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England Rugby’s Six Nations Championship and the search for Lions



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England Rugby’s Six Nations Championship and the search for Lions

England have stuttered so far in the years Six Nations Championship. Eddie Jones has Kept faith with his player selection even after much criticism. Here I discuss a possible reason for his unwillingness to change the team.


England stick with what they know

After a loss to Scotland and a 40 point win against Italy, Eddie Jones has picked virtually the same team  for this weekend’s Six Nations Championship match against Wales. Jamie George has been drafted back into the front row, and Mark Wilson takes his place in the back row. On the bench George Martin of Leicester Tigers comes in for the injured Jack Willis. Jones has made very few changes to a misfiring England team and has come in for much criticism from fans, pundits, the media and ex-players for a perceived lack of ambition.

Some of the players in the England team haven’t shown much in the way of form lately. Mostly the Saracens contingent who before the Six Nations began, had played practically no rugby for a couple of months. It’s worth remembering that this group includes Owen Farrell, Billy Vunipola, and Elliot Daly. They’re players who are without doubt world class when they are on top of their game. Until now they haven’t reached the heights that we have come to expect from them. You could probably add Ben Youngs to that group too. The 100 plus cap scrum half has been way off his best.


Lions not in form

But as the old saying goes, form is temporary, class is permanent. I think they keep getting picked by Eddie Jones because he wants to play them back into form with England. Saracens are playing in the Greene King IPA Championship this season following relegation from the Premiership. In the Championship, the Saracens international players won’t get the intensity they need to perform at the highest level .

But there’s another angle to consider for Eddie Jones’s so called stubborn team selection. Outside of the world cup year, the most important year for an international player in the home nations is a Lions year. It’s now looking very likely that the 2021 tour against the Springboks will go ahead in some form. Back in September of last year Jones said that he wanted England to be the dominant force in the British and Irish Lions squad.


The England head coach’s loyalty

Could it be that Jones’s selection policy is partly driven by his determination to get his players selected for the tour? If for example he were to drop Ben Young’s, what impact would that have on his chances of being selected by Lions coach Warren Gatland? Jones has been a coach at the top end of the game for a long time and he knows that given time, the rustiness will disappear and the overall performances of the individuals will improve.

The Lions tour is still four months away. By giving his players time and his loyalty, Eddie Jones will hope that they quickly improve and repay him with Lions caps.


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