‘We made some silly mistakes’ - Eddie Jones on England performance following Argentina loss

Eddie Jones believes that his England team made 'silly mistakes' in their loss to Argentina
©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Following England’s defeat to Argentina at Twickenham Stadium, head coach Eddie Jones described his team’s loss as “frustrating”.

Sitting in front of the media, much like on Friday afternoon the Australian seems relaxed.

Opening up their Autumn Nations Series campaign with a loss was probably the thing that England wanted least, especially against opposition that they will be facing off with in their opening game of the Rugby World Cup next year.

Argentina were clinical. Kicking for points whenever the opportunity presented itself, Los Pumas ended the game on the winning side largely thanks to the kicking of Emiliano Boffelli, a stunning try for the wing and Santiago Carreras’ intercept score from a loose Owen Farrell pass in midfield.

The new combination in the midfield that included Farrell, Manu Tuilagi and Marcus Smith failed to fire, while Joe Cokanasiga, Jack Nowell and Freddie Steward largely found themselves out of the game.

Add to that England having given away 10 penalties and turning over the ball on 13 occasions, it was very much a day to forget under grey skies in West London.

“Frustrating game,” Jones said. “At times we played really well and then we made some elementary mistakes, made some individual mistakes that kept on inviting them back into the game.

“In the end it was ‘you kick a penalty goal; we kick a penalty goal’. They got the intercept try that gave them a bit of breathing space. But yeah, it’s hard to put your finger on it.

“It’s a great opportunity for us now, because we’re under the pump a bit which is good, and I think we’ll respond really well. I’m looking forward to it.”

Immediately after the game, Jones has no concerns when it comes to playing personnel. Manu Tuilagi did limp off to be replaced by Henry Slade, his head coach saying that the Sale Sharks centre only came off because of a blister. So, no alarm bells ringing there.

On the whole, there were very few injuries at all, the game played with little to no issues at all and, almost seeming like a training run with the crowd not really finding their voice until Argentina scored their back-to-back tries to open up the second half, Jones even describing there being a “dullness” around the Test.

Even when it comes to being better next week against Japan, the 61-year-old is calm and in spite of his team’s discipline in the game, sees the penalties that went against his side as manageable.

“Now we are getting up to 30 penalties a game,” Jones said. “That is the reality. Most Test matches now are around 30, which is what? 33 and a third per cent increase on what it used to be. 

And we want to be better in that area, but when I look at it, I look at; is it a structural issue? Is a system we’ve got in place that’s causing us to make errors? Or is it an individual decision-making error?

“If it’s individual decision-making error we’ve got to go to the individual, reconstruct a good habit and deconstruct his bad habit. And sometimes that takes time.”

When Japan come to Twickenham next Saturday, Jamie Joseph’s team will be two weeks removed from their loss to New Zealand in Tokyo. That was a game that finished 38-31 in favour of the All Blacks, Ian Foster’s team surviving Brodie Retallick’s red card to get the victory.

The All Blacks will be England’s opposition the weekend later and then South Africa, the calibre of this Autumn’s run of fixtures frankly staggering. But, even after defeat Jones sees more positives than negatives in his team’s performance, the bigger picture of a World Cup clearly in the forefront of his mind.

“I’m not sitting here thinking we’ve got really strong problems within the team,” Jones said. “For the most of the game I thought we dominated. If we didn’t go out and dominate the game, I might be sitting here and thinking ‘these blokes [media] have got a good right to get stuck into us’ and we’d have a bit of a fight.

“We don’t need to fight today because I feel like the team went out and played how they wanted to play. We made some silly mistakes but can control those pretty easily. They’re all controllable – no real big structural issues in our game.

“You always want a more potent attack, but sometimes it doesn’t go like that and takes a bit of time to get right.”