England defeated France 21-31 at the Stade de France on Saturday 19 March to claim the RBS Six Nations trophy, having won all five of their matches.
England’s first Grand Slam in 13 years will never erase the haunting memory of being knocked out of their own World Cup just five months ago, but it will certainly function as a transcendental stepping stone in Eddie Jones’ reign as England Head Coach.
Throughout England’s Six Nations success story there were several pivotal figures that led by example. Captain Dylan Hartley, whose appointment was a symbolic shot at redemption for the occasionally louche performer, displayed great discipline and leadership qualities within his role as skipper.
Bizarrely, Hartley had to be stretchered off after 65 minutes after sustaining a nasty blow to the head, although the prop did manage to return in time to lift the trophy amid vigorous English celebrations.
21-year-old flanker Maro Itoje had an outstanding tournament as he established himself as a regular within the forwards. Itoje’s adept skill on the ball and sharpness off it was clear for all to see, as the Saracens player prevailed at the breakdown and around untidy loose balls.
England look to have secured themselves a great presence on the field in the form of Itoje, and it will be interesting to see how Itoje’s England career develops following an instantly majestic start.
The maturity shown by players in the backs was a real sign of promise for England. Owen Farrell was solid defensively whilst contributing massively with his right boot whilst Anthony Watson, Mike Brown and Jack Nowell were immensely dynamic and forward-thinking on the field.
Six months ago England were tactically flawed, confused in selection and apparently unhappy in each other’s company. In five matches Jones has not only ended a 13-year wait but has done so with a team that should have its best days ahead.
However some credit has to be heading in the direction of former Head Coach Stuart Lancaster, for the early development of the current team.
TNT Sport Billy