England coach Eddie Jones says he needs “to reset the team” after their Six Nations title defence ended in defeat by Ireland and a fifth-place finish.
England’s campaign included losses to Scotland and Wales and a record 121 points conceded.
“It has been a tough one,” said Jones of the tournament. “We haven’t been at our best but we finished the tournament a lot better than we started.”
“We need to reset the team and we will continue with that process.”
Jones believes that this summer, when the British and Irish Lions are due to play South Africa and England expect to take a team featuring fringe squad members to North America, could be a watershed.
“We’re going through a transition period in the team,” he said. “This is almost a natural time for that to happen with two years before the World Cup.
“Those things will happen. We’ve had a fairly settled team for the last four years and that’s natural. But post the Lions maybe there will be changes to personnel.”
England’s performance was labelled ‘pedestrian and ‘abject’ by BBC Radio 5 Live pundits Matt Dawson and Jamie Heaslip.
“It was like an A team against a C team,” said former Ireland number eight Heaslip.
“England were not in the game in any shape or form for 90% of the game,” said former England captain Dawson.
Asked if he still believed he was getting through to his players after more than five years in charge, Jones was adamant.
“Ah yeah, most definitely, I don’t think that’s the issue. If I thought that was the issue I wouldn’t be coaching the team,” he said.
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England were a distant second in Dublin, with Ireland running out 32-18 winners after the teams were level at 3-3 after the first quarter.
The visitors could not claw it back despite Bundee Aki’s red card just after the hour.
England’s porous defence has been exacerbated by poor discipline. England conceded another 14 penalties on Saturday, giving them a shocking total of 67 across their five games.
“It was a funny sort of game,” said Jones. “We thought we started well, the first 20 minutes was nip and tuck and then we made maybe some decisions we wouldn’t have made normally and allowed Ireland to get on the front foot.
“That’s the disappointing thing, we started well and then, for some reason, we just fell off and I don’t know why.”
What the pundits made of England’s defeat
Former England captain Matt Dawson on BBC Radio 5 Live: Yet again we are talking about England’s inability to play the right style of rugby against the opposition. They were not in the game in any way, shape or form. They were not in this game for 90% of it.
Former Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip on BBC Radio 5 Live: It was not a good day for England. England tend to be ruthless with coaches – Eddie Jones could be under pressure.
England’s highs and lows since 2019 World Cup
November 2019 – Suffer deflating 32-12 loss against South Africa in final
February 2020 – France inflict opening-round defeat in the Six Nations
December 2020 – England lift Autumn Nations Cup after extra-time win over France
February 2021 – Scotland win at Twickenham for first time since 1983
February 2021 – Wales inflict 40-24 defeat on England in Cardiff
March 2021 – Dismal defeat by Ireland in Dublin