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Saturday 28 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
# under scrutiny
Kinsella on rugby: Why England should hold their nerve and stand by Eddie Jones
Jones has the highest win percentage of any England coach ever.

The full version of this article is available exclusively to members of the The42. To sign up, read the entire piece and enjoy the many benefits of membership including access to the unmissable Rugby Weekly podcast with Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Eoin Toolan, click here. 

EVERYONE IS TALKING about win percentages in Test rugby right now, so let’s remind ourselves of an important fact in this regard.

Eddie Jones has the highest win percentage of any England coach ever, even after what has undoubtedly been a very disappointing 2022 that included six defeats. Despite losing to Scotland, France, Ireland, Australia, Argentina, and South Africa this year, Jones’ 74% win rate is still ahead of every other England boss that has gone before him.

Three more Tests in charge of England would take Jones past Clive Woodward’s record of 83 games in charge of the English and his win rate is still above Woodward’s 71%. Jones doesn’t have a World Cup trophy to his name but he brought England to a final in stunning fashion in 2019 with one of the greatest team performances this writer has seen against New Zealand in the semi-final. Jones and Woodward both have a Grand Slam apiece, as well as two further Six Nations successes.

Whether Jones gets a chance to nudge ahead with another Six Nations title or a World Cup success next year remains to be seen. There is a possibility that he could be sacked following the RFU’s review of England’s underwhelming autumn campaign. The fact is that they won’t only consider the last four games, but the entirety of this year and also Jones’ historical record as a Test coach.

Let’s look at 2022 first. It began with a narrow defeat away to Scotland that really could have gone England’s way. Wins against Italy and Wales followed, then Jones’ men gave Ireland a hell of a battle in Twickenham despite a red card after just two minutes. Losing away to France cannot be seen as a disaster these days. Third place in the Six Nations isn’t great but it was a year in which England only had two home games.

They went to Australia in the summer and recovered from a first-Test defeat to win the series. Even without a whole army of injured players, the Wallabies have shown this autumn that they are still powerful and hard to beat, so a series success Down Under cannot be easily dismissed. 

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The defeats to the Pumas and Springboks this month involved poor performances, no doubt, but those are two good teams. How often have we recently discussed just how even Test rugby is now? For some reason, there persists an arrogance when it comes to commentary on England, an expectation that the wildly competitive reality of top-level Test rugby doesn’t apply to them . . .  

To read this analysis in full and enjoy the many benefits of The42 membership including access to the unmissable Rugby Weekly podcast with Gavan Casey, Murray Kinsella, Bernard Jackman and Eoin Toolan, click here.  

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