England can “achieve greatness” by completing a second straight Grand Slam against Ireland next weekend and breaking New Zealand’s record of 18 consecutive wins, says Eddie Jones.
England thrashed Scotland 61-21 at Twickenham on Saturday to retain the Six Nations and coach Jones says his players want more success.
“How many times in your life do you get to be great? It’s exciting,” he said.
“They’re in the dressing room now talking about it. They want to do it.”
New Zealand’s record run of 18 consecutive victories was ended by Ireland in Chicago just last autumn, and Jones believes that Joe Schmidt’s side will prove tough opposition in Dublin next Saturday.
France were the last team to win back-to-back Grand Slams in 1998, with England achieving the feat in 1992 – both before Italy joined the tournament and the number of nations increased from five to six.
“We’ve got a fantastic opportunity,” said Jones. “It would mean for the players they’ve achieved greatness.
“Our focus is purely on Ireland – back-to-back Grand Slams has never been done in the history of the Six Nations.
“Ireland, psychologically, are in a very strong position,” he added. “They’re beaten, they’re out of the tournament and they love spoiling parties.
“And the party they’d love to spoil the most is the England party.”
‘We want to be number one in the world’
England’s haul of wins has lifted them to second in the world rankings, behind World Cup holders New Zealand, and Jones has set his sights on toppling the All Blacks.
Jones has not faced New Zealand since taking charge in 2015.
He said: “[The half-time message was] that we were ruthless and behaved like the number-one team in the world. The number-one team in the world goes on and finishes that off.
“We’re not beating our chests and saying we’re the number-one team in the world, but we aspire to be the number-one team in the world.
“We’re one year into a four-year project. We’ve done reasonably well in the first year.
“We want to be the number-one team in the world but we’re not, so we have got to get better.”
|England’s record-equalling run|
|WIN 1: 60-3 v Uruguay (h)||WIN 10: 44-40 v Australia (a),|
|WIN 2: 15-9 v Scotland (a)||WIN 11: 37-21 v South Africa (h)|
|WIN 3: 40-9 v Italy (a)||WIN 12: 58-15 v Fiji (h)|
|WIN 4: 21-10 v Ireland (h)||WIN 13: 27-14 v Argentina (h)|
|WIN 5: 25-21 v Wales (h)||WIN 14: 37-21 v Australia (h)|
|WIN 6: 31-21 v France (a)||WIN 15: 19-16 v France (h)|
|WIN 7: 27-13 v Wales (h)||WIN 16: 21-16 v Wales (a)|
|WIN 8: 39-28 v Australia (a)||WIN 17: 36-15 v Italy (h)|
|WIN 9: 23-7 v Australia (a)||WIN 18: 61-21 v Scotland (h)|
‘It doesn’t feel like we have won’
England captain Dylan Hartley said that the players haven’t allowed themselves to celebrate with one game still to come, and described winning the championship early as ‘weird’.
“If we want to kick on as a team the next challenge is Dublin next weekend,” he said.
“The team delivered, we don’t need to fill newspaper columns and I’m happy with how the team conducted themselves. We were clinical, ruthless.
“It feels a bit weird – we have retained the Six Nations but it won’t feel like it until we win next weekend.
“It’s not a dead rubber – it’s another step for the team to get better.”
Cyprus won 24 matches in a row between 2008 and 2014 but they are not a tier one nation and not a full member of the International Rugby Board. England’s best run before Eddie Jones took over was a streak of 14 consecutive wins between 2002 and 2003 – which ended just before their World Cup winning campaign.
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