England news: Eddie Jones refuses to talk up comparisons with Clive Woodward's World Cup-winning side

Despite England's heroics against Argentina, Jones won't admit that his side are anywhere near the vintage of 13 years ago

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The Independent Online

Much more of this and Eddie Jones’ England team will achieve something that not even the fabled team of the Clive Woodward managed to nail. A win against Australia on Saturday would see Jones’ men finish 2016 with 13 victories out of 13 without a blot on their copybook and winning every game in a calendar year.

Woodward’s team should have gone unbeaten in 2003, their year of years, but for a single point defeat to France in World Cup warm-up match when the-then coach put out a second-string line-up.

The latest instalment for Jones came courtesy of a two-try win over the Pumas when England were down to 14 men for 75 minutes, thanks to Elliot Daly’s early departure for a dangerous tackle on Argentina No.8 Leonardo Senatore, and 13  men when they had Dan Cole and Joe Marler in the bin.

In 2003, in Wellington, England famously repelled the All Blacks when they were two men short – Lawrence Dallaglio and Neil Back were in the cooler – and recorded a two-point victory. That showed they really meant business, as they were to prove a few months later in Sydney, and maybe this lot do as well.

Not that you would get Jones, who as then-Australia coach was hammered by England the next week in Melbourne, admitting that his side are anywhere near the vintage of 13 years ago.

“That was pretty remarkable,” said Jones. “I remember watching that on TV and the following week we got absolutely belted by them. It’s not New Zealand but this was an appreciable step forward for us.

“When do you get an opportunity to win a test match with 14 men at Twickenham with 81,000 against a very good team - you do something that people don’t get to do. Now they’ve got this special piece of history. They look around the dressing-room and they know the faces that have done something that most people don’t get to do. And they’ve done it.”

Woodward’s team was full of leaders with Martin Johnson, Jonny Wilkinson, Will Greenwood, Back and Dallaglio all helping to steer the ship in times of crisis.

Fast forward 13 years and it was captain Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell and George Ford who had an on-field chat as soon it was obvious Daly was in hot water. England were 3-0 up at the time of Daly’s card and 20 minutes later the gap was 16 points.

“As soon as the Elliot incident happened we knew what was coming,” said Hartley. “We obviously hoped for a yellow but we kind of knew red was coming. We had a quick chat, we had to change things there and then on the field and I think we adapted very well. We went on to score 13 unanswered points and we got a good bit of control in the game. They were a good attacking threat and I think they showed that but we learned a lot about ourselves today, we adapted well and we’re very happy.”

England put in a defiant performance to hold off the Pumas at Twickenham (Getty)

England played it smart, covering the space where Daly should have been, and played it streetwise by slowing the game down and not rushing to set-pieces.

Chris Robshaw got the man of the match award for a captain’s performance now he is no longer captain and Courtney Lawes and the returning George Kruis stuck their hands up.

Hartley added: “As ever with Chris, it was just head down, grafting, working – doing a lot of the dog work none of us see. If there was a day we needed a dog, it was today. There were 14 others out there as well but Robbo I’m sure will be happy to take the champagne home.”

Argentina hit back with tries either side of the break but Farrell’s boot settled England nerves as they dodged a bullet against uncompromising opponents. Argentina might not be the All Blacks, as Jones was quick to point out, but comparisons of his team with Woodward’s are starting to become almost realistic.


England: Tries: Penalty try, May; Con: Farrell; Pens: Farrell (5)

Argentina: Tries: Isa, Cordero; Cons: Hernandez (2)