Perhaps with emblems of the 2007 World Cup still lingering in his mind, former Irish head coach Eddie O'Sullivan believes that English coach Eddie Jones erred in trumpeting England's perparation ahead of what became a stunning capitulation against Scotland.
Scotland upset the champions with a 25-13 victory at Murrayfield last Saturday afternoon, and O'Sullivan believes that England's problem was not their gameplan but their mentality.
Speaking to Balls on our Six Nations Takeaway, O'Sullivan specified Jones' pre-game declaration on the quality of England's preparation as having a negative effect on England's performance at Murrayfield.
Ahead of Saturday's game, Jones recalled the change in fitness levels from his first game in charge to now, saying that "We've been looking at a bit of data and conservatively we've improved 40% - conservatively. And we've still got another 20% to go. I think we have also become a much more adaptable team. We've got a mindset of being able to grind out games if we need to, but at the same time if the opportunity allows we can move the ball well."
O'Sullivan, however, believes that pronouncements such as these have a hidden effect of lulling players into a false sense of security.
I heard Eddie Jones say during the week that they'd never trained better, that they'd trained superbly. I heard that and I said 'uh-oh'. As a coach, when we trained really well and we were playing against a side we were expected to beat, I used to get awful worried.
It's very hard for lads not to let things drop, intensity-wise.
It's complacency in the true definition of the word. Fellas are thinking that they are there; its's almost a kind of blind complacency. They don't know they've become complacent, it's a funny thing. It's that 5% of a drop, it's only 5%, but that can manifest itself in a 20% drop in terms of performance. A small drop in intensity is a big drop in performance.
England trained so well and everything was set up for them to go to Edinburgh and win comfortably, and really set down a marker that they kind of sleepwalked into it.
Scotland were really, really good. Don't forget that they did a number on us when we went to Murrayfield last year, and we probably sleepwalked into that game too.
England certainly, when you're going into a game when you're confident, and things begin to go wrong, it knocks everyone out of their cadence, their balance. Then you start making uncharacteristic errors: the ball is passed int touch, guys drop the ball - this kind if malaise affects the team.
England couldn't get a grip on the game, and as I was watching, I was thinking that there's no way England can win this game. I just couldn't see where the momentum shift was going to come from.
So how much blame should Jones take?
He's taking all the blame at the minute as he is pretty secure in his position. That's fair enough; there's honesty in that. He admitted he got the build-up wrong, and they got it wrong mentally. I don't think that there was anything wrong with their gameplan.
Maybe telling how well they trained, and how well prepared they were might have lulled them into a false sense of security.
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