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How Eddie Jones transformed England Rugby – retaining the Six Nations in 2017

England ended 2016 undefeated under Eddie Jones' leadership having secured a Grand Slam and a 3-0 series win in Australia.

But the caveat was that England had yet to face New Zealand and in 2017 that would have to wait another year.

But Jones – forever bullish –  had repeatedly said England hadn't even hit top form yet and the first task was retaining the Six Nations with the prospect of back-to-back Grand Slams frequently talked up by pundits and analysts.

In 2016 some players had improved (Robshaw, Joseph), others had come in from the cold (Hartley, Haskell) and Jones handed out debuts to young talents (Itoje, Daly).

But the pressure was on. England had gone from (relatively) popular also-rans to firm favourites to lift silverware.

To read the first part of this series – about 2016 – click here.

The 2017 Six Nations squad

Nathan Catt, Jack Clifford, Dan Cole, Charlie Ewels, Ellis Genge, Jamie George, Teimana Harrison, Dylan Hartley, James Haskell , Nathan Hughes, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Joe Marler, Matt Mullan, Kyle Sinckler, Tommy Taylor, Mike Williams, Tom Wood, Mike Brown, Danny Care, Elliot Daly, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Jonathan Joseph, Alex Lozowski, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Henry Slade, Ben Te'o, Anthony Watson, Marland Yarde, Ben Youngs .

Injuries to both Vunipola brothers, who were firmly first choice, saw Nathan Catt's first call up to the England squad with Nathan Hughes once again tasked with replacing Billy's outstanding ball-carrying skills.

Wood kept his place in the squad after impressing in the Autumn internationals with Robshaw missing due to injury.

The third choice fly half was Alex Lozowski with Cipriani missing out (once again).

There was also no Alex Goode.

England vs France 4/2/17 19-16

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Wood, Hughes, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, May, Brown (subs: George, Mullan, Haskell, Care, Te'o, Nowell)

Itoje started at flanker for the first time under Eddie Jones with him moving to that position during the game in the third Test against Australia the previous June.

It was obvious England had depth at second row and the head coach was keen to get as many of his stronger players on the park as possible. Haskell, still not back to full strength, had to settle for a place on the bench.

Daly and May were chosen as wingers with Watson struggling with injury and Nowell on the bench.

And it was May who was perhaps a touch unlucky to be sent to the bin in the 12th minute.

Both sides exchanged penalties in the first half with Daly thundering over a massive kick to leave it 9-9 at half time.

In the second half a lovely dummy kick from Ford put Farrell through who found Daly on the wing. He perhaps should have scored but an excellent tackle saw his foot dragged into touch.

France scored the first try of the match to put them 16-9 in front. Jones then made a decisive substitution: on came Te'o and Nowell for Ford and Joseph. Nowell went to wing, Daly to outside centre and Te'o at inside with Farrell at fly half.

In the 70th minute Te'o – on his Six Nations debut – charged over and England edged the game.

Interesting observations: Te'o made an awesome impact off the bench and already Jones is relying on Daly's versatility (and monstrous boot) to make a lot of switches in the backline despite limited options on the bench.

England vs Wales 11/2/17 21-16

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Clifford, Hughes, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, Nowell, Brown (subs: George, Mullan, Sinckler, Wood, Haskell, Care, Te'o, May)

Nowell returned to the starting 15 with Clifford also preferred over Wood in the only two changes from the France game – and this match was just as close.

Both teams exchanged penalties until England accrued 26 phases attacking the Welsh line. Wales lacked bodies around the fringe and Youngs, was able to dive over for the score.

A set move hinging on a wonderful dummy rum by Scott Williams put Liam Williams clean through for the score to put Wales ahead at half time.

Early in the second half Haskell came on for Clifford and captain Hartley was replaced by George.

The match could have ended so differently after Youngs' pass was intercepted by Biggar who almost raced away. Daly was able to chase back and recovered the situation. This was pretty much Youngs' last involvement in the game with Care coming to replace him.

With five minutes to go Wales' tactic of not kicking for touch proved costly. Davies found Ford with a perfect opportunity to counter attack a tired Welsh defence. Farrell pass to Daly was inch perfect and having saved the game minutes prior Daly went over to win it for England.

Interesting observations : It was Farrell, Joseph and Daly in the ruck that gave Youngs the opportunity to dive over. England scored 6 points off Welsh high tackles on Nowell. Te'o again very strong off the bench. Wales only scored 3 points in the second half.

England vs Italy 26/2/17 36-15

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Hughes, Care, Ford, Farrell, Te'o, Daly, May, Brown (subs: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Clifford, Youngs, Slade, Nowell)

This was the game Italy decided not to compete at rucks causing chaos in the England ranks (we've all seen the video of Haskell questioning referee Romain Poite).

Consequently Te'o, in his first start for England, wasn't given much of a chance to run at the Italian defence.

England scored from a rolling maul but made heavy work of it in the first half with the disruption tactic, since outlawed, proving very effective.

After a penalty bounced off the posts Italy pounced and, almost unbelievably, they went into half time ahead.

At the start of the second half it was Care who gave England the boost they needed with a tap-and-go penalty scored in the corner.

And soon after Te'o found Daly on the wing to score again. Italy, though,  bounced back after some poor tackling by Ford and Brown.

Nowell secured the try-scoring bonus point and then dotted down again the other side of a Te'o try (which came from a strong Sinckler line break).

Interesting observations: Another early sub for Hartley for George brought on in the 55th minute. Nowell, who ended up scoring twice, replaced May in the same substitution.

England vs Scotland 11/3/17 61-21

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, Hughes, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, Nowell, Brown (subs: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, B Vunipola, Care, Te'o, Watson)

Two changes from the Italy game in the starting 15 with Youngs preferred at 9 and Nowell, having scored twice the previous week, preferred over Jonny May (who was not even on the bench).

