Wales are a long way short of being the greatest team to have worn the red jersey, as Eddie Jones puts it in a deflection tactic designed to take the spotlight away from his side, who are making a case for being regarded as their own country's all-time best.

Something is stirring with England. France may well have been a poor imitation of the team they used to be, hapless and woefully out of step with the modern game. England exposed all those frailties, in much the manner that many All Blacks sides have done and would do. Good teams win: great teams eviscerate.

If England were to prevail in Cardiff next weekend, then they would be well on their way to their second Grand Slam in four years under Jones.


Italy and Scotland remain to be played at home and it would take a fool to wager against England, given Italy have never registered a win, home or way, against them, while the last Scottish victory at Twickenham was back in 1983. It is not arrogance to speak of a putative England title, merely an appraisal of the fact file. Three titles in four years with two slams would be a sign of serious class.

But only if Wales can be beaten. Jones invests every word he utters with the same attention to detail he pays to honing Jonny May's pace or Owen Farrell's kicking.

Jones is intent on steeling his men for the trip to Cardiff at the same time as he seeks to undermine Wales' elevated status by contrived flattery.

The Welsh victory over Italy was their 11th in succession and brought them level with the side of 1907-10 that had Jack Bancroft, Jack Jones and Dicky Owen in their ranks.

A win over England would make this generation statistically the most successful in Welsh history. But the greatest?

Not a chance. The players themselves are all too aware of the feats of those who have gone before them, particularly the teams of the 1970s; of Gareth and Barry and Gerald and JPR and others who won six Five Nations titles (with two shares also), including three slams.

Gatland's team have many virtues but their success is relative to the opposition, as well as to the manufactured staging of games such as the one against the Springboks in Washington in June.

Yet stats are stats and the self-confidence that a winning run breeds should not be downplayed, as events at the Stade de France on the opening weekend proved, with Wales hauling themselves back from the brink — although we did not know quite as much about French ineptitude as we do now.


But England have taken their own game to a different level in the past four months, largely through the step up they have made in their game management.

There are other factors, too, for instance the sharpness shown by the likes of Ben Youngs and Elliot Daly.

The label of "The Greatest" can wait for another day. But, equally, it would be wrong to downplay the current level of England's output.