Can England overcome the disappointment of the Rugby World Cup final?

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Can England overcome the disappointment of the Rugby World Cup final?

The climax of England’s Rugby World Cup campaign proved a disappointment with defeat against South Africa in the final. The players have since returned to their respective countries, and attention turns back to the domestic season. Clubs will be in Premiership action until the end of the January and then all eyes are on the Six Nations. Wales are the defending champions and will no doubt looking to win the Grand Slam once again. With under three months to go until the tournament kicks off in Cardiff, early Six Nations Championship odds from Betfair suggest that Eddie Jones’ side will be victorious. But will they be able to overcome the pain of Yokohama’s disappointing defeat?

Eddie Jones’ future

As things stand, Jones’ contract expires in August 2021. While he will be in charge of the next two Six Nations tournaments, there’s no guarantee the RFU will extend his contract. Jones is open to continuing in the post up until 2023, after the World Cup in France. He is set to meet with RFU chief executive Bill Sweeney in the coming weeks to discuss his future.

Following England’s 32-12 defeat to the Springboks, many were calling for Jones’ head. Comparisons were being made with the lack of discipline – which saw the Red Roses concede six penalties – with issues he faced during his tenure with the Wallabies. Discipline has been a problem for England over the last few years, but on the biggest stage of all there is no excusing it. What better way to respond to the critics than by going out and winning the Six Nations?

Rejuvenating the squad

It appeared that England ‘played their final’ during the semi-final clash against the All-Blacks. To challenge and better the defending champions, who were looking for a third successive title, is remarkable. But the hard work was undone even before Kyle Sinckler’s early departure, with concussion. There was no fight, the squad looked lethargic, almost drained, and devoid of options. Jones has a challenge on his hands to pick his players up – the disappointment will stay in the mind of players and fans alike for the foreseeable future.

Despite this, the Red Roses surpassed expectations by reaching the final in the first place. The fielded team was the youngest World Cup team in the professional era, with an average age of 27 years and 60 days. The majority of the squad will still be playing come France 2023.

But Jones has made it clear that he will make changes: “So this team is finished now. There will be a new team made. We’ll make a new team for the Six Nations and that new team for the Six Nations will be the basis of going to the next World Cup.” By his own admission, he is no magician, but the youth within the side must be seen as a positive. Jones has turned around the team’s fortunes since taking the helm, and the best days must lie ahead.

Six Nations chances

England’s opening Six Nations tie is against France – the team they should have faced in the pools during the World Cup, but for Typhoon Hagibis. Having also won their opening three games, but with fewer bonus points and a lower points difference, there’s no doubt the French will pose an early threat.

Despite drawing their last clash in the tournament, England have a reasonable record over Scotland, while they are guaranteed points in their final match against Italy. There to make up numbers, the Italians haven’t won a Six Nations match since 2015 and are quite often awarded the wooden spoon.

The Red Roses’ only two home fixtures are against Ireland and Wales. The Irish underperformed at the World Cup and a major rebuild looms for them ahead of the next major tournament. If critics believe Jones has a challenge on his hands, spare a thought for new Ireland head coach Andy Farrell.

Many are quick to forget the embarrassment of the 2015 World Cup, in which England got dumped out at the pool stages. Within the last four years, the Red Roses have won 39 out of their 51 matches, become Six Nations champions twice and received a World Cup silver medal. Not too shabby!

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