Daly – one of England's players of the tournament up to this point – would not last long after being the victim of a terrible Fraser Brown tackle which saw the hooker sent to the bin.

With Scotland down to 14 men, and Daly off for Watson, England ran rampant with some scintillating running rugby thanks, in part, to a slick line out operation.

Joseph scored twice, both tries showing his agility on the ball and England's danger with Ford and Farrel both comfortable playing first receiver.

England's third try came from that same Ford/Farrell/Joseph combination before the centre put his club-mate clean through.

In the second half it was more of the same with England's pack dominating the set piece and the breakdown. Soon after kick off Youngs found Joseph running a great attacking line and the centre scored again, his third of the match.

Both teams exchanged tries in the second half (with Care crossing twice) but the big news for England was the return of Billy Vunipola – the key man for Jones' England formula although Hughes had not played badly as a replacement.

Interesting observations: Jones brought Te'o on at outside centre for hat-trick man Joseph and George was brought on in just the 51st minute. He was yet to start for England with Hartley, the captain, still the preferred hooker.

England vs Ireland 18/3/17 9-13

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Itoje, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, Watson, Brown (subs: George, M Vunipola, Sinckler, Wood, Hughes, Care, Te'o, Nowell)

A fit-again Billy Vunipola started in place of Hughes and Jones once again shuffled his back three with Watson preferred over Nowell on this occasion.

Despite the continuity in the team England fell to their first defeat under Eddie Jones and failed to score a try at the Aviva stadium – their Grand Slam dream curtailed.

England were simply second best for much of the game, lacking any intensity and physicality with the fabled 'finishers' failing to do the business off the bench.

In their 2016 triumphs England had made do without a proper 'fetcher' – instead relying on the collective talents of the team at the break down. Perhaps it was this game that showed England were still short in that department. Stander on O'Mahony with both impressive (O'Mahony in particular was devastating at the line-out).

After game Jones blamed himself and not his players, saying he hadn't prepared them correctly. But too many unforced errors meant Ireland had a decent scalp – even if if England retained the trophy.

Interesting observations: Rory Best felt the need to speak to the ref after a few late hits on talisman Sexton (notably one by substitute Wood). England's line out was poor and B Vunipola only last 62 minutes on his first start since coming back from injury. His brother was subbed for Marler at half time.

What did Eddie learn?

Hartley was still the captain but Farrell was taking on a growing leadership role with the hooker consistently subbed off early in the second half to make way for George.

It didn't look like Haskell was the player he once was Down Under and  he struggled for form throughout the tournament. This created something of a back-row headache with Itoje performing well in the loose but getting criticism from some corners for his lack of spoiling at the breakdown.

The Ford/Farrell/Joseph backline was now a firm favourite along with Brown at full back but Jones was yet to settle on a pair of wingers with Daly staking a strong claim for one side with Nowell and Watson fighting out for the other.

It looked as though May could be joining Ashton, Youngs, Parling, Burrell and Brookes on the Jones scrapheap but there was a summer tour to Argentina coming up and with most first-choice players away with the Lions… he might just get a chance to stake a claim.

England's Argentina tour 2017 squad

Cowan-Dickie, Hartley, Taylor, Will Collier, Genge, Hill, Mullan, Nick Shonert, Harry Williams, Don Armand, Ewels, Isiekwe, Launchbury, Ben Curry, Tom Curry, Haskell, Robshaw, Underhill, Mark Wilson, Wood, Hughes, Care, Jack Maunder, Ford, Piers Francis, Lozowski, Devoto, Sam James, Harry Mallinder, Joe Marchant, Slade, Joe Cokanasiga, Nathan Earle, May, Denny Solomona, Yarde, Brown

For the second Lions tour in a row the England captain did not make the squad with Warren Gatland preferring Jamie George – who would go on to start all three tests against the All Blacks.

This was Jones' chance to get a look at a lot of young talent in England, including four teenagers in the Curry twins, Isiekwe and Cokanisiga.

They four of them were among several uncapped players looking to make a name for themselves while the likes of Farrell, Itoje, Kruis and Lawes joined up with the Lions.

For the Barbarians game yet more uncapped players were invited into the squad with the only capped player scrum half Richard Wigglesworth.

England vs Barbarians 28/5/17 28-14

Genge, Jack Singleton, Collier, Ewels, Isiekwe, Robshaw, Underhill, Beaumont, Care, Ford, Lozowski, James, May, Earle, Brown (subs: George McGuigan, Ross Harrison, Jamal Ford-Robinson, Will Spencer, T Curry, Wilson, Wigglesworth, Michael Haley)

The Baa-baas eccentric love of running rugby, and the sheer number of also-rans in the England squad, means it's hard to look into this too much from a Jones-evolution perspective but there are some things of note.

Tom Curry and Mark Wilson both came off the bench to make their debuts but unfortunately Lozowski and Underhill (both of whom were starting in an England shirt for the first time) picked up shoulder injuries which ruled them out of the imminent tour to Argentina.

Ironically Tom Curry was only called into the side when twin Ben was injured during training the week of the match – Tom went on to win MOTM after coming on for Underhill just before half time.

In the absence of Hartley and Farrell Robshaw captained England for the first time since the 2015 World Cup.

Earle scored England's first try of the afternoon with Isiekwe crossing in the second half after a great steal by Curry.

Interesting observations : Lining up at full back for the Baa-baas? Alex Goode whose international career with England seemed to be over already  with just 21 caps. Tom Curry coming on for Underhill… two years later the duo would pack down for England in the World Cup final.

