There's no doubt that Eddie Jones brought some immediate crackle when he took over the coaching reigns at England in 2016. But two years on and something has snapped and England have gone pop.

The popular line to take on this is that Jones has hit his glass ceiling, effectively run out of ideas and levers to pull.

England have derailed, so the theory goes, because Jones is a whirlwind coach: he's a quick fix guy who can put the broken back together but not keep them that way for overly long.

Jones arrived when England were a shattered mess after imploding at their own World Cup and with his relentless work ethic and sharp eye for detail, England enjoyed two of their best years in 2016 and 2017.


The sleeping giant awoke because Jones jabbed a big stick in its ribs and persuaded it to be scary. But now that England have lost three in a way and finished fifth in the Six Nations, those who lauded Jones have turned on him, saying the current slump is evidence that the novelty of the Australian has worn off.

In some respects it is only fair that England's decline should be laid at Jones's door given he was exclusively credited with their ascent.

And to some extent there probably is some truth to him being more of a trouble shooter than a legacy-building coach.

His intensity can build a demotivated side but also crush it after a period as it seems, from what England's players say, that Jones has an expectation that they should be permanently 'on'.

But Jones isn't really the problem. Not the core issue, anyway. What's killing England is fatigue – both physical and mental - and a non-unified contracting system where the players have two employers who both want everything they can get.

England's players are tired. They are jaded and they look like they have no real ability to mentally differentiate one game from the next.

Take Maro Itoje as the most glaring example. He was fantastic when he was in New Zealand with the Lions – powerful, athletic, everywhere.

But within a few weeks of returning to England after the tour, he was in actions for his club Saracens. He was a shadow in the Six Nations, a direct result of too much rugby and
not enough rest.


In any given season England's players are racking up almost double the total game time of their Irish, Scottish and Welsh equivalents and no one needed to consult a spreadsheet to believe that when Ireland were at Twickenham last week.

One side was fresh, alive to opportunity and full of running. The other was plodding through best they could.

Eddie Jones seems to have run out of ideas. Photo / Photosport
Eddie Jones seems to have run out of ideas. Photo / Photosport

Ireland run a central contracting model so they are able to look after their best players all year. The likes of Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray are managed to agreed plans between club and country.

During the Six Nations, they are effectively off limits to their clubs unlike England's players and the best Irish players skip a few games here and there to stay fresh.

It's increasingly the same story in Wales and Scotland, while poor old Jones is powerless to stop his best men from being flogged by their clubs just days after a test.

What's apparent is that there is no rabbit in the hat for Jones to pull out. Those who say he faces the biggest 18 months of his coaching career trying to reconnect with the players and discover the magic touch that he lost in the last few months, can jump ahead and already say with some certainty that England won't win the next World Cup.

They can be sure that Jones will fail the test and England won't reinvent themselves between now and September next year.

They won't be the team Jones wants them to be and while this may be a step too far, it wouldn't necessarily be all that big a surprise if once again England don't even make out of their World Cup pool.

Mediocrity is their destiny unless they can pull off the one miracle they have never managed – which is to strike a vastly improved working alliance with the clubs.

Without a common sense management plan for the players that sees them play significantly less games with more frequent rest periods, England are going to be a huge

What we have seen in the last month or so is what they will be until they spectacular under achieve in Japan, fire Jones and ask the next poor sucker to pick up the poisoned chalice.

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