Rome - England coach Eddie Jones forecast fans were in for a
treat following the "wonderful rugby" played on the opening weekend
of this season's Six Nations.
Jones's men launched their bid for an unprecedented third
successive outright title by rounding off the first round of fixtures with a
46-15 win away to Italy in Rome on Sunday.
A crowd of more than 61 000 spectators at the Stadio
Olimpico saw England run in seven tries, with an emboldened Italy scoring two
of their own before fading away late on.
The fixture capped a weekend where Wales hammered Scotland
34-7 in Cardiff, while Ireland needed a last-ditch drop goal from Johnny Sexton
to see off France 15-13 in Paris.
It all promised a truly competitive tournament, in marked
contrast to last year's Rugby Championship where world champions New Zealand
were yet again the overwhelmingly dominant side in the southern hemisphere
equivalent of the Six Nations.
"I thought if you look at the three games in the
championship so far, what wonderful rugby," said Jones.
"You had Wales and Scotland throwing the ball from
side-to-side, you had Ireland and France in an old-fashioned arm wrestle.
"You saw today (Sunday) that there was a bit of an arm
wrestle and then it opened up at the end.
"We feel honoured to be part of the tournament and the
tournament is only going to get better," added the Australian after
overseeing his 23rd victory in 24 Tests in charge of England.
"We go next week (against Wales) at Twickenham, there
will be 82 000 people, they'll be absolutely pumped and we'll be pumped to play
in front of them."
The speedy Watson gave England an early 10-0 lead with two
unconverted tries and Jones, perhaps mindful he was in Italy, said: "He
got the Maserati out of the car park today."
Simmonds might not have even been on the bench had both
Billy Vunipola and Nathan Hughes been fit, but the Exeter back-row did not look
out of place in what was just his fourth Test.
"Sam's a good young lad with a great set of
skills," said Jones.
"If he was a cricketer he'd be playing Twenty20,"
the avid cricket fan added.
"He's a bit different - he's fast and runs good
Reflecting on England's overall performance, Jones said:
"Our scrum and line-out was absolutely first-class. I don't think we've
scrummed as well as that in the time I've been in charge of England.
"We were completely dominant and that's English rugby.
When the game broke up at the end we were able to score tries... It wasn't the
perfect game but very, very positive."
The one downside for England was the sight of Ben Youngs
being taken off on a medical cart just 10 minutes into the game after crying
out in pain when his knee buckled during a tackle.
"Ben will have an examination tomorrow (Monday) so
we'll know more after that," said Jones. "He's unlikely to be
available for the Wales game."
As for who would join Danny Care, who came off the bench in
Rome, as a scrumhalf in England's squad for Wales, a playful Jones, indicating
a preference for a 'kicking' No 9, said: "They're on the Batphone
Sunday's result meant Italy, who've now lost all 24 of their
Tests against England, had gone 1,072 days since they last enjoyed a win over
any opponent in the Six Nations.
"I'm proud and angry," said Italy coach Conor
O'Shea, the former Ireland fullback, after a match where Azzurri skipper Sergio
Parisse suffered a rib injury.
"Proud because we saw a team with a lot of potential
for the future. But I'm annoyed because we caused them a lot of problems with
the ball but the defeat is another statistic."
Italy next face O'Shea's compatriots in Dublin and he
admitted: "It's a long, hard road ahead for us and we will have to be more
disciplined against Ireland."