Eddie Jones recognises positive role Six Nations can play amid Covid-19 crisis

PA

Eddie Jones insists England enter the Guinness Six Nations with a strong understanding of the role they will perform during the coronavirus pandemic.

Owen Farrell’s side launch their title defence against Scotland at Twickenham on February 6 and are narrow favourites ahead of France to clinch the fourth Championship title of the Jones era.

The tournament will unfold with all competing countries in lockdown.

Enhanced protocols, including the introduction of an additional round of testing each week and all meetings being staged outside, have been established to ensure the event does not fall victim to the pandemic.

Jones believes sport has a vital role to play amid the crisis and, while realising that operating in a bio-secure environment presents the challenge of bubble fatigue, he insists that is a small price to pay.

“We understand the responsibility. Elite sport has been given an opportunity to do something to help society get through this,” the head coach said.

“We play a small role, but I think it’s a significant role. I can just talk personally about the enjoyment I’ve had from watching Premier League games over the last period of time.

“The first full game of football was Liverpool v Manchester United on Sunday night. I thought it was a fantastic game.

“I’m sure there were hundreds of thousands of other people who watched that game and revelled in the contest, admiring the skill of the players. Our players have got the opportunity to do the same.

“You’ve got to understand that we are grateful for this opportunity. We are lucky to be doing something we love doing. We love rugby.

“We are lucky enough, Owen (Farrell, England captain), myself and the rest of the team, to actually make a living out of something we love doing.

“Of course it’s different, and it can be trying at times, but we’ve got something we love doing when everyone else is struggling so much.

“You’ve just got to look at the news – 100,000 people have died in the UK from the coronavirus, one of the highest death rates in the world.

“It’s a tough time for society and we want to make sure that, because we’ve got this opportunity to do something special, we do it with a lot of gratitude, a lot of desire and a lot of enthusiasm.

“Any small consideration we have in terms of not being able to do what we normally do is just part of the job.”

England were belatedly crowned 2020 Six Nations winners (handout/PA)
England were belatedly crowned 2020 Six Nations winners (handout/PA)

England will attack the Six Nations in search of remaining “abnormal” following a successful last campaign in which they defeated Italy to win the Championship before sweeping all before them in the Autumn Nations Cup.

The only cloud looming over a winning run of eight Tests was a style of play that was a hard watch at times, the general trend in the game for kicking and defence also affecting the red rose.

“It’s called a Championship because there’s a champion at the end. It’s abnormal to win, we want to be abnormal because there’s only one team out of the six that can win,” Jones said.

“The one thing we were disappointed about in the autumn was that we never played as well as we could and that’s what we are always striving to do.

“We want to dominate the opposition and find a way to dominate for every minute of the game, so that’s what we are looking at.”

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