Ya gotta love that Eddie Jones‚ don’tcha mate?
And even more after England stole a 12-11 over South Africa in a thunderingly physical match of butt ugly rugby at Twickenham on Saturday.
“We’ve had three training runs‚” the irascible Australian‚ England’s coach‚ said of his charges.
“They (the Springboks) have been together for three months. Understand that.
“To put in a performance like that‚ I think the players deserve enormous credit for it.
“We had a team today of under 450 caps. To win a World Cup you need 800‚ 900 caps.
“And the way they stuck in the fight. When you get into those arm wrestles‚ someone’s gonna give. And we didn’t give.
“We hung in there long enough‚ and when young guys do that it’s a really good sign of their future in Test match rugby.
“It was 8-6 (to South Africa) at halftime. And we said‚ ‘It’s an arm wrestle‚ boys‚ we gotta stay in there; stay in there and believe‚ keep doing the simple things well‚ keep grinding away and we’ll get the result’. “And that’s what happened.”
As satisfied as Jones was on Saturday‚ he knew things wouldn’t get any easier for England.
“We got New Zealand next week. We can’t wait‚ mate. They’re all probably drinking cups of tea‚ maybe having some scones‚ saying‚ ‘Aw‚ we’ll take these guys’.
“They’ll be confident and we can’t wait to get ’em. Hundred percent‚ mate.”
Did Jones honestly think his limited team‚ whose victory on Saturday was due in no small part to flyhalf Owen Farrell’s vicious high‚ armless hit on replacement wing André Esterhuizen‚ in the 81st minute and within penalty range‚ could beat the best team in the world?
“Ya never know‚ mate. New Zealand does funny things to ya blood.”
But‚ being the cryptic‚ crafty coach he is‚ Jones had a plan …
“New Zealand’s a different kettle of fish. They want the game to be an athletic contest. We won’t be wearing singlets [vests] and running shorts out there. It’ll be a proper game of rugby‚ so we’ll just wait and see.”
Then‚ with typical counter-intuition‚ he promptly disavowed the value beating the Boks would earn his team.
“How confident we are doesn’t really matter. Confidence is not a state that I’ve ever seen. Have you? I don’t know what it means‚ confidence.
“You’re either working hard or not working hard. You’re either working hard and you’re getting results‚ or you’re working hard and you’re not getting results.
“We worked hard today and got results.”
Saturday’s result was only England’s fourth win in 10 matches this year‚ a record that has made Jones’ performance a focus of much of what has been written about the team in the English press.
So he had his chance to rail at his critics‚ and he took it when they tried to shift the focus of Saturday’s press conference to the looming challenge of taking on the All Blacks.
“I don’t understand this‚ guys‚” Jones said‚ his arms stretched wide‚ his eyes burning bright.
“Y’know‚ we’re a bloody good team.
“We’ve lost a few games; we played tough today and we won. Why’s that [match against New Zealand] gotta be the most important game?
“Because you guys want to sack me. Is that why?
“Well‚ ya gonna do it at some stage. You know that. You know that!
“If I stay long enough you’re going to get me sacked.
“So one day you’ll be happy here‚ boys. You’ll come in and say‚ ‘Aw‚ fantastic — we got another bloke we can terrorise’.
“It was a good game of Test match rugby today. We’re happy‚ they’re not so happy.”
And with that he was gone into the autumn evening‚ his snake oil sold‚ his suddenly nervous naysayers put in their place‚ his team relieved to have got out of jail.
Ya gotta love that Eddie Jones.