England’s first series win over the Wallabies on Australian soil might sway the nation’s children to take up the sport rather than dream of a career in football, coach Eddie Jones said.
England, who were heartbroken eight months ago after being tipped out of their home World Cup by Australia, sealed the three-match series 2-0 in Melbourne on Saturday with a 23-7 win secured by brilliant defence.
Extending their winning streak to eight games under Jones, England have now leapfrogged Australia to second in the world rankings.
“The fantastic thing about tonight is to win a series like this, it’s a win for English rugby in total,” Australian Jones told reporters.
“It’s a win for the fans, it’s a win for the RFU (Rugby Football Union) ... we’re all in this together.
“Young kids are going to be sitting at home and instead of being (footballers) Dele Alli or Harry Kane they might want to be Anthony Watson, Owen Farrell or George Ford.
“That’s the sort of thing that rugby does. The power of a strong national team is that it encourages kids to play rugby and we want these guys to be heroes for English rugby.
“(Then) kids want to play rugby and then play for England and the whole game gets healthier.”
England won the match in Melbourne by “rope-a-dope”, said Jones, having soaked up a period of sustained pressure from Australia’s dangerous backs for much of the second half before Owen Farrell scored the winning try with five minutes left.
At the heart of the tourists’ lion-hearted defence was former skipper and flanker Chris Robshaw, who was criticised for his team’s failure at the World Cup and subsequently lost the captaincy.
Setting the tone at Melbourne’s Rectangular Stadium with a big hit early on Wallabies scrumhalf Nick Phipps, the 30-year-old blindside flanker was outstanding at the breakdown and won man-of-the-match in his 50th test.
“I always thought he was a good player,” said Jones.
“He’s a really good solid test six ... He does all the unseen stuff in the game, makes the good tackles, keeps driving forward, clean-outs.
“That’s what he’s done, game after game, eight games in a row since he lost the captaincy.
“It was difficult when he lost the captaincy, it’s not a pleasant experience but he’s bounced back really well and we’re all delighted for him tonight.”
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