2003.

"When you first get married, you go on honeymoon, but a honeymoon is not like real life" said Jones.

"Anyone who is married knows that. Married life is tough. You have to take, you have to give and make compromises. You have to work out a way to make things happen.

"When I stand up in the team room for the first time, everyone is nodding and saying 'yes, yes'. Of course they are. But I know that's not the real situation. I know we'll have our differences.

"We'll work it out and find out a way to make the team successful. It's a nice honeymoon at the moment."

Jones, however, was well aware that honeymoon could end with his first match in charge which sees England away to Scotland in Edinburgh on February 6 for the latest edition of rugby union's oldest Test fixture.

Scotland came within minutes of beating eventual finalists Australia at the World Cup before losing in the last eight and Jones said: "It's a Calcutta Cup game. Scotland are the form side of Europe. They're playing at home. We know it will be a tough game up there.

"We're picking a (matchday) 23 to do battle at Murrayfield, in front of 65,000 Scottish people who will be going crazy and that's pressure. We need players with the skills to be able to cope with that."

At last year's World Cup in England no European side made it to the semi-finals, with Jones observing: "At the moment the southern hemisphere teams are probably three to five percent better than the northern hemisphere team, but that can be turned around in eight weeks.

"You have to look at where the game is going, because if you want to be the top team in the world, you don't want to be playing the sort of rugby everybody is playing 12 months latter.

"You want the world to be copying you. We've got an idea of where those gaps are and where we need to go."

Although this will be his first stint as a head coach in the Six Nations, Jones has followed the tournament since his earliest days as a rugby fan.

"As a kid I grew up watching the ABC in Australia, which is the equivalent of the BBC, and it was the giants of the game playing the game," he said.

"I still have memories of (Wales's) JPR Williams and Phil Bennett, (Scotland's) Colin Deans. They were great players.

"It's a tournament full of tradition and emotion. The rivalry between the countries is immense, so to be part of it is a great honour and very humbling."

Voting Booth
What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
42% - 7723 votes
11% - 1954 votes
19% - 3525 votes
3% - 462 votes
1% - 169 votes
2% - 437 votes
5% - 903 votes
8% - 1528 votes
3% - 606 votes
Water sports
1% - 167 votes
American sports
1% - 216 votes
3% - 566 votes