England coach Eddie Jones said his side can have no complaints about the referee as they were ‘not good enough’ in their loss to Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.
The loss, in what Jones had labelled a ‘make-or-break’ Test match, all but ended England’s hopes of defending their Six Nations title after they had also lost their opening match of the tournament to Scotland.
England are currently in fourth place and trail Wales, who climbed to the top of the table, by eight points with two rounds to go. Jones’ side will next host France before travelling to Dublin to take on Ireland, while Wales have what could be deemed as an easier finish as they face Italy in Rome, before completing their campaign against France in Paris.
Saturday’s game featured two controversial first-half tries. The first of which came when referee Pascal Gauzere instructed England captain Owen Farrell to talk to their team about their ill-discipline. Sensing an opportunity, Wales took a quick-tap penalty and wing Josh Adams collected a cross-field kick from Dan Biggar when England were not set defensively.
A second came through Liam Williams after Louis Rees-Zammit appeared to lose the ball forward, but Jones refused to blame refereeing decisions for the defeat.
‘We can’t argue with the referee, the result is there in stone and we’ve got to accept it,’ Jones said. ‘Maybe they were tough calls but we weren’t good enough to overcome that.
‘We’ve got to accept that we weren’t good enough on the day.
‘We might’ve had some tough calls but we’ve got to be able to adapt to the game, adapt to the referee – if the referee is going to referee like that, we’ve got to be able to adapt to it.’
However, Jones did explain how challenging it was to overcome the early setbacks.
‘Well, they get points maybe they don’t deserve and we have to fight to get back into the game. It makes it difficult and you have to be good enough to overcome it, they were worthy winners, but we have to be good enough to overcome those, as unusual as they might be,’ Eddie Jones said.
England were able to level the scores at 24-24 in the second half, but their ill-discipline allowed Wales to open up a nine-point lead before replacement lock Cory Hill scored the decisive try.
In total, England conceded 14 penalties, six of those at the breakdown.
‘There were times we gave away penalties we shouldn’t have, it was just from the effort and sometimes you get in situations where emotionally you struggle because of the circumstances and you try too hard,’ Jones explained.
‘Wales were worthy winners. We take full responsibility and don’t blame the referee. But sometimes there are circumstances that happen that are difficult to handle and weren’t good enough to handle them.’
Photo: David Rogers – RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images