England vs Argentina 10/6/17 38-34

Genge, Hartley, Williams, Launchbury, Ewels, Wilson, Curry, Hughes, Care, Ford, Lozowski, Slade, May, Yarde, Brown (subs: Mullan, Collier, Isiekwe, Armand, Maunder, Francis, Solomona)

Some familiar names littered in the started 15 but a fair few earned their first full caps here against the Pumas including Wilson, Curry, Genge and Williams. A centre pairing of Lozowski and Slade showed that Jones still wanted to ball players at 10/12 but his selection was perhaps hampered somewhat with Te'o being called up to the Lions.

England went down early before Yarde scored a try back.

England's second try showcased the classiness of Slade who dummied the ball out the back to Brown before sticking through a lovely grubber for May to score. Dazzling work.

Argentina soon scored, Solomona, who came on for Yarde, defending in the line was sold a dummy with Curry unable to cover. The Pumas next try also left Solomona not covering himself in glory defensively.

Ford was able to grab a try back after combining well with Slade before out-pacing the defence to give England a slender lead.

But with England trailing with just minutes to go Launchbury found Francis who got it Solomona who bounced off a tackle before racing it in from almost 50 metres out. Some first cap.

Jones said after the game:  "Take Denny [Solomona], he made two horrific defensive mistakes but then scored a fantastic try."

Not exactly a glowing endorsement of the cross-code winger.

Interesting observations: George Ford won MOTM but the standout young performer was Curry who was already making a name for himself. Armand made his England debut off the bench as did Francis and Maunder.

England vs Argentina 17/6/17 35-25

Genge, Hartley, Williams, Launchbury, Ewels, Robshaw, Underhill, Hughes, Care, Ford, Francis, Slade, May, Yarde, Brown (subs: Mullan, Collier, Wilson, Lozowski, Solomona)

Despite scoring the winning try Solomona was dropped to the bench and with Curry missing out it was fellow young flanker Underhill who started alongside old-hand Robshaw in the back row.

Francis was given the nod over Lozowksi at inside centre with Slade keeping his 13 shirt.

England scored early off a smooth lineout with Hughes running off Ford to get front foot ball. Launchbury did the same then offloaded to Ewels for the lock to score his first England try.

Argentina answered back with a drifting Yarde caught a bit flat footed when the Pumas put it out wide.

England were able to score a stunning counter-attack try with Brown showing his skills after plucking a kick out of the air, running it 50 metres before off-loading to Francis to score his first Test try.

But second half an attempted grubber by Francis failed to come off and Argentina showed they were still in the game.

Then there was another error with Slade knocking on but England soon won the ball back, Brown once again running well before finding Care to touch down.

It was Collier's try in the 65th minute (he's only come on 5 minutes prior) which sealed the win for England.

Interesting observations: Not even a space in the 23 for Armand after his sub appearance a week prior. Wilson given 20 minutes after coming on for Underhill. Ford slotted a nice drop goal to give England a 10 point win.

What did Jones learn:

He knew he had a player in Tom Curry with fellow back rowers Wilson and Underhill also showing some promise. Despite being perhaps England's player of the tour 12 months prior Haskell did not make a match day 23.

Slade looked a smooth operator at 13 starting both tests. Ford was probably player of the tour, running both games with the running rugby really suiting his style of play.

Autumn internationals 2017 squad

T Curry, Ewels, Hughes, Isiekwe, Itoje, Kruis, Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmons, Underhill, Cole, Tom Dunn, Genge, George, Hartley, Mullan, M Vunipola, Williams, Brown, Daly, May, Solomona, Watson, Care, Farrell, Ford, Francis, Joseph, Lozowski, Slade, Youngs (Marcus Smith and Zach Mercer were apprentice additions)

At this stage Eddie Jones said his World Cup squad was "80% full" but that the door was open for players to stake a name for themselves – among those given a chance was Exeter back-row Sam Simmonds.

But there were some high-profile casualties – namely Haskell. But also left on  the cutting room floor were Yarde, Harrison and Wood. Regarding Yarde, Jones was quite blunt that he felt Solomona was the better finisher and he picked the Sale wing despite his being sent home from an August training camp.

The uncapped Tom Dunn was also picked as a third option at hooker.

England vs Argentina 11/11/17 21-8

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Underhill, Hughes, Youngs, Ford, Slade, Joseph, Daly, Watson, Brown (subs: George, Genge, Williams, Launchbury, Care, Simmonds, Lozowski).

With Farrell not picked goal-kicking duties fell to Ford in this very rusty England performance.

Hughes gave England a good platform with an impressive finish, gripping the ball in one hand and steam-rolling Argentina defenders but Jones' men failed to kick on.

After landing on his head Mike Brown came off for Rokoduguni (who hadn't been in the squad at first) with Watson moving to full back.

Lozowski played well after coming on for Joseph with Slade moving from inside to outside centre. It was Lozowski's pass finding Rokoduguni which put the game to bed.

Interesting observations : It was this game which saw Jones' infamous 'how f***ing stupid are we?!' outburst – which appeared to be directed at Underhill for giving away a penalty. Slade started at inside centre for the first time for England. 11 of England's starting 15 would be in their World Cup squad – and 15 of the 23.

England vs Australia 8/11/17 30-6

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Underhill, Hughes, Youngs Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, May, Watson (subs: George, Marler, Williams, Itoje, Simmons, Care, Slade)

The head-knock to Brown gave Watson the chance to start at full back for the first time in an England shirt.

In midfield the Ford/Farrell/Joseph axis which had such success against Australia the previous summer was back and so was England's first choice front row.

England did not start strongly and were 3-0 ahead until the 32 minute – the only thing of note being Underhill's substitution for Itoje due to an injury and Hooper having a try chalked off for offside.

Youngs' quick tap with seconds to go in the first half directly led to Kurtley Beale being told to spend 10 minutes on the sideline for a deliberate knock on and briefly Australia were down to 13 men (Hooper had earlier seen yellow for consistent infringements in defence).

