EDINBURGH, United Kingdom, Feb 25 – England coach Eddie Jones is confident a stunning 25-13 defeat by Scotland will provide his Six Nations champions with the “best lessons in the world”.
Scotland threw this season’s title race wide open with their first win over oldest rivals England in a decade.
The first half saw Scotland score three tries — a tally made all the more remarkable given it was 14 years since they had last crossed England’s try-line in a Calcutta Cup clash at Murrayfield.
Huw Jones went over for two tries and Sean Maitland also touched down, with impressive fly-half Finn Russell orchestrating all three scores before Scotland closed out the match.
This was just England’s second defeat in 26 Tests under Eddie Jones, whose long-term aim with the Red Rose brigade is to win next year’s World Cup.
But Saturday’s defeat raised some major questions over England’s ability to dethrone the All Blacks in Japan, with Jones’s men conceding a costly 13 penalties as they were over-run by a ferocious Scotland at the breakdown.
“These lessons you don’t want to have but they are the best lessons in the world,” said Eddie Jones.
“We will learn a lot from this,” the Australian insisted. “Unfortunately the lesson isn’t sometimes nice to take but it is a great lesson for us.
“We weren’t there in the first half and I take responsibility for it.”
– ‘Not the end of the world’ –
The former Australia and Japan coach added: “We are a team that are in a competition where everyone wants to beat us and every game is a challenge for us.
“It is not the end of the world –- the end of the world might come when the Beast From the East comes.”
England will look to revive their title bid away to France on March 10 and Jones insisted: “Regardless of the result you look at things you haven’t done well and you prepare the team for the next game.
“The loss hurts, with a win you get a good feeling. There is one happy team here, one dressing room singing songs and the other one is kicking stones and we are the ones kicking stones.”
Reports emerged before kick-off of a fracas in the tunnel between England’s Owen Farrell and Scotland’s Ryan Wilson following the pre-match warm-ups.
Both camps played down the significance of the incident, with Jones saying: “I don’t know about it. If there was, we shouldn’t let that detract from a great Scotland victory.
“Don’t get distracted by other things.”
This was arguably Scotland’s best performance since coach Gregor Townsend took charge last year.
Scotland played well in a 22-17 defeat by world champions New Zealand at Murrayfield in November, but they never looked like letting things slip against an England side who are second in the global rankings.
“It is the biggest win from a coaching perspective,” said Townsend. “We came close to beating the number one team in the world and have beaten the number two.
“Our defence was outstanding in both games but tonight we finished off our opportunities.
“It was not the complete performance, but the way we defended in the second half when the game was won and keeping them out was very satisfying.”
Next up for Scotland is a match away to Ireland, the only team left in this season’s Six Nations who can complete a Grand Slam.
It is eight years since Scotland won a Six Nations game on the road anywhere other than Rome — a 23-20 victory against Ireland in Dublin.
But having ended one unwanted record against England, former Scotland playmaker Townsend challenged his side to snap another.
“We have issues away from home,” he said. “We have to show a truer picture of what we are about when we are away.”