World Cup gauntlet thrown says Eddie Jones after England's win over France in Six Nations
- Credit: DAVID DAVIES/PA
England threw down a huge challenge to "the best team in the world" as eyes slowly turn to the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
Tries from Anthony Watson and Maro Itoje, the second just five minutes from time, helped England overturn a half-time deficit and edge out a resurgent France 23-20 at Twickenham.
It ended Les Bleus' Six Nations Grand Slam hopes but more importantly for England head coach Eddie Jones, it handed his side a psychological edge on the hosts of the 2023 competition.
He said: "They're being described as the best team in the world and they are a good team, a quality team with quality players and they are well coached.
"We said to our players before the game we're going to be racing them to the World Cup.
They're developing, we're developing, and it's going to be a good race between the two of us and we got a bit of a start on it today."
Ill-discipline and ragged tactics had contributed heavily to their Six Nations losses against Scotland and Wales and Jones was delighted that his calls for a greater balance between attack and containment, and an improved disciplinary approach, were heeded.
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And he believes they are back on track.
He said: "We've always had the plan that we needed to create a game that would take us to the next World Cup.
"But we always felt we needed to develop our game, so we started that at the start of the Six Nations and we're slowly, slowly getting better at getting the right balance in our game between passing, running and kicking.
"This was probably another step forward.
"We showed a really good attitude, great leadership by Owen [Farrell] and full credit to the players and coaches.
"I think Maro [Itoje] and Owen particularly stood out in terms of the way they led the team, they played at their best, and then contributed to show a lot of composure in terms of coping with difficult periods."