Some end to end rugby (Kerevi really should have scored) saw the ball end in Youngs' hands and his kick into space, just stayed in for Daly to keep it on the toe and score a fantastic try.

Australia nearly answered back with a wonder try of their own. Ford slipped off a tackle on Koroibete who offloaded in the tackle to Foley. Koroibete touched the ball down but Moore was adjudged to have obstructed the tackler.

Then, in the final 10 minutes, Australia collapsed. Care kicked off the top for Joseph to chase, gather and slide over thr try line.

Care then grubbered  it through after a scrum for May to score before May returned the favour to Care following poor Australia handling. Some win.

Interesting observations: Itoje's first impact after coming off the bench? Stealing a dangerous Wallabies line out. England benefited from a number of tight calls – this match was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.

England vs Samoa 25/11/17 48-14

Genge, George, Cole, Launchbury, Ewels, Itoje, Robshaw, Simmons, Care, Ford, Lozowski, Slade, Daly, May, Brown (subs: Hartley, Marler, Williams, Isiekwe, Lawes, Youngs, Francis, Rokoduguni)

A first international start for England for George (remarkably, after he started all three Lions tests) with Robshaw named as captain in the absence of Farrell and Hartley.

Itoje took advantage of slack Samoan defending around the fringe to burst forward before putting in a returning Brown. England were on their to a comfortable win. Lozowski scored soon after, Daly taking advantage of poor Samoan play under the high ball.

In the second half Daly scored following some strong carrying by replacement prop Williams.

Slade took a good try (albeit against 14 men) after Care found his wonderful attacking line following a rather static attacking maul.

Daly's second try was the pick of the bunch, stepping in off his wing, taking advantage of poor Samoan tackling before sprinting for the line.

Rokoduguni scored after time had expired to put a stamp on what Jones called a 'muddling' performance.

Jones' team at the end of 2017

Just the one loss all year, and that by four points, meant it was another successful year for England but England had benefited from strong finishes in a number of games.

The Argentina tour had provided an opportunity to blood younger players with Haskell and Robshaw unlikely to be at peak performance come Japan 2019 which was still the goal.

Daly had quickly made himself almost indispensible – not just with his versatility but with his all-round game, running, kicking and passing. He hadn't had a bad Lions tour either, playing a key role in one of their best tries.

England's depth at second row had been underscored with a group of five all in contention: Lawes, Launchbury, Ewels, Kruis and Itoje – but Jones was still trialling the young Saracen at flanker.

Billy Vunipola's injury-plagued year meant Nathan Hughes was getting consistent minutes in an England shirt but there was little doubt that Billy would return to the starting 15 as soon as he was fully fit.

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How Eddie Jones transformed the England Rugby team – first year in charge 2016

In 2015 England were dumped out of the World Cup in the group stages – the first ever country to endure that ignominy.

Stuart Lancaster, having taken over from Martin Johnson, turned England from one of the most hated countries in world rugby to somewhere approaching likeable in his four-year cycle that was supposed to end in triumph at Twickenham in 2015.

Lancaster fell on his sword after losses to Wales and Australia meant the Red Rose could not emerge from the 'Group of Death' – even on home soil.

Eddie Jones, having masterminded a stunning win for Japan over the Springboks, took over.

And in his four-year cycle he transformed England into a team in his image – widely-disliked, aggressive, feared and firmly among the best three in the world.

The team fell short in the World Cup Final last year – a dominant South Africa pack overpowering what was then the most strongest team in the Northern Hemisphere.

But with the players at his disposal – how exactly did Eddie do it? What changes did he make from Lancaster? Which players failed to cut the Jones mustard?

Looking at the 2015 squad as a starting point I am going to look at the evolution of players and evolution of the squad over the past four years.

The 2015 World Cup squad

Jamie George, Rob Webber, Tom Youngs, Kieran Brookes, Dan Cole, Joe Marler, Mako Vunipola, David Wilson, George Kruis, Joe Launchbury, Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling, James Haskell, Ben Morgan, Chris Robshaw (C), Billy Vunipola, Tom Wood, Danny Care, Richard Wigglesworth, Ben Youngs, Owen Farrell, George Ford, Brad Barritt, Jonathan Joseph, Henry Slade, Jonny May, Jack Nowell, Anthony Watson, Mike Brown, Alex Goode (Nick Easter was called up after injury to Billy Vunipola).

There are, of course, some caveats with this squad. Firstly human wrecking ball Tuilagi was ruled out due to disciplinary indiscretions and likewise Hartley was dropped after a four-week ban for headbutting George in May 2015.

They were both Lancaster's choices – either could have been in the squad although there were some doubts about Tuilagi's fitness.

But Lancaster's tenure as head coach had been under-scored by a 'team effort' mentality and indiscretions were frowned upon.

Playing-wise if there was one consistent critique of Lancaster it was always his centre combinations.

Owing mostly to Tuilagi's poor injury and disciplinary record Lancaster never really settled on a first-choice pairing. Billy Twelvetrees had been trialled and discarded, Danny Cipriani was seen as an indulgence despite searing club form.

Lancaster's 2015 squad selection raised more than a few eyebrows with consistent try-scorer Luther Burrell (more on him later) ruled out in place of League convert Burgess who had just two Test caps to his name and was playing at flanker for club Bath.

However there was guile in the squad with Joseph and a young Slade.

England vs Wales 26/9/2015 (25 -28)

Marler, Youngs, Cole, Parling, Lawes, Wood, B Vunipola, Robshaw, Youngs, Farrell, Burgess, Barritt, May, Watson, Brown (subs: Webber, M Vunipola, Brookes, Launchbury, Haskell, Wigglesworth, Ford)

The key match. Somehow an injury-ravaged Wales – playing a scrum half on the wing – came from behind to stun the hosts and win 28-25.

