In the six days leading to Cardiff on Saturday night, Eddie Jones trotted out the usual Welsh stereotypes about daffodils, goats, and Tom Jones — all harmless, knockabout stuff even if some over-sensitive natives mistook it for a national insult.
His country’s favourite Aussie was more concerned about finding out why England were historically “petrified of playing Wales in Wales”. Twenty-four hours later he claimed to have solved the problem but would be keeping that to himself because “they’re a cunning lot, the Welsh”.
Jones knew that to his cost. He had made his last stand as Wallabies coach 12 years earlier in rugby’s Notre Dame by the Taff, a match that ended in a defeat grave enough for his employers to give him the last rites on the spot.
Mat Rogers’ missed conversion gave Wales a rare win that would change the course of history, for Jones and England. Just as one late, wayward kick had cost him his job, so an equally late, more wayward one in Cardiff on Saturday preserved his unfailing habit of ensuring England always prevail.
Instead of putting his in-goal punt into touch, Jonathan Davies aimed it straight at George Ford in centre field as if to say: “Go on, do something with that, if you dare.”
The son of a former Ireland defence coach caught it like Manna, passed to the son of the current Ireland defence coach, and before Wales knew what had hit them, Owen Farrell’s perfect pass had put Elliot Daly in at the corner.
Tough on Wales but they contributed to their own downfall with the most baffling substitution of the season. Ross Moriarty’s pulverising tackles kept England on the retreat when, for ‘tactical’ reasons, they took him off with almost half an hour still to go.
Perhaps the Welsh are not as cunning as Jones would have you believe…
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved