Columnist Stephen Jones admits England not contenders to match All Blacks

England's Billy Vunipola, left, and, Maro Itoje, react after the final whistle. photo / AP
England's Billy Vunipola, left, and, Maro Itoje, react after the final whistle. photo / AP

British columnist Stephen Jones had admitted the England rugby team aren't world champion contenders after failing to break the All Blacks' winning streak record in the weekend.

Last week Jones stated that 'poor dears' the All Blacks would be 'expunged from the record books' should England beat Ireland for a second straight Six Nations title.

No expunging took place with the Irish ending England's test winning sequence at 18 - just like they did to the All Blacks last year in Chicago.

England and All Blacks now share the tier-one winning streak record, still six behind the all-time record held by Cyprus.

Writing in the Sunday Times, Jones said that Sunday's 13-9 defeat, England's first under coach Eddie Jones, should be a wake-up call for Six Nations champions.

"Please don't start the inquest by claiming that yesterday was not a real check on England's progress, like the point of impact in Vanishing Point. Some will insist that it could teach them lessons, will help "development" (no one really knows what the D-word means) and could eventually even be seen as part of the grand England scheme of things," he wrote in the Sunday Times.

"Nonsense. Today there is only sporting mourning and the heady position that waited for them, on top of the world as the team with history's longest winning run, never saw their boot studs after all. Massive games are for the winning, the signpost of the great sides. They ended short."

Jones said the loss proved that England can't be considered contenders to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup if they can't win the big history-making matches.

"England stand poised alongside New Zealand, and in that sense they have to start over again. There can be little doubt that Eddie Jones will be fuming, not so much about the lost history, but about the defeat yesterday, this indication that England cannot yet meet every challenge and everything that is being asked of them," he wrote.

"Even though no team can be expected to win every game, the very finest teams, the true contenders for the world title, always tend to win the history games. The ones that really put you in the books for good and all."

In terms of a much talked about potential clash between the All Blacks and world number two England, Jones said that adding it to the 'groaning ­international calendar' would be with monetary incentives in mind over giving the fans what they want.

"Who knows what effect this England defeat will have on the rumoured plans to crudely impale yet another big test match on the groaning ­international calendar," Jones penned in the Sunday Times.

"The organisers will no doubt tell us that it is the game everyone wanted to see - and in a very narrow interpretation it is because England and New Zealand remain the top two teams in the world rankings.

"Only the true saps will be fooled, however, because the game will be the apple of the eye of those never averse to adding a few more million into the coffers - in the case of Twickenham, to grow the vast machine even more and in the case of New Zealand, if reports are true, to fill their begging bowl."

- NZ Herald

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