When Eddie Jones first came to England in 2015, there was a mystique around him that automatically made his side a dangerous prospect. At least, Jones gave so little away and was the master of mind games. Often, this approach would result in making other countries overly wary of what type of English side they may encounter, and in essence, the Australian was consistently impossible to read which led to the opposition fatally overthinking. The results were devastating as Jones won the Six Nations in his first attempt but it was also the style in which England performed that made it all the more impressive. Indeed, their 2016 Grand Slam triumph was followed up by winning the Six Nations again in 2017 and the world could hardly believe the transformation since the dire days of predecessor Stuart Lancaster.
Fast forward to 2022, the mystery around Jones and England is well and truly gone. All you need to do is consult the latest Six Nations betting odds to appreciate this as England finds itself as an outside favourite, and priced as an extraordinary 7/1 to win the competition as of mid-March.
? ‘He is an unusual character.’
Eddie Jones, the enigma. ?
? ‘He is unusual character. An awful lot of it is about him. A lot of players get discarded along the way.’@VodafoneIreland | #TeamOfUs ?
Full chat ➡️ https://t.co/CsrZ2Fuz6p pic.twitter.com/McYSS7mAh4
— Off The Ball (@offtheball) March 4, 2022
In fact, England’s last triumph in the competition came two years ago in 2020 which, it should be said, isn’t an intolerable wait for silverware but the results under Jones at the moment suggest that the wait won’t end anytime soon.
Further evidence of this worrying trajectory could be found at Murrayfield in early February when Scotland was able to retain the Calcutta Cup for the first time since 1984 after beating England 20-17. One of the telltale signs of a failing tenure is when seemingly unbreakable records begin to tumble. This trend provides an insight into the confidence levels of a team and it does feel as if England is running on fumes as far as creativity goes.
Now, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment when the tide became to turn for the 62-year-old but you do wonder if his aura wasn’t smashed by Rassie Erasmus and the Springboks during the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. England was, of course, the heavy favourite going into the match after dismantling the 2015 World Cup Champions New Zealand in stunning fashion during the semi-final in Yokohama.
“Tonight we got beaten by a better side”@AllBlacks head coach Steve Hansen reflects on a tough semi-final encounter with England #RWC2019 #ENGvNZL pic.twitter.com/kBbTXxnfby
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 26, 2019
It was one of the most prolific performances ever witnessed at a Rugby World Cup and had England on course for the summit of global rugby. Looking back, you imagine that if they had managed to take the next step then they would have enjoyed a long reign at the top. For one reason or other, however, England was unable to see the job through and slipped within sight of its goal. In many respects, ever since Siya Kolisi lifted the Webb Ellis Cup in 2019, England has slowly become more predictable.
Jones’ once revered aloofness has now turned into a desperate attempt to try and explain team selection after a string of bad results, and the writing is certainly on the wall. Indeed, the cracks were not as much appearing as they are now dramatically widening at a frantic pace with England looking short of ideas after seven years with Jones at the helm.