Eddie Jones defiant after 'watershed' South Africa loss: 'I don't care what other people think'
"The only thing I feel about is preparing the team as well as I can, and I don't care what other people think. Obviously on the results [of the autumn], we're not happy. But we're building a really good base to have a really good go at the World Cup" - Eddie Jones post SA loss
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 27/11/22 12:44pm
Eddie Jones said he "doesn't care what people think" after England posted a seventh Test without victory this calendar year, claiming they are building a base to challenge at the 2023 World Cup.
A lacklustre England finished their autumn in disappointing fashion on Saturday, as they failed to mount a credible comeback against 14-man South Africa in a 27-13 defeat at Twickenham following prop Thomas du Toit's red card.
The loss follows on from a Test window in which England lost to Argentina at Twickenham for the first time in 16 years, beat Japan, and drew 25-25 with New Zealand having been thoroughly outplayed until the final 10 minutes.
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Six Nations defeats also came this year to Scotland, Ireland and France, while they lost one of three Tests vs the Wallabies in Australia over the summer. They also lost 52-21 to a 14-man Barbarians side at Twickenham in June.
The RFU has confirmed its review panel will hold a series of meetings in the next two weeks to discuss the Autumn Nations campaign and how improvements can be made ahead of the Six Nations. The panel has met before and after tournaments since 2019.
On the suggestion England will now enter next year's 2023 Rugby World Cup in France as outsiders after a poor run of results, Jones said he "doesn't care what people think."
"Well, I don't really feel about it any way. The only thing I feel about is preparing the team as well as I can, and I don't care what other people think," Jones said at his post-match press conference.
"I know you do [journalist], so if there's a better way to answer it, let me know.
"Obviously on the results [of the autumn], we're not happy. But I feel like we're building a really good base to have a really good go at the World Cup.
"It's always a problem [to lose]. We want to win, and we don't want to get beaten by South Africa by a big score, and we don't want to have the worst record since 2008, so it's a problem I accept full responsibility for.
"There's a number of young players that got some great experience today, they'll come back better players from that. We've got other players, some of our more senior players, coming back to form, and we're not far away.
"We had five guys all under 20 Tests playing today. That's one third of the team. I think selection wise we're moving in the right direction.
"It was one of those days where nothing seems to go right."
England's performance against the Springboks at Twickenham was hampered badly at the scrum and lineout, with the hosts conceding several penalties at the former. They also struggled to adequately deal with balls in the air.
Jones outlined those two areas for big improvement, and labelled Saturday's defeat as a "watershed moment" for his squad.
"We're obviously disappointed. We lost the air, we lost the scrum battle," he added.
"When you're playing against a team as uncompromising as South Africa, and you lose both those key contests, it's hard to get in the game.
"I can't fault the effort of our team. We went in there with a good desire of how we wanted to play. But when you lose those contests, it's hard to turn the game around.
"We need to develop consistency. Test match rugby is all about consistency. It's being consistent in your basics: winning the aerial contest against South Africa, and winning the ruck contest against New Zealand.
"We just weren't consistent enough in the aerial contest and the scrum contest today.
"You know, I think it's a bit of a watershed game for us. We came into this game with high expectations of how we wanted to play on the back of New Zealand and Japan, and in this game, South Africa were a bit too tough for us.
"I know exactly where we need to improve. We need to scrum better, which is a combination of physical strength, technique, mentality. There's not one key area, and we've got to work on all of those three.
"Because it's difficult when you play against good teams [why England weren't consistent]. Sometimes they take away the things you want to do, and South Africa were good at taking away the things we wanted to do.
"We've been really fantastic in the air, until today, and for some reason we weren't. We've got to go away and come up with a batter way of overcoming being down in areas.
"In terms of strategy, strategy is an interesting word in rugby. We've got to play to our strengths and be more adaptable in that area."