If you tuned into BBC 2 on Saturday at 8:30 pm to watch England vs Argentina, you might have mistaken it for an Under 20s game. Eddie Jones made the decision to blood new young talented players, a decision that will surely build England rugby for the future.
Tom Curry started the game as openside flanker (number 7, for us backs). He was the youngest player to start for England in a test game since the legend Jonny Wilkinson. He didn’t carry the ball much but he got stuck in with dirty work and could often be found at the bottom of rucks.
What is most impressive, and was pointed out by the Sir Clive Woodward, was the position he is playing at only 18 years of age. Unlike Wilkinson, he cannot be protected as an openside flanker. As he grows older he will surely be a big asset for England and Sale’s backrow, especially by 2019 when he’s had two years to bulk up.
Hail Eddie Jones, for his bravery to use such a young squad. It is all too often that young players do not make it into the squad and languish in age group rugby leading to slow development. Rob Howely, is a good example of not giving younger players a chance – something that will surely come to bite him when the ageing Welsh squad retire. Jones is developing leaders from a young age and giving them a taste of a real test match. This builds calm under pressure and acustoms the youth to the occasion of professional rugby on the main stage.
George Ford displayed confidence and leadership over all the new players. Outside him Alex Lozowski and Henry Slade showcased how important ball players are.
What Eddie has done so well is to develop players. Ford has been off the money for the last season, but Eddie and the rest of the team are instilling confidence that will hopefully see him return as one of the best 10 options in the world. I personally think that Leicester’s style of play will give him a good platform to get front foot ball, which is where he thrives.
All in all, it was a riveting performance showing skill, the power of youth, and a determination to move on from mistakes. Eddie is building the squad for the 2019 world cup and beyond – giving the youth the trust they need.