Rugby Union

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Will Greenwood has made a very interesting point about Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell

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While Saturday's Six Nations finale at Twickenham was about as perfect as it gets for Ireland, the same could hardly be said for England.

Ireland's Grand Slam victory brought Eddie Jones' side crashing down to earth after back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2016 and 2017.

England fell all the way down to fifth place - their lowest ever finish since the competition expanded to six teams in 2000 - while defeat to Scotland meant they couldn't fall back on Calcutta Cup for the first time in a decade.

But even that year's edition saw England lift the Millenium Cup after a win over Ireland; you have to go back to 2006 to find a Six Nations when England won nothing.

Wins over Italy and Wales looked a good kick-off to the tournament, but then three straight defeats to Scotland, France, and Ireland tore all of the good work down.

The first real opportunity for England to bounce back will be against South Africa in a three-Test tour of the country.

Former England international Will Greenwood believes that Jones needs to make a big decision with those tests, however, if his team are to enjoy a successful 2019.

"I genuinely think that the most important thing that Eddie Jones can do and, number one on his to-do list, is to get his British & Irish Lions players, the likes of Maro Itoje and Owen Farrell, to the beach this summer," Greenwood said on Sky Sports News.

"They're going to head back to Saracens now, who have got to go to Dublin and play Leinster in a European Cup quarter-final, and then these guys have got to go to battle again and try and win the Premiership.

New Zealand v British & Irish Lions

"So, come the back end of May when the club competitions are over, the best thing that he can do is to send some of his senior players, who have that leadership and who Jones knows that he can rely on under pressure, to the beach to spend time with their families."

They're thoughts that will surely resonate with Sir Clive Woodward, who also voiced concerns over the amount of Rugby played by England's top players after the Six Nations.

And Greenwood echoed Woodward's sentiments.

"You can clearly see a lot of those England players, slowly but surely, getting closer and closer to the empty sign on the petrol gauge," said the World Cup winner.

England v Ireland - NatWest Six Nations

"No lack of effort [was shown].

But, the organisation and the structure and the freshness that's afforded to some of those fantastic Irish players, who come back from Lions tours and are heavily rested by their Provinces, meant they can maintain their international pedigree throughout the season."

It's a debatable reason for England's performance, but something certainly needs to be done to avoid this happening again next year.

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Topics:
Rugby Union
Ireland Rugby
Six Nations
South Africa Rugby
Wales Rugby
England Rugby
Scotland Rugby

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