Six Nations: England have leadership issue, says head coach Eddie Jones

By Chris JonesBBC Radio 5 live rugby reporter
Head Coach of England Eddie Jones consoles George Ford and the team after defeat in the NatWest Six Nations match against Scotland
England's Head Coach Eddie Jones has taken full responsibility for the defeat against Scotland

Head coach Eddie Jones admits England have an "ongoing leadership issue" following their Six Nations defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield last weekend.

Jones' side suffered just their second loss in 25 Test matches, going down 25-13 to an inspired Scottish outfit.

England struggled to deal with Scotland's tactics during the first half, especially at the breakdown where the hosts were overwhelmingly dominant.

"We've always known that we have to improve in our leadership," Jones said.

"That's an ongoing issue for us, and something that takes time and is not solved overnight.

"It takes development, intellectual input, consultation, discussion, and we are doing all those things and moving in the right direction."

Jones remains confident in hooker Dylan Hartley's captaincy, but feels more leaders need to emerge across the side to cope with adversity, such as that experienced in Edinburgh last weekend and in Dublin a year ago where England also tasted defeat.

"I always give the example of the All Blacks. It took them eight years to come up with a stable and robust leadership model to win the World Cup," he told BBC Sport.

"We are aiming to do that, and we've had two years together."

England struggled badly at the tackle area against Scotland, and failed to adapt quickly to referee Nigel Owens' officiating of the breakdown.

"We've got Glen Jackson [into camp], Wayne Barnes in, we get every referee we can in to give the players experience - we just have to keep learning," Jones said.

"We have a complex game. I think that's the beauty of the game, that's why I love it, and that's why I never criticise a referee after a game, because the referee is always right."

Jones waited until past the 50-minute mark to make a replacement in his forward pack, with flanker Sam Underhill coming on for Nathan Hughes and immediately making a positive impression at the breakdown.

And Jones in hindsight feels he could have acted earlier to try and salvage the situation.

"Maybe looking back I should have been more proactive in that area," he continued.

"Again, I blame myself for the result. It's my responsibility - I didn't coach well enough."

Underhill set for Paris start

Sam Underhill in action for Bath
Bath flanker Sam Underhill sustained a second concussion of the season playing for England against Australia in November

Bath's Underhill is a possible long-term option for England on the open-side flank, but has battled concussion this season, which has limited his amount of rugby.

And while Jones says Underhill was "not ready" to start against Scotland, he could return to the XV for the match against France in Paris next weekend.

"Physically we are bringing him on, and he might be ready to start," Jones added. "If you look at the amount of rugby he's played this season, he's been miles off the pace.

"But he's moving in the right direction and he's certainly going to be in consideration."

Wing Elliot Daly is also likely to feature in the matchday squad after his comeback from an ankle problem.

"He's definitely a class player, and has been a star for the Lions and a star for us," Jones said. "If he's fit and ready to go we will definitely look at him."

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