England’s misery in Paris underlines home truths facing Eddie Jones

Limp loss to France caps a year of decline for a coach whose methods are under renewed scrutiny as in-form Ireland loom

This time 12 months ago England were sitting where Ireland are now. They had just stuck 61 points on Scotland to retain their Six Nations title with a week to spare and were looking forward to a grand slam tilt on the final Saturday. They had won their previous 18 Tests and their captain was predicting an equally rosy future. “We’re ready as a team to take the next step,” said Dylan Hartley.

What a difference a year makes. Ireland are now deserved runaway Six Nations champions and ranked as the second-best team in the world while England’s confidence is evaporating by the day. On the trains and planes out of Paris on Sunday, after a 22-16 defeat against France, it was reminiscent of the bad old days when English rugby routinely underachieved and no shortcut back to the winners’ enclosure presented itself. Anyone who reckons England remain on course to be world champions in 2019 should stop talking to the fairies at the bottom of their gardens.

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