Small gambles paid off for Eddie Jones during England’s Six Nations success
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Easton and Otley College and Norwich RFC coach Jonny O'Brien looks back on another dramatic and exciting Six Nations campaign.
Eddie Jones will be delighted with the England victory over France and subsequent Grand Slam win in Paris – their first since 2003.
The game against France in the cauldron of the Stade de France in Paris was always going to be tough. France are a better team than they've shown. I thought they would fancy this game and they certainly did. They started the strongest but as the game went on, England managed to get a foothold in the game and just about edged it.
The subtle differences of Jones have worked really nicely throughout the tournament. The small gambles that he makes always seem to pay off. He certainly knows his stuff and you could see by the reaction of the players how much it meant to them. When they speak about him they are hugely complimentary. He has come in with a new attitude.
They are obviously very relaxed, they can go out and play the rugby that they want to play. He has a simple game plan that seems to work.
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Wales beat Italy by over 50 points as I predicted – Italy started the tournament well but have dropped off significantly and Wales battered them. Italy may have gone backwards and realistically I think maybe some of the other countries should have the opportunity to be involved. I think whoever comes last should have to play off against some of the other countries coming through – Romania, Georgia and Russia are making good strides forward.
Ireland versus Scotland was a really good game. Stuart Hogg was again outstanding for the Scots and scored another great try. I can't talk him up enough. I think Scotland will be pleased with their performances but not their results in the tournament. They played some nice rugby without getting what they deserved.
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Ireland stood up to the task against Scotland even though they have been suffering with lots of injuries.
Overall the tournament has been quite disappointing. There have been lots of tight games and a lack of running rugby. If I'm honest – the Southern Hemisphere won't be quaking in their boots having watched some of these games. It will be interesting as England face Australia in the summer and Wales head to the best team in the world in New Zealand.
My men of the tournament would be Maro Itoje – what a find he is for England – and Hogg, who has been superb.
My favourite game was the 13-13 draw between Ireland and Wales. It was a pretty special game – Ireland were so dominant in one half and then the way Wales came back in the second was edge-of-the-seat stuff.
I don't have an overall villain of the piece – however, the French team didn't step up to the mark. They have some great players but because of the way the French league is structured – with the highest wage cap in Europe – big players are coming in from abroad and the national team seems to be suffering as a result of this.
In terms of England overall, I thought that Dylan Hartley captained the side positively. He led by example, his decision making was good and he did the basics well.
The new Jones regime has been encouraging and I'm intrigued to see how it will develop. A few young players have come in and given a nice balance to the squad. The Aussie tour in the summer will be a better benchmark of where England are.
I quite like Eddie Jones. He enjoys the mind games and I haven't got a problem with that as long as the team backs it up on the pitch. You can be confident and slightly arrogant as long as you get results. On this occasion, England did.