"My view isn't a popular view - I think Eddie Jones is a very smart coach" - Ronan O'Gara 8 months ago

"My view isn't a popular view - I think Eddie Jones is a very smart coach" - Ronan O'Gara

'Swing low, sweet chariot!'

One wonders if Ronan O'Gara would have got involved in such a dressing room sing-song, even if it was all in jest.

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The video that emerged of the Ireland players playfully singing what has become an English rugby anthem, on Saturday, was all good fun. The players would have enjoyed it more had Eddie Jones and his England side done Ireland that favour by tipping over the French chariot, in Paris.

As it was, France outmuscled England in the first half, absorbed a couple of comeback blows and let Antoine Dupont finish them off in the final quarter. The 'Grand Chelem' was France's, and England finished a distant third.

Coming after a fifth place finish in the 2021 championship, and with a playing style that is stuck in a morass between ambitiously cautious and cautiously ambitious, the pressure is now on Eddie Jones. Again.

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What Jones has in his favour, aside from three Six Nations titles in six years, is the fact that he was able to put together a squad for the 2019 World Cup that reached the final, and dismantled the fancied All Blacks along the way. Jones insists he can do so again, for the 2023 World Cup.

The England head coach has found an ally, with those claims, in Ronan O'Gara.

The former Ireland outhalf, and current La Rochelle coach, was speaking with us at the launch of this year's Aviva Mini Rugby programme, today, and stuck up for the under-fire Eddie Jones.

"England will be fine, I think," O'Gara says.

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"My view isn't a popular view - I think Eddie Jones is a very smart coach. Like in most things, you can't beat experience. I was in the ground, at Yokohama, when England dismantled New Zealand. It was an exhibition of rugby. It was impressive, at pitch level. It stays with me to this day.

"Yeah, he's from the southern hemisphere and there are probably questions that he hasn't grown up with the history of the Six Nations, and the love we have for that competition. But he's the boss and he structures his team how he wants to, to get them to win a World Cup.

"From all the evidence of the last 20 years, and with what lies ahead, I think he has a plan. His plan usually works!"

Eddie Jones, head coach of England, pictured at Stade de France. (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

Ronan O'Gara on Eddie Jones' earned chance

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South Africa ended up beating England in the World Cup Final, after their pack had the upper-hand over the 80 minutes. The England scrum is coming on nicely, though, and Jones will look to have a more settled side from this autumn on. One imagines, at least.

Players such as Tom Curry, Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Jonny May, Owen Farrell, Jonny Hill and more were either injured during the championship, or missed out entirely. Having most of them returning, and younger guns back around them, should make England more of a force.

"That's the thing," says O'Gara. "You should be judged on your last time out.

"People will say, 'If this World Cup doesn't go well, we will have wasted four years', but Eddie looks to have a different approach to how he builds his team. For me, if you are playing England with Farrell, Tuilagi and the Vunipolas [Mako and Billy], I wouldn't want to be taking them on."

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Pictured is Ronan O’Gara, accompanied by Monkstown Mini Rugby players Isabelle Ferris, James Ferris, Jack Ferris, Sam Sorohan, Freddie Morrissey and Georgia Morrisey, at the launch of this year’s Aviva Mini Rugby Festivals. Six camps, with over 2,000 participants, are set to take place across the country. Four provincial festivals will take place in April, before the National Festival takes places at Aviva Stadium, in May. To learn more about the festivals, visit www.aviva.ie/minirugby, or for more information, follow Aviva Ireland across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates over the coming weeks.  (Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan)