England head coach Eddie Jones has stated that England's current issues will not be fixed until the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Jones has gone on record in saying that the breakdown issues plaguing England will take 18 months to fix. The Australian has admitted he will be forced to reassess the direction in which England are headed, having been vastly outplayed by both Scotland and France at the breakdown in consecutive losses.
Earlier today, the England boss commented: “The game is changing at the moment which will enforce some selection change. If you don’t have power, it’s very hard to get momentum,” said Jones before announcing his squad on Sunday night.
“I’m worried about the breakdown, we’ve got to sort the breakdown out and find ways of getting quick ball.
“We are not adapting to the referee’s interpretation at the ruck as well as we should. They are painful lessons at the moment.
“It’s a problem we’ve got to fix. It’s a sizeable but fixable problem. We can address it and keep getting better at it, but the reality is that we probably won’t get better at it until the World Cup.
“We just have to assess where we go with the team, the game has changed and we’re not necessarily well equipped to handle it so we’ve got to find different ways of how we’re going to handle it.
“I just think our players are used to playing a certain way and we’re finding it hard to change their habits, and again that’s our responsibility and my coaching is not good enough.
“Sometimes you need to get the lesson before you learn – and this will be a valuable lesson for us.
“If the game continues to be refereed like this then the World Cup is going to be very contestable at the breakdown. I haven’t got an issue with how it is being refereed. If that’s how they want to do it then we’ve got to adapt to that.”
The first of Jones' potential changes comes in the form of Exeter Chiefs backrower Don Armand. The 29-year-old had so far been snubbed by Jones for an inclusion outside of a depleted summer touring party, but will now look to add to his solitary cap earned in Argentina last June.
Whether we see further additions to Jones' squad is yet to be seen, but the likes of Dan Robson, Danny Cipriani, Alex Goode and Jason Woodward will all be in contention for a spot in England's touring party to South Africa this summer.
In addition to England's issues at the breakdown, a high penalty count hampered their chances of securing a victory from the Stade de France last Saturday. England conceded 16 penalties, double that of their average per game during the 2017 Six Nations. Once lauded as the best coach in the world, Jones' must prepare for the torrent of critique heading his way, especially after admitting quite how severe the national sides issues really are.
England will prepare to host Ireland this weekend at Twickenham, with the visitors in the hunt for a much coveted Grand Slam. Should England fail to holdfast at home, there is a conceivable probability they may finish in fifth place in the tournament, above only Italy.
The final round of the 2018 Six Nations will be a test of character for this England side. With their titles hopes dashed, the threat of a fifth-place finish and their head coach openly admitting their issues will take a year and a half to fix, the way they react at Twickenham this weekend will set the tone for their run-up to Japan.