Ford was named on the bench as Lancaster opted for the bruising centre combination of Burgess and Barritt.

England were ahead when Ford came on for Burgess in the second half before the team seemed to lose their bottle.

A decision by captain Robshaw to kick for the corner rather than settle for a draw drew intense scrutiny when it backfired.

England should have won but, as was the case with numerous Lancaster performances, lacked the killer cutting edge.

England vs Australia 3/10/2015 (13 – 33)

Marler, Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan, Youngs, Farrell, Barritt, Joseph, May, Watson, Brown (subs: Burgess, Ford, Wigglesworth, M Vunipola, Webber, Brookes, Kruis, Easter)

A humbling. A thrashing. A humiliation on the world stage. The death knell for Lancaster.

The head coach didn't ring the changes after the Wales comeback with Lawes dropped for Launchbury and Burgess replaced by Joseph in the centres (another different combination).

Morgan replaced the injured B Vunipola at number 8.

In truth England were never really in the match with Australia's devastating attack tearing the defence apart all too easily with Bernard Foley running the game from 10.

But it was perhaps this game which highlighted another of England's consistent flaws under Lancaster – the breakdown.

Michael Hooper and David Pocock had the run of Twickenham with turnover after turnover as soon as an England player got isolated.

England could never get a foothold despite 7 line breaks to Australia's 5 and making 150 more total metres with their running game.

England became the first and thus far only side to get knocked out in the group stages of their own World Cup.

England vs Uruguay 10/10/2015 (60-3)

M Vunipola, Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Haskell, Robshaw, Easter, Care, Ford, Farrell, Slade, Nowell, Watson, Goode (subs: Brown, Joseph, Wigglesworth, Marler, George, Wilson, Kruis, Wood)

It's hard to look too much into a 60-3 thrashing but there are some interesting things to look at.

For one – this is the start of the Ford-Farrell axis at 10-12 which Eddie Jones built Six Nations triumphs around. And M Vunipola started rather than Marler with Haskell also preferred in the back row over Wood in the wake of the Australia defeat.

Goode was given the nod at full back over Brown.

George also played most of the game after coming on for an injured Youngs in the 30th minute.

An aged Easter and a young Nowell scored a hat-trick each with Watson scoring twice and Slade also touching down in the dead-rubber.

Enter Eddie Jones

Japan were desperately unlucky not to get out of their World Cup group in 2015 after shocking with the world with their victory over South Africa in Brighton.

The result immediately made Jones, already highly regarded, the favourite for the England job and once Lancaster decided to resign the bosses at Twickenham got their man (Jones had been lined up to coach the Super Rugby outfit the Stormers but resigned without ever coaching a game).

Even from the beginning Eddie made it clear what his goal was – the 2019 World Cup.

Squad for Six Nations 2016

Josh Beaumont, Cole, Luke Cowan-Dickie, Jack Clifford, George, Hartley, Haskell, Paul Hill, Maro Itoje, Kruis, Matt Kvesic (injury replacement for Dave Ewers), Launchbury, Lawes, Marler, Matt Mullan, Robshaw, Henry Thomas (injury replacement for Kieran Brookes), B Vunipola, M Vunipola

Chris Ashton, Brown, Care, Elliot Daly, Ollie Devoto (injury replacement for Tuilagi), Farrell, Ford, Goode, Sam Hill (injury replacement for Henry Slade), Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Marland Yarde, B Youngs

Jones was not shy about wielding the axe. Tom Youngs, Tom Wood, Geoff Parling and Brad Barritt, who had all started both key WC matches the previous autumn, were gone.

Likewise with Lancaster there was no place in the 33 for Cipriani (much more on him later).

Chris Ashton and Hartley were back but there was no space for Jonny May. The exciting Saracen lock Maro Itoje was called up for the tournament.


Luther Burrell was not recalled after his axing and by this point Sam Burgess had returned to League, his Union experiment over.

The headline name many outlets went with as an exciting talent was Sale number 8 Josh Beaumont, then just 22 and son of former England captain Bill Beaumont. At this stage B Vunipola wasn't the transformative player he is now.

Jones wouldn't be drawn on the captaincy question at first but Hartley was tipped – whereas some ex-pros thought Launchbury would be the right call he had been MOTM in the defeat to Australia.

England vs Scotland 6/2/2016 (15-9)

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Care, Ford, Farrell, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: George, M Vunipola, Lawes, Clifford, Youngs)

England got off to a winning start under Eddie Jones and it was with Ford-Farrell in the 10-12 axis albeit with Joseph at 13 and not Slade (as it had been against Uruguay) who had an injury.

There were three debutants on the bench in Devoto, Clifford and Paul Hill.

But those expecting a Jones revolution were disappointed – although handing the captaincy to a player with Hartley's disciplinary record raised eyebrows. Hartley hadn't even been in the squad in 2015 now he was leading England out at Murrayfield.

But Robshaw survived, partnered with Haskell who became a player transformed on the international stage under Jones' tutelage.

Kruis was able to reach out and score after a strong England scrum and in the second half Nowell dove over in the corner after Ford, B Vunipola and Farrell combined to give him space out wide.

Interesting observations: Hartley chosen as captain, Devoto not making it off the bench. Paul Hill and Goode also did not come off the bench.

England vs Italy 14/2/2016 (40-9)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: George, Marler, Hill, Launchbury, Itoje, Clifford, Care, Goode).

Generally the easiest game of the Six Nations and in 2016 it was no different with England running out comfortable winners.

Two changes in the pack with Marler and Lawes called in for Vunipola and Launchbury. Youngs started over Care at scrum half.

England's first try showed Farrell, B Vunipola and Ford combining again for the fly half (Ford, that is) to dot down in the corner and put England on their way to a comfortable win.

Jonathan Joseph pounced on a poor pass to score England's second, then the outside centre got on the end of a Care grubber for a second and he charged through a tackle from 5 metres out to complete his hat-trick.

