Mako Vunipola Rugby: England’s four-year journey falls just short

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TOKYO (Reuters) – No other team have gone out in the pool stage of one World Cup then bounced back so emphatically that they reached the final of the next one, but that will be no consolation to coach Eddie Jones after England fell at the final hurdle in Japan.

Rugby Union – Rugby World Cup – Final – England v South Africa – International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan – November 2, 2019 England’s players and coaching staff look dejected after the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

Saturday’s 32-12 defeat by South Africa brought Jones’s four-year rebuilding job to a shuddering halt just 80 minutes from its destination.

It was a meticulous project, and Jones, who has two years left on his contract, may or may not hang around to keep pushing it forward.

It has not been an entirely bump-free road, though it certainly looked that way when Jones won his first 17 games in charge after announcing on arrival that his mission was the make England the best team in the world.

That run included their first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003 and a hugely impressive 3-0 series win in Australia.

It came to an end with defeat in Ireland in the final game of the 2017 Six Nations, but seven more wins followed.

Then came the dip – possibly the most important spell of Jones’s whole tenure – wh

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