Eddie Jones has responded to England’s World Cup final defeat by South Africa by admitting the current team is “finished”.
A 32-12 rout in Yokohama on Saturday crushed the nation’s hopes of lifting the Webb Ellis Trophy for the second time after expectations had been raised by emphatic victories over Australia and New Zealand in the previous rounds.
Jones is contracted to remain England head coach until 2021 and the Rugby Football Union is expected to offer fresh terms that will take him to the next World Cup in France.
But a number of the 31-man squad taken to Japan are to be jettisoned for next year’s Six Nations as Jones begins rebuilding for the next assault on the global stage.
“I tell you what happens to teams – they evolve,” said Jones.
“Some guys will lose desire, some guys will lose fitness, some guys will get injuries, and there’ll be young guys come through. So this team is finished now.
“There will be a new team made – we’ll make a new team for the Six Nations and that new team for the Six Nations will be the basis of going to the next World Cup.
“And I’ll have them for the first two years. And you’re so lucky because you’ve got me for another two years.”
In the build-up to the final Jones spoke about the importance of not “inventing shadows”, but as the dust began to settle on a deflating performance against South Africa that concluded an otherwise outstanding World Cup, he fell into that trap himself.
“I’m so proud of the players, the way they’ve prepared, the way they’ve worked,” Jones said.
“They’re great ambassadors for the sport and great ambassadors for England and I’m disappointed there’s such a negative attitude about our performance.
“We’ve taken a team that couldn’t get out of the pool at the last World Cup and got beaten in the final, but there’s all this negativity about their performance. I find it incredible, I find it incredible.
“Remember three weeks ago I was going to get the sack. There was going to be blood on the walls at Twickenham.
“Well, we finished ahead of 18 other teams. We weren’t good enough against South Africa, we weren’t good enough. Sorry. I apologise. What do you want me to say?
“What do you want me to say? Tell me what you want me to say. We weren’t good enough, we got beaten by a better team.
“I’ve been coaching 23 years, it happens periodically. You think you’ve got a team right and ready to go and for some reason they don’t perform to the level you expect.
“Why, I don’t know. I’ve spoken to a lot of experienced coaches about it and everyone says the same thing, you just don’t know. You’re better off just putting that game to the side and get on with it.”
The foundations for England’s defeat were laid by an overwhelmed scrum that conceded six penalties in one of the bleakest days for a traditional source of Red Rose strength.
“It’s sport. We’ve got 23 individuals, they’ve got 23 individuals and the psychological level of teams is never constant. They are always changing. And we got caught,” Jones said.
“They won a significant area of the game which was the scrum which tended to trickle down into the rest of the game and then you are battling to get on the front foot.
“We couldn’t get out of it. We tried to break it and sometimes you lose your wicket, which happened. Full credit to South Africa they scrummed well and that’s the game.
“And if you can’t get on the front foot then you look like a team that lacks ideas, lacks energy, looks tired. All those things come into play.
“The reality is something wasn’t right and we couldn’t fix it on the field. And that happens.”