England aiming for 'Everest' in rugby record bid

http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/17/sport/england-six-nations-grand-slam
BYBy Aimee Lewis, CNN
Updated 1441 GMT (2241 HKT) March 17, 2017

Story highlights

England aiming to achieve record 19th winSeeking back-to-back Grand SlamsIreland could finish second in Six Nations

(CNN)Like adventurers tackling the world's highest mountains, England's rugby team is on an epic journey.

While Saturday's attempt to win a record 19th successive international match will not take the players to the summit, it represents another hard-fought climb towards their Everest. "To go from where we are to greatness takes another step of endeavor," coach Eddie Jones, who is unbeaten since taking charge in 2015, told reporters ahead of the clash with Ireland."It takes greater focus, it takes greater persistence, it takes greater emotional output." Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins. Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.The form book suggested Saturday's Six Nations match was always going to be tough for Scotland against England -- their last victory at Twickenham came in 1983.Hide Caption 1 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.And so it proved ... Jonathan Joseph scoring three tries in an impressive England performance.Hide Caption 2 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Joseph's first try came soon after Fraser Brown was shown a yellow card. With Scotland down to 14 men, Joseph powered his way through the visitors' defense.Hide Caption 3 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Owen Farrell had been in a doubt for England after suffering a dead leg in training ahead of the Scotland game. His left leg might have been heavily strapped, but his kicking was unimpeded and Farrell rattled over four penalties and seven conversions.Hide Caption 4 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Nothing was going right for Scotland. Mark Bennett is pictured leaving the pitch injured.Hide Caption 5 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.At last Gordon Reid gave Scotland cause for celebration after going over for a try.Hide Caption 6 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.But there was no stopping England and Anthony Watson dived over the line for their third try.Hide Caption 7 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Prince Harry and Princess Anne were at Twickenham to watch the Six Nations match.Hide Caption 8 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.A fan dresses up as Donald Trump at Twickenham.Hide Caption 9 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.England ran in seven tries, with Billy Vunipola scoring the fifth.Hide Caption 10 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Scotland kept at it and Huw Jones scored two second half tries.Hide Caption 11 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.But there was no stopping England. Danny Care added two late tries as England won 61-21 to secure back-to-back Six Nations titles and equal the All Blacks' record of 18 successive Test wins.Hide Caption 12 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.England's win ensured Eddie Jones' side secured the Calcutta Cup (left) and Triple Crown trophies. The Calcutta Cup match between England and Scotland was first contested in 1897 in Edinburgh.Hide Caption 13 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Since taking charge of England in November 2015, Eddie Jones has masterminded a remarkable reversal in England's fortunes after the team suffered a dismal World Cup.Hide Caption 14 of 15 Photos: England comfortably beat Scotland to equal New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive Test wins.Donnacha Ryan of Ireland celebrates his team's historic 40-29 victory over the All Blacks at Soldier Field, which ended New Zealand's winning streak in November 2015.Hide Caption 15 of 15Much is at stake in Dublin.Read MoreVictory would eclipse New Zealand's landmark of 18 successive Test victories by a tier-one nation, which England equaled last weekend with a 61-21 demolition of Scotland.That record romp secured a successful defense of the Six Nations title, and another win would make England the first team to complete back-to-back Grand Slams since the tournament expanded in 2000. It would also be the first time England has won every game in successive seasons since the 1991-92 Five Nations.READ: England equals world recordREAD: The double life of England's 'Super Maro'

'It's like climbing a mountain'

Jones says England is not yet good enough to win Rugby World Cup.Only 14 months ago, England was humiliated on home soil, becoming the first Rugby World Cup host to be knocked out in the group stage. Out went Stuart Lancaster, in came former Japan coach Jones -- and the team's transformation has been remarkable.

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Six Nations: Promotion and relegation? 03:07"It is like climbing up a mountain," said the Australian, whose Wallabies side suffered defeat in the 2003 World Cup final against England. "Every time you go to another level of the mountain it becomes more unstable. The ground becomes more unstable, your ears hurt, your nose hurts," added Jones, who was a technical adviser for South Africa's 2007 World Cup-winning team. "It is exactly the same when you are climbing the ladder of success -- everything becomes a bit harder." READ: Italy tactic sparks England angerREAD: Rugby's concussion problem

Not yet No. 1

Jonathan Joseph scored a hat-trick of tries in England's record victory over Scotland.After humiliating Scotland at Twickenham, Jones was quick to tell the media his second-ranked team was not yet the best in the world.While the All Blacks became the first side to retain the World Cup on the way to setting a record winning run that ended in Chicago against Ireland last November, Jones says his squad is not yet at that level.

#IREvENG | Borthwick delighted with intensity of training ahead of RBS 6 Nations clash in Dublin ⚡️PREVIEW ➡️ https://t.co/aNROmtvvOF pic.twitter.com/lXfrOz4VnZ

— England Rugby (@EnglandRugby) March 16, 2017 "We don't have the density that we need to win a World Cup in terms of leaders," said the 57-year-old, England's first foreign coach. "Having said that we've progressed a long way in the 14 months we've been together."It is unclear if England's players will have an opportunity to test themselves against the three-time world champion All Blacks this year.The two teams did not meet in last year's northern hemisphere international series and no fixture has been agreed for this November -- it was reported this week that English clubs are opposed to adding an extra Test into their autumn schedule. Jones said he had "no view" on his team's fixture list, adding that his only concern was Ireland. "If the All Blacks want to turn up to the Aviva Stadium on Saturday and want to play us after Ireland, then we'll consider it," he said. "We want to be the No. 1 team in the world. When we get the opportunity to play them, we'll play them."READ: Should rugby's rise worry the NFL?READ: Vancouver win caps stellar weekend for English rugby

A boost for England?

Ireland's Conor Murray receives treatment during the Six Nations match against Wales in Cardiff.Back-row forward Billy Vunipola, a player who has developed into a world-class talent during Jones' tenure, returns to the starting lineup in the No. 8 position against Ireland. The 126 kg behemoth's inclusion, having been used as a replacement against Scotland, will give the visiting team extra strength and power. England has won just twice -- in 2003 and 2013 -- in eight previous visits to Dublin in this tournament.

Wonderful atmosphere at #Twickenham Teams have arrived, stands filling up, kick-off approaching. #sixnations #england #scotland #rugby #englandrugby #englandscotland #sports #rugbyunion #rugbygram #twickenham #london #calcuttacup

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Ireland has lost two key men, scrumhalf Conor Murray and fullback Rob Kearney, to injury following last Friday's defeat against Wales in Cardiff. The absence of Murray -- regarded as a certainty for the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in June and July -- will particularly affect the home team's kicking game, and put more pressure on flyhalf Johnny Sexton. "Conor is a world-class scrumhalf and we've built up a really strong relationship over the last three years, maybe longer," playmaker Sexton said. "He'd be a loss to any team in the world when he's at his best."Ireland, coached by New Zealander Joe Schmidt, could yet finish runner-up in the Six Nations with a third victory of the tournament. Home fans will be in strong voice, as the match will be a continuation of Friday's St. Patrick's Day celebrations. "We can still attain the target of second place, so there's still a heck of a lot for us to gain individually and collectively," Schmidt said.Have your say on our Facebook pageVisit cnn.com/rugby for more news and videosFrance, which is level with Ireland on 10 points, hosts Wales in Saturday's middle kickoff.Scotland, which like the French and Welsh has two wins and two losses, hosts bottom nation Italy in the day's opening game.