Paris, March 10 (Reuters) - Rugby is evolving and England, who lost 22-16 to France in the Six Nations on Saturday, are struggling to adapt to the way the game is being refereed, according to their coach Eddie Jones.
England suffered their second defeat in a row after losing to Scotland last week and on both occasions were repeatedly penalised at the breakdown.
“At the breakdown we had trouble. I thought we had improved but not as much as we needed to,” Jones told a news conference.
“We didn’t learn quick enough, I’m not 100 percent sure why.
“We are not adating to the referees’ interpretation at the ruck as we should. We need to learn.”
England were penalised 16 times, often at the breakdown, where the French also won several turnovers.
Jones acknowledged that even if England are ranked second in the world, they are still a team in development.
“It’s a tough period for us at the moment. Any team that is developing as we are, you go through these tough periods, when the game doesn’t love you,” he said.
“We’re on the losing chair but you shouldn’t get carried away or be too melodramatic about the way we are. It’s going to take us some time (to adapt), it’s not going to come quickly.”
England, however, came close to stealing a win after Jonny May scored a late try and they came within metres of the French line in the final minutes.
“We’re about two or three percent from where we needed to be today,” Jones said. “We were beaten at the breakdown, we gave away too many penalties, and when we had the momentum we didn’t score, whereas they did.”
Jones added that injured number eight Nathan Hughes would probably not be fit to play against champions Ireland next weekend after suffering a leg injury. (Reporting by Julien Pretot, Editing by Christian Radnedge)