Fitzpatrick warns England they could suffer same fate as All Blacks

Eddie Jones has been warned he could suffer the same fate as the World champion All Blacks as he attempts to lead England to a record 19 successive wins against Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

The All Blacks were left on 18 wins after Ireland pulled off a shock 40-29 victory in Chicago in November and now the Irish are waiting in Dublin to ruin Jones’s bid to make rugby history.

A remarkable 61-21 win over Scotland allowed Jones’s men to retain the title with one round of matches to go and took England to 18 wins – 17 under Jones plus the World Cup success over Uruguay in 2015. With England poised to eclipse the New Zealand mark, All Black great Sean Fitzpatrick, who is based in London and is a director of Harlequins, is offering words of caution based on his wide knowledge of British and Irish rugby.

Fitzpatrick , the Laureus World Sports Academy Chairman, told Standard Sport said:” The game in Dublin will be the big challenge and a telling match for England.

“While I see England really challenging New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup, Ireland won’t be that far behind. England cannot afford to get too far ahead of themselves. I didn’t really think anyone would get as close to the All Blacks winning record so quickly – I didn’t see that coming. It is a great achievement and like the All Blacks, England don’t go away in games. The great South African teams I played against just wouldn’t lie down.

“ It is very difficult to know the answer to the question about how close England are to the All Blacks because they are not playing each other.”

England won’t face the All Blacks until 2018 due to the current international match schedule leading ex-All Black Zinzan Brooke to insist “To win 19 consecutive matches would be an achievement, but you have to beat the No1 team in the World in that run. England can beat the All Blacks record but you would have hoped that in those 19 matches they would have come across New Zealand.

“ Ireland will chuck the kitchen sink at England in that Dublin match. Eddie is a bit of a spin doctor and a crafty individual who is doing quite well and they are using their bench really well .”

Fitzpatrick tempered his praise for England with surprise that Jones had not stuck with the style of play that had defeated Australia, South Africa, Argentina and Fiji in the Autumn internationals and believes this indicates there still work to be done on the players’ skills.

He explained:”Watching the Six Nations it is a different style of rugby compared to how England played in the Autumn against the Southern Hemisphere teams. It is a more attritional game and not as open as the way Ireland played against the All Blacks in Chicago. I find it strange that you would change style because of the weather at this time of year and maybe their skills set is still developing even though they are better than they were 12 months ago.

“ Eddie has developed a game plan and selected the players for that style and asked them to step up. He has increased their skills and they look a lot more focussed on what they are doing and winning becomes a habit. They realise that the hard work they are putting in is paying dividends. Eddie has also, with the injuries, built a massive squad and in 2015 the All Blacks had 31 players who could have started the World Cup final without losing too much form.

“They also won a lot of games in the final quarter through the use of the replacements bench with players who can change a match and this what England have been doing. He had been missing the Vunipola’s but it meant guys like Nathan Hughes got experience and he is going to need players like that in 2019. You have to take your hat off to Eddie and the way he is preparing the team.”

If Jones leads England to a world record 19 wins will he collect one of the Laureus World Sports Awards next year? “ Maybe we could put him up for Breakthrough of the Year?:” added Fitzpatrick.
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as seen in Evening Standard

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