- England open 2017 campaign v France on 4 February
- RBS 6 Nations ends with a trip to Ireland
England head coach Eddie Jones’ New Year’s resolutions are quite simple, 'constant improvement and