England’s stunning victory will be widely dubbed as one of the best in their history, but coach Eddie Jones wasn’t giving away where it might sit in his list of favourite moments.
He was, however, willing to give away what his old pal Steve Hansen is doing after the World Cup. He confirmed, in a heartfelt tribute to his good friend, that Hansen is joining the Japanese club Toyota after the tournament.
“He is a great coach,” said Jones. “I first coached against him in 1997. He was coaching the Crusaders and I was coaching the Brumbies. He is a great rugby man and he will go down as one of the great All Black coaches.
“The thing that has always impressed me about him is that he always looks to see what is best for the game and he is going to be missed.
“I am sure there are going to be opportunities for him. I know he is coming back here and coaching at Toyota. And I am sure he is going to get involved in helping World Rugby.
“He is a great rugby man. A great rugby man.”
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Jones wasn’t giving away much else, though. He seemed in entirely subdued mood. Proud, satisfied but not getting carried away or indeed giving anything away.
He said that the goal for England is to be the best team in the world and they are not there yet.
England didn’t come to Japan to celebrate winning the semifinal. Jones said they were here to win the World Cup and become the best team in the world which they can’t say they are unless they lift the Webb Ellis trophy.
He wasn’t keen to say much about the game, but did reveal that the plan to face the haka was part of a wider plan to make a statement early in the game.
“We wanted to take it to them,” he said. “How could we take it to them and put them on the back foot as much as we could.
“The psychological approach is becoming increasingly important. There is so little between the top teams and trying to understand what gives them energy and take it away from them.
“Then you do the same with your own team. You have to be disciplined enough to follow that. Our leaders were outstanding the way they kept attacking where they thought New Zealand were weak.”
By taking that approach, England owned the contest physically. They played on the front foot and that allowed their decision-makers the time and space to do what they wanted.
“You have got to get on the front foot and sustain it,” said Jones.
“We wanted to make sure they had to play from deep which we managed to do. Our kick chase was fantastic. Really good.
“We had two and a half years to prepare for it. They had a week. We have been unconsciously preparing for this game for that long.
“When you ingrain habits in your players they are easier to sustain and we saw some great habits from our players tonight.”
There had been more than a few former England players unhappy about the selection of George Ford at No 10.
The popular view favoured Owen Farrell at first-five where he could have more control, more influence, with Manu Tuilagi running hard off his shoulder.
Jones, though, knew his mind all along and he knew his plan. Ford was so composed and aware and he used the platform his outstanding pack gave him quite brilliantly.
It was a masterclass in tactical control, but also selection and planning by a coach who is now going to have the legacy that he deserves.
Whether his pre-game nonsense had any impact, we’ll never know. But what can’t be denied is that his side played as if they weren’t feeling the pressure.
He was right about that – his team acted like they had nothing to lose and their body language, intent, demeanour…it all said they were a team with total belief in who they were and what they were trying to do.
As much as that comes from within, it comes from the environment created by the coach and management.
“Well they [All Blacks] are a great team,” said Jones. “They have won two World Cups in a row they have got a great coach, great captain so we had to battle hard.
“You always go in with an idea how you want to be but it never goes like that. So much credit to New Zealand for fighting the way they did. We had to dig deep to win that game.”