Eddie Jones says England do not yet have any world class players
England head coach Eddie Jones has overseen a huge upturn in fortunes for England rugby in the last 12 months.
They have won 14 consecutive matches under Jones after crashing out of the 2015 World Cup group stage.
The likes of Maro Itoje, Owen Farrell and Ben Youngs have all developed into top names in rugby.
But Jones, echoing former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson’s claim that football currently has only two world class players, believes England are still a long way off that level.
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In cricket you’ve got to average 60 to be world class
“Sir Alex says that after twenty-six years at the biggest club in the world and he has seen two world class players,” Jones said, referring to Ferguson naming Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo as the two stand-out players right now.
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“You’ve got to understand the connotation of world class.
“If you’re a world class player then if someone picks a World XV. He picks that player. It’s a unanimous choice. If you look back at the New Zealand side in the past eight years. Richie McCaw and Dan Carter are the unanimous choices. They’re world class players because in every game they played they were eight or nine out of 10. They never slipped down to a six or a five. That’s being world class.
“In cricket you’ve got to average 60 to be world class.”
Sir Alex Ferguson (right) says Cristiano Ronaldo is a rare world class player in football
Messi and Ronaldo have contested for the Ballon d’Or – football’s greatest individual prize – since 2008.
Former United manager Ferguson also named Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs and Eric Cantona alongside Ronaldo as the footballers he believed reached world class status.
“In rugby we’ve got some players doing exceptionally well. But that doesn’t mean they’re world class yet,” Jones said of his England team.
“It doesn’t mean they’re not great players. It’s not a detriment on English rugby that we don’t have that.
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“Now, obviously we want to have by 2019 four or five world class players. Because then that gives you such a solidity of performance that it doesn’t matter what game you put in, you’re going to play well because you’ve got those four or five guys who will play eight out of 10 every game. We’ll get there.”
Asked if there are any world class players among the competing teams at the Six Nations, Jones said: “I haven’t thought about that. I don’t coach the other players so I’m not concerned.”