England’s second consecutive defeat in the NatWest 6 Nations confirmed Ireland’s first title since 2015 and consigned themselves to a dramatic freefall in the world rugby rankings.
Following Ireland’s 28 – 8 defeat of a spirited Scotland, England required a bonus point victory over Les Bleus in Paris in order to keep their slim hopes of championship success alive before they meet Joe Schmidt’s side next weekend.
With Ireland having secured a bonus points victory, much as a result of Scotland’s ball-handling errors, England needed to put four tries past a resurgent French side in Paris but alas, it was not to be.
England succumbed to a 22 – 16 defeat to Jaques Brunel’s side and in doing, aside from handing the Six Nations title to Ireland, sees Eddie Jones’ side dramatically tumble down the world rankings.
With an almost obsessive focus on defeating New Zealand and securing the title of the world’s best, England have fallen to their first successive set of defeats since the 2015 Rugby World Cup when the Red Rose fell to Australia and Wales.
Now, under the guidance of Jones, England have suffered another defeat that will sit in stark contrast to their two years of imperious performances since the World Cup.
While the defeat does not impact their World Cup ambitions, it does destroy their good standing in the world rankings. Having distanced themselves from the rest, England were firmly in the chase for the scalp of New Zealand and were likely looking ahead to their clash in November of this year.
Now, following another Six Nations defeat, their ranking now lies in ruin and come the revised world ranking on Monday, Eddie Jones’ side will find themselves far adrift of the world champions and behind Ireland, who overtake them for second place in the rankings.
Having set their sights on overcoming the might of Steve Hansens’ New Zealand, the fact that they suddenly find themselves behind Ireland in the rankings will come with a bitter taste in the mouth for England.
Gone now is the talk of England being the best in the world, only for a victory over New Zealand. Now, following another defeat in the Six Nations, England have now been firmly dragged back into the mix for the also-rans behind the All Blacks.
The fact losing their Six Nations title will likely come with the unsavoury taste of defeat will be bad enough but knowing now that they are no longer held in the same esteem as New Zealand will likely bother Jones and his side more than anything else.