Six Nations 2020: Eddie Jones warns England of curse of World Cup finalists

England players look dejected
England lost to South Africa in November's World Cup final
Guinness Six Nations
Dates: 1 February-14 March
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC TV, BBC iPlayer, Connected TVs and online; listen to match commentaries, shows and podcasts on BBC Radio 5 Live, Sports Extra and BBC Sounds; follow text coverage on the BBC Sport website and mobile app; further coverage available in Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Full coverage details.

Eddie Jones has warned his England players of the curse of the World Cup finalists as they prepare for their Six Nations opener against France in Paris.

England fell at the final hurdle at last year's World Cup in Japan, beaten 32-12 by South Africa.

The previous four beaten World Cup finalists all went on to experience a sharp slump in form.

"It's really important we understand what has happened to World Cup finalists," Jones told BBC Sport.

"There has been a decline and in some teams a massive decline in year one."

Since 2003, every team who has finished runners-up in the global showpiece has been dumped out of the following World Cup at the quarter-finals stage.

Speaking from England's warm-weather training camp in Portugal, Jones added: "Some of the reasons we have come up with are: a) they have failed to cope with the expectation of being a top team, or b) they don't have that relentless, forensic search for how to get better because they feel like they have made it."

England gathered in camp last Wednesday evening and travelled to the Algarve on Thursday before holding a series of meetings on Friday and Saturday, addressing both the Saracens situation as well as how to kick on after coming so close in Japan.

"We want to make sure we understand what the potential threats are, and then we can deal with them," Jones explained.

"Maybe sometimes the players can be comfortable and maybe the coaches can be comfortable.

"But that relentless desire to be better is what I'm seeing with this team already. I'm so pleased the way they have come into camp."

Jones admits he is dealing with a group of players in a markedly different place to four years ago, when they were recovering from a chastening World Cup experience on home soil.

"In 2016 we inherited a team with poor confidence, searching for redemption, and now we have a team with an enhanced reputation and players with enhanced reputations," he added.

"But what I'm seeing with the players is an absolute desire to be a much better team. We want to be the greatest team the game of rugby has ever seen. That's a big dream but why not go for it? We are quite capable of getting there."

First up for England is a young French team at the Stade de France, with new boss Fabien Galthie picking a host of rookies as he targets home World Cup glory in 2023.

Jones has turned the heat up on Les Bleus, questioning whether their callow group will be able to cope with the unique pressures of Test rugby.

"Test match rugby requires experience and France have decided not to take experience in, they've gone with youth. And they might be wrong, they might be right," he said.

"We don't know but it is going to test those young players because they will never have played against a brutal physicality and intensity that we are going to play with on Sunday."

Top Stories