England's final try came from Ford passing to sub George who offloaded to Farrell to go over.

Interesting observations: Debuts were handed out to Hill, Clifford and Itoje off the bench. Only one of those would go on to cement themselves at the international level.

England vs Ireland 27/2/16 (21-10)

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: George, M Vunipola, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly)

A close game in the first half Haskell was sent to the bin for a late and high hit on Conor Murray.

Ireland went 10-6 ahead but quick tries from Watson (check out Robshaw's lovely pass on this one)

and Mike Brown (Ford-Farrell working well together again) gave England a 21-10 win with no points scored in the final quarter of the game.

First start for Maro Itoje alongside clubmate George Kruis with Jones close to finding a consistent pack to go with his back three, his 10-12-13 and his seemingly first-choice backrow of Haskell, Robshaw and Vunipola – the latter of whom won MOTM for a barnstorming performance ball in hand, making more metres than the entire Ireland team in the first half.

After the match Jones heaped praise his number 8: "Vunipola was great. He just loves playing rugby. He loves the team environment and loves playing for England."

Interesting observations: Daly made his Test debut coming off the bench to replace Farrell at inside centre, Paul Hill and Goode only players not to come off the bench.

England vs Wales 12/3/16 (25-21)

Marler, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: Cowan-Dickie, M Vunipola, Brookes, Launchbury, Clifford, Care, Tuilagi, Daly).

Eddie Jones made no changes to his starting 15 but on the bench, returning from international exile, sat Manu Tuilagi.

But this was Maro Itoje's coming out party on the international stage. The young lock was simply everywhere, stealing lineouts, winning turnovers and carrying the ball. He even played a key role in Watson's try.

After grinding out a 9-0 lead with three Farrell penalties, England finally broke free. Itoje broke two tackles before passing to Brown who fixed his man then put Watson in the corner.

Unlike in the World Cup England's breakdown game actually became a plus with a strong counter ruck giving the men in white a penalty which gave them a 19-0 lead.

Farrell extended England's lead to 25-7 but two quick tries against 14-man England made it an edgy finish.

Interesting observations: Tuilagi coming on for a struggling Ford with Farrell moving to fly half, Daly this time coming on at 13 in place of Joseph and Kieran Brookes, subbed on for Hartley, has never played for England again.

England vs France 19/3/16 (31-21)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Care, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: Cowan-Dickie, Marler, Clifford, Youngs)

Care was picked over Youngs was the only change for Eddie Jones as England hunted for an elusive Grand Slam and the scrum half earned his call up quickly with a sniping run in the 12 minute giving England a 10-3 lead.

Cole rumbled over for the second try but England's indiscipline meant France clawed it back to 17-12 at half time.

But the Grand Slam was secured when Vunipola picked it up from the base of the scrum, crashed over the half-way line giving England quick front foot ball. Youngs, on for Care, was able to chip ahead for Watson to produce a fine finish in the corner.

Hartley was stretchered off after a head knock but was still able to lift the trophy after full time.

Interesting observations: Eddie Jones elected to make just four substitutions with Brookes, Launchbury, Tuilagi and Daly all left on the bench. Despite Care's early score Jones still replaced him with Youngs in the 43 minute – a change which paid dividends with England's final score.

What did Jones learn?

By the end of the tournament England had a nailed-on back row with Haskell, Robshaw and Vunipola with the backs also consistent from 10 through 15.

It was obvious some players were competing for the same position: Marler and Vunipola at loose head, Care and Youngs at scrum half but in the space of just three games Itoje had made himself almost indispensable at second row.

Brookes out as a prop replacement.

The Ford-Farrell axis was working wonders with Joseph's form also quietening the clamour for Tuilagi – although Jones continued to talk to the Leicester centre.

Questions about Hartley's captaincy had evaporated in the space of five games.

England's Australia tour squad

Cowan-Dickie, George, Hartley, Cole, Genge, Hill, Mullan, Sinckler, Vunipola, Itoje, Kruis, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Harrison, Haskell, Robshaw, Vunipola, Care, Youngs, Farrell, Ford, Burrell, Daly, Joseph, Slade, Te'o, Nowell, Watson, Yarde, Brown, Goode (also called up for Wales match Attwood, Devoto, Kvesic, Taylor)

Lots to look at with this bumper squad including first call ups for the 21-year-old Ellis Genge and 23-year-old Kyle Sinckler.

The other uncapped call ups were Ben Te'o and Teimana Harrison. Despite being injured Manu Tuilagi made the cut but there was no space for the in-form Ashton who had failed to even make the squad for any of England's Six Nations victories earlier in the year.

Marland Yarde was preferred as a wing option and a certain Luther Burrell was back.

Cipriani, Kvesic, Brookes and Attwood were deemed surplus to requirements for the trip Down Under after being called up for the Wales match.

Yarde's selection over Ashton raised eyebrows due to his club form but Jones said: “Ashton is unlucky. He’s a great finisher, but I want a bit more than that … in my eyes he’s not in the top three wings in England.”

But it was with the exiled Brookes that Jones was most cut-throat: “With front-rowers you need guys who want to put their body on the line.”

England vs Wales 29/5/2016 (27-13)

Mullan, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Launchbury, Harrison, Haskell, Clifford, Youngs, Ford, Burrell, Joseph, Yarde, Watson, Brown (subs: Genge, Taylor, Hill, Attwood, Kvesic, Devoto, Daly, Care)

This was as close as Test match rugby comes to a friendly and Jones, having talked-up Wales as 'red-hot favourites' pre-match, picked a radically different team ahead of the tour to Australia – in no small part due to the Premiership final played the day before between Sarries and Exeter).

There was no Kruis, Lawes, George, Farrell, either Vunipola, Goode, Nowell, Slade or Cowan-Dickie.

This gave Burrell a chance to stake his claim on a centre shirt ahead of the tour, and Harrison had his debut on the back row with Clifford at number 8.

England's first score by Burrell showed perhaps what the team had missed in the World Cup the year prior, a fantastic line by the Inside Centre was picked out by Youngs following a line-out maul. Burrell was able to reach out and touch down.

Watson broke a tackle and finished behind his head as he fell to score England's second – the winger quickly becoming one of the best finishers in the game.

England's third try came off a line out with Youngs throwing a dummy before sniping through.

Clifford got his first try in an England shirt when Cole knocked down (not forwards) a Biggar pass, the loose ball fell to the back-rower who ran in from 30 metres.

Yarde crowned a strong performance from a changed England team after Lawes handed-off Roberts and offloaded it to the winger.

Interesting observations: Ford missed 6/7 kicks at goal which would have given England a lot more comfortable victory – despite their high penalty count (12). Genge, Taylor and Devoto (at long last) all made their debuts from the bench. Joe Launchbury winning MOTM underlined England's strength in the second row.

England vs Australia 11/6/2016 (39-28)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Farrell, Burrell, Joseph, Yarde, Watson, Brown (subs: Cowan-Dickie, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Care, Ford, Nowell)

Burrell's performance against Wales was good enough for him to get the nod at 12 with Ford dropping to the bench… but not for long.

Itoje and Kruis started in second row with no place in the squad for Harrison and Clifford despite starting the previous game.

England started terribly with the defensive line in particular being cut to ribbons by Australia. Folau burst through a gap between B Vunipola and Burrell before the recycled ball found its way back to Hooper who easily touched down.

Folau broke through a poor Farrell tackle attempt to score and Australia looked in control.

Jones acted decisively – Burrell was hooked for Ford with the Ford-Farrell axis returning.

Farrell was perfect from the boot to claw England back to 10-9 before Joseph pounced on sloppy play to give England an unexpected lead.

Second half a looping Ford pass – after strong work by the forwards – found Yarde in acres of space to dot down.

Hooper scored again before Kerevi charged over but Farrell's boot kept England in front until the dying minutes when Ford was able to dink it through for sub Nowell to score.

Interesting observations: Eddie Jones didn't blink before replacing Burrell in the 28th minute. Haskell cemented his re-birth with a MOTM performance, especially in defence making 18 tackles and winning three turnovers. England were outclassed at the breakdown in the World Cup. Not here.

Burrell has not played for England since.

England vs Australia 18/6/2016 (23-7)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Haskell, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: George, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly)

Despite scoring the previous week there was no space for Yarde in the 23 and Burrell also faced the humiliation of not even being in the squad with Daly preferred as a centre option on the bench.

The previous week showed England could go punch-for-punch with the Australians at the breakdown and in the backline – this was a victory for defence (England had just 29% possession).

A rolling maul saw Hartley touch down to draw first blood before Australia responded with a similar score.

Australia should have scored again just before the end of the first half but Brown tackled well, got to his feet and spoiled the ball. England's forwards weren't the only ones working on their breakdown game.

Robshaw, once maligned, won a key turnover with Australia just one metre out and England kept immaculate discipline throughout.

However they did however struggle at the lineout with Kruis replaced with Lawes in the 55 minute.

But it didn't matter in the end with sub hooker George kicking it through before Farrell kept it on the toe to score. England won the Cook Cup.

Interesting observations: Much has been made of England's decision to go with a 5-2 split (forwards/backs) on the bench since the 2019 World Cup but that was the case here with the only backs Care and the versatile Daly. Hartley named MOTM but Haskell, who limed off, was imperious.

England vs Australia 25/6/16 (44-40)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Itoje, Kruis, Robshaw, Harrison, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Nowell, Watson, Brown (subs: George, Mullan, Hill, Launchbury, Lawes, Clifford, Care, Daly)

A shootout. Cole scored first for England, then Foley answered back before Haylett-Petty put the Wallabies ahead.

Watson kicked ahead for Brown to score and give England the lead but the interesting thing was what happened next: Harrison (who replaced an injured Haskell in the back row) was hooked, the second substitution of its kind in three test matches, with Lawes coming on to play second row and, for the first time, Itoje packing down as a flanker.

Both sides exchanged scores in what was a sloppy second half.

George scored England's final try leading to a 44-40 victory and a 3-0 series win Down Under.

Interesting observations: This was the first time Itoje played as a flanker, Goerge's performances in this and the 2 Test appears to have cemented him firmly as the No2 hooker in the squad. James Haskell, who had been so good in those first two Test matches, never really recovered from his foot injury.

Autumn internationals 2016 squad:

Attwood, Cole, Ewels, Genge, George, Harrison, Hartley, Hughes, Launchbury, Lawes, Marler, Morgan, Robshaw, Sinckler, Taylor, Vunipola, Vunipola, Wood, Brown, Care, Daly, Farrell, Ford, Goode, Haley, Joseph, Lozowski, May, Rokodunguni, Slade, Te'o, Yarde, Youngs

A bumper 33-man squad and for the first time under Eddie Jones both Morgan and Wood returned to the international fold.

Both were the beneficiaries of a back row injury crisis that ruled out Haskell, Clifford, Sam Jones, Mike Williams and Itoje.

There were six uncapped players in the squad – Sinckler (who had been in previous squads), Nathan Hughes, Mike Haley, Alex Lozowski and Te'o.

No Kruis, Itoje or Watson due to injury meaning England had to switch not only their second rows but also their back three.

England vs South Africa 12/11/2016 (37-21)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Robshaw, Wood, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Daly, May, Yarde, Brown (subs: George, Marler, Sinckler, Attwood, Hughes, Care, Te'o, Joseph)

Wood and May both made their first starts under Eddie Jones at Twickenham against the Springboks with Daly also enjoying his first full cap (at outside centre).

England had failed to beat the Springboks in their previous 12 meetings over 10 years but this ended up a comfortable win for the home side.

Daly and May were both vital for England's first score – albeit in different ways. It was Daly's decoy run that threw off the South Africa defence and Yarde found Brown and then May who demonstrated his superfluous finishing skills.

May likewise played a key role in England's second try, pressuring a retreating SA into a mistake before a succession of spills ended up with Lawes scoring.

But it was Youngs who took home MOTM, sniping well, selling dummies left, right and centre around the fringes.

Interesting observations: Daly nailing a penalty from beyond the halfway line to end the first half and give England a 20-9 lead. Sinckler finally made his debut off the bench coming on for ever-present-starter Cole. Likewise Te'o earned his first cap coming on for Ford. At the end of the game Daly was playing wing with Joseph back at 13.

England vs Fiji 19/11/2016 (58-15)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Harrison, Robshaw, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, Rokoduguni, Goode (subs: George, Marler, Sinckler, Ewels, Hughes, Care, Te'o, Slade)

Eddies Jones used the game against Fiji to give Rokoduguni and Goode both their first starts under his leadership with Rokodugini making his England debut against the country of his birth.

Harrison was chosen as the back row option with no space in the squad for Wood and Joseph was recalled with Daly moving to left wing and Goode starting at full back.

England scored 9 tries to win by a record margin over the Pacific islanders.

Joseph opened the scoring before Daly showed his class with ball in hand to finish from 30 metres out.

Rokoduguni showed his strength in the corner for England's third before two mauls made it five tries before half time.

Fiji showed some fight in the second half with one score in the corner perhaps showing Rokoduguni's defensive frailties.

Goode scored his first international try in the second half before Joseph again took advantage of a sloppy pass to score.

Rokoduguni dotted down for a second before Launchbury like wise crossed the white-wash.

Hard to read too much into such a comprehensive win against a lacklustre team but Rokoduguni showed his finishing skills and Daly showed his versatility.

Interesting observations: Harrison once again substituted early, this time in the 47 minute to give Hughes his debut. Te'o made his debut off the bench for Farrell and Slade returned to the team when he was subbed on for Jospeh in the 65 minute. Ewels came on for his debut replacing Lawes.

England vs Argentina 26/11/2016 (27-14)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Wood, B Vunipola, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, Daly, May, Brown (subs: George, Marler, Sinckler, Ewels, Harrison, Care, Slade).

Wood returned to the squad and the starting 15 with Launchbury missing out – this is the same back three as lost to Australia and Wales 12 months prior. Daly once again started on the wing this time alongside May and Brown.

An early red card for Daly meant this wasn't the easy game many expected but England still ended up winning comfortably despite 10 minutes with just 13 players.

It was a dirty game for both sides with each side seeing both red and yellow cards.

England's first try (a penalty try) came from a strong Farrell hit which dislodged the ball deep in the Argentinian half. A deliberate knock on from the ensuing breakdown made it a rudimentary decision for the referee.

England never really looked in danger with numerous infringements by the Pumas keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

The match was sealed thanks to some good hands by Ford, Wood and Joseph to find May who sprinted into the corner.

Interesting observations: Slade coming on in the 74th minute to replace Brown. Harrison came on for an injured Vunipola in the 38 minute and Ben Te'o was the only replacement not to get a run out.

England vs Australia 3/12/2016 (37-21)

M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Lawes, Kruis, Robshaw, Wood, Hughes, Youngs, Ford, Farrell, Joseph, May, Yarde, Brown (subs: George, Marler, Sinckler, Ewels, Harrison, Care, Te'o).

England knew the Wallabies would want revenge for the summer white-wash and despite the injuries (no Itoje, Vunipola, Haskell or Nowell from that summer side) a strong side was named – with Hughes making his full debut.

England started very poorly and were trailing 10-6 when that-man Joseph once again benefitted from sloppy play before crossing to give the men in white an undeserving lead.

After the game Jones was scathing about England's first 20 minutes. He said: "I don't think we could have tried to play any worse than we did.”

But he decided against any changes in personnel and England reacted second half.

Ben Youngs threw a wonderful dummy (he's got a habit of that) before scoring and although Kepu crossed for Australia England remained ahead until Joseph intercepted a poor pass and touched down.

England finished the year unbeaten. Ten games played, ten games won – four of those against Australia.

Interesting observations: Jones clearly wanted a big carrier at eight to replace Vunipola with no spot for Clifford who had been on the fringes – Hughes was the preferred choice.

Youngs' MOTM performance meant he had the edge over Care for the 9 shirt.

Eddie Jones' first year in charge:

The only ever-present was Hartley as hooker but Robshaw and Farrell were clearly also first choice with the pair only missing out on starting in the summer Wales test.

Having quickly cracked a back three of Watson, Nowell and Brown injuries meant that Daly, May, Yarde and Rokuduguni had a look-in but Ashton was unable to break into the squad.

Daly's versatility was clearly a bonus for Jones even early on in his test career playing at wing and both centre positions.

Slade struggled to break into the 15, mostly due to injuries, but it's clear from the squad selection Jones knew what a talent he had on his hands.

With a fully-fit squad Kruis and Itoje were probably the first choice pairing in the row but Launchbury and Lawes were more than capable replacements.

The first-choice front row was M Vunipola, Hartley and Cole.

Wood had rescued his international career from the brink but there appeared to be no way back for Ashton or Morgan who made training squads but not the final 23.

Also the huge success of Ford-Farrell at 10/12 meant there were less questions about centre combinations with the only real question mark around who would replace Joseph at when he was injured with Tuilagi still tipped as a gamechanger if his fitness issues cleared up.

There was a Six Nations trophy to defend in the spring…

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