BLOEMFONTEIN – England coach Eddie Jones said on Saturday that England must “get our pride back” after losing a Test tour of South Africa following their 23-12 defeat by the Springboks in Bloemfontein.
“I’m obviously very disappointed – we started the game well, but it was a bit like a horror movie,” said Jones after their second Test defeat, at the Free State Stadium.
“It was a like a rerun of last week,” he added, recalling the first Test encounter in Johannesburg in which England succumbed to the Boks 42-39 after a promising start.
“We were trying to work out a solution and pick out a plan... (but) as soon as something small happens, we don’t seem to react well.”
Asked about an apparent scuffle between the England team and the Boks, Jones said: “Both teams wanted to win the game, and England v South Africa are always tough games. I don’t think that (ill discipline) was the case – there was one scuffle with Faf de Klerk and Billy Vunipola... but I didn’t see anything else. I thought it was a good, hard Test match.”
Asked about England’s bleak recent run of form, Jones described it as “a tough period”.
“No-one wants to lose five Tests,” he said. “For some reason we’re just not handling those key moments of the game.”
Though Jones accepted the result, saying the “scoreboard never lies”, he promised that a bounce-back was imminent.
“This team has got a lot of pride, we’ve won back-to-back Six Nations, equalled the record for wins,” he said. “Now we’re going through this bloody tough period. Everyone will fight hard to get out of this, you’ll see at Cape Town,” he added of the third and final Test next weekend, saying the team wanted to “get our pride back”.
“It’s sticking together... understanding what’s important in handling the emotions of the situation.”
Jones said he did not understand why England were struggling to maintain their initial momentum. “To beat South African teams in South Africa, you’ve got to play well and play well consistently,” he said.
“If you don’t control the ebb and flow... the game gets away from you. It’s a great learning experience for the team, extremely painful.”
On England’s relatively high number of penalties he said he was unsure why so many had been awarded. “But I think the players are trying too hard, they’re trying to solve problems themselves and not trusting their team,” he said.
Asked about 2019, he said: “(We’re) definitely looking forward to the World Cup – but first we’re looking at the last Test in Cape Town.”