Last year England were humbled in their own backyard at the 2015 World Cup. Just six months on, with a new coach, a new captain, and several new faces, England have become the first team to win the Six Nations with a game to spare.
New coach Eddie Jones seems to have transformed the mentality of the England side. They longer go into games hoping to win, they expect to win. In the past a game against Wales would have seen England go into the game as underdogs, this year they went into the game full of confidence, started well, and went on to win the game 25-21. As it turned out, this was enough to win the tournament as Scotland caused a major upset against France to hand England their first title since 2011.
But the job is not yet complete. England now have the chance to win the Grand Slam, their first in over a decade, if they beat France in Paris this weekend. After their morale boosting win against Wales, England will go into the game full of confidence. And Jones will demand the job is finished.
Jones has lived up to expectations since taking over from Stuart Lancaster. Dylan Hartley has been appointed captain, but the man he replaced, Chris Robshaw, has remained a vital member of the team and has played as well as ever for England in Jones’ first five games in charge. Mario Itoje has made a big impression since being called up to the side. The young Saracens Lock is joined in the side by a number of other young players, including Paul Hill and Jack Clifford.
If England do go on to beat France and secure the Grand Slam, it will be seen as another major step in the right direction. England are not alone in needing to improve to catch up with the best sides in the game. The World Cup showed that the Northern hemisphere sides are some way behind their Southern rivals, but if England can establish themselves as the best in Europe they will see themselves as well placed to test themselves against the best when the Autumn internationals come around.