England are looking inwards for the missing intensity that Eddie Jones insists is responsible for the disastrous start to their Guinness Six Nations title defence.
Scotland emerged convincing 11-6 winners from Saturday’s opener to register their first win at Twickenham since 1983, leaving Owen Farrell’s team to begin the rebuilding process against Italy.
Jones has been overseeing a forensic review of the Calcutta Cup surrender and is targeting an immediate return to form when the Azzurri visit London in round two.
A special day. Very proud of everyone involved @Scotlandteam
— Stuart W Hogg (@StuartWHOGG_) February 7, 2021
“We just felt that we held back a little bit and we weren’t our usual vibrant selves,” head coach Jones said.
“We’re really making sure that we focus on ourselves this week and get playing the sort of rugby we’d like to play, which is getting on the front foot and keeping the opposition on the back foot.
“We’re just disappointed we didn’t improve from the French game (in the Autumn Nations Cup). We’re always looking to improve. As I said, I take responsibility for the performance.
“Sometimes you don’t give the players exactly the right information and we didn’t play the way we wanted to. We’re on to the Italy game now.”
Among the areas of external scrutiny has been the performance of fly-half Farrell, with his place in the team now being questioned for the first time since making his debut in 2012.
Jones’ initial response post-match was to say England lacked the possession to launch any meaningful attack, but footage shows the Saracen neglecting overlaps in the second-half, instead opting to kick.
In defence of his captain, Jones said: “There are five million situations in the game and we don’t coach five million situations.
“Once we get on the field the players make all the decisions and that’s always been the case, but the responsibility to prepare them for the game is the head coach’s and therefore I didn’t give them the right information.”
— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) February 9, 2021
England have added props Kyle Sinckler and Mako Vunipola to their 28-man squad at the expense of Harry Williams and Tom West.
Sinckler missed the Calcutta Cup debacle due to serving a ban for swearing at a referee, while Vunipola has been out since November with an Achilles injury. Vunipola has fully recovered and will face Italy.
“They’re both exceptional players. Mako is the elder statesman of the side, an experienced player,” Jones said.
“He’s been training really well. He’s got a lot of conditioning in him and we feel that he’ll be available for selection.
“Kyle was dynamic for us during the autumn. It’s good to have those two back.”