Former England head coach Sir Clive Woodward knows a thing or two about winning. He, after all, led the Red Rose to World Cup glory over Australia in 2003.
Following their Six Nations victory over Wales on Saturday, the former boss is backing Eddie Jones to repeat his own feat and lead England to their second title in 2019.
Jones continued his incredible run as England head coach with a 21-16 defeat of Wales in Cardiff, thus keeping alive a 16 game winning streak and tightening their grip at the top of the Six Nations table.
Having gone the whole of 2016 unbeaten, including a Grand Slam Six Nations title run, Jones has his England squad in imperious form, despite being hampered by injury.
From what Woodward witness on Saturday, he has, via his column in the Daily Mail, backed the Australian coach to emulate his own feat in two years time.
“Saturday night at the Principality Stadium was the performance and win that convinced me that England under Eddie Jones have it in them to kick on and arrive in Japan in 2019 as the world’s No 1 ranked team and favourites to win rugby’s biggest prize.
“From this point on opposition teams will be obsessing on how to beat England just as much as how to defeat New Zealand.”
As England close in on New Zealand’s 18 match winning streak, it is becoming increasingly clear that Jones has indeed fashioned a squad of players are comparable with the mighty All Blacks.
Extolling praise on the current crop of English world beaters, Woodward adds,
“That’s not to say England were perfect against Wales, far from it. Wales dominated large periods but increasingly I am impressed by England’s coolness under fire and how key players are making the right decisions and big plays under pressure. England are doing lots of little things well under extreme pressure.
“England, as they did against France, kept their cool under pressure and produced the goods in the final 10 minutes, when so many Test matches are decided.”
In order to beat the All Blacks streak of 18 successive test victories, England will need to overcome Italy and Scotland at Twickenham before a mouth watering visit to Dublin for what is looking like a title decider with Ireland on St. Patrick’s weekend.
The historic rivalry between Ireland and England, the chance at going 19 games in-a-row, a potential title decider, all taking place in Dublin on the weekend of Ireland’s national holiday, now has the making of something incredible that only the Six Nations seems to be able to deliver.
Will England keep the streak alive or are Ireland set to spoil the party? On March 18th, assuming no shocks in the preceding rounds, fans are in for a real treat.
Gary Brennan, Pundit Arena
This week’s edition of The Oval Office, we speak with Niall Ronan, David Arnott and talk all things Six Nations.