England’s rearguard victory over Australia showed the “tactical flexibility” they need to conquer world rugby, coach Eddie Jones says.
Jones’ side made nearly four times as many tackles as the Wallabies and had less than a third of both territory and possession, but secured a series-clinching 23-7 win in Melbourne.
“We had to play rope-a-dope,” said Jones.
“We have to be tactically flexible in Test rugby. That’s why I’m so pleased.”
He added: “Other sides will have 60% possession and we have to be able to score points with that possession – then we’ll be a really, really good team.”
‘Rope-a-dope’ was a term coined by boxing great Muhammad Ali after he absorbed a barrage of blows from George Foreman during their 1974 Rumble in the Jungle fight before knocking out his exhausted opponent.
England have an unassailable 2-0 lead in the series before next weekend’s final Test in Sydney. It is the first time England have won a series in Australia.
But Jones says that his side must focus on whitewashing the Wallabies – just as he believes world champions New Zealand would.
“The boys started talking about it on the field and we’re committed to doing that. We want to be the best team in the world,” added Jones.
“If the All Blacks were in this situation now, what would they be thinking? They’d be thinking 3-0. If we want to be the best team in the world, we have to think 3-0.”
Captain Dylan Hartley backed up his coach’s words when asked about the possibility of a 3-0 series win.
“Why not? We’re a team who want to improve and be number one in the world,” said the Northampton hooker.
Jones’ Australia counterpart Michael Cheika admitted that England had been able to stifle the running rugby that had produced a 33-13 win for the Wallabies in the Rugby World Cup in October.
“They’ve seen that we’re going to play a lot of footy, chosen the opposite way and their way has been victorious, pretty clearly,” he said.