England coach Eddie Jones says his side have stolen a march on 2023 World Cup hosts France after their come-from-behind win at Twickenham on Saturday.
Maro Itoje scored a late try to give England a 23-20 victory over Les Bleus in the Six Nations, ending France’s hopes of a Grand Slam.
England climbed up to third on the Six Nations table, level with France and trailing leaders Wales by nine points with one round left. The win will also see England climb above France into third place on the official World Rugby rankings.
More than anything, it will come as a massive confidence booster for Jones’ side, who had lost heavily to Wales and suffered a historic defeat to Scotland at Twickenham this year, denting their hopes of a Six Nations title defence. This is especially as France have been built up as one of the favourites to win the 2023 World Cup on home soil.
‘They’re being described as the best team in the world,’ Jones said of France. ‘And we said to our players before the game we’re going to be racing them to the World Cup.
‘They are a good team, they’re developing, we’re developing, and it’s going to be a good race between the two of us. And we got a bit of a start on it today.’
The win was just reward for England’s improved discipline. Jones’ side had come into the match having conceded a total of 41 penalties in their three Six Nations games, but it took until the 25th minute to concede their first against France.
‘Too many things went against us [in the Wales match], including our discipline and obviously that was a big positive today,’ captain Owen Farrell said.
‘When we don’t give away as many penalties like that, we get a lot more of the ball, a lot more control over the game and I thought we showed what we could do off the back of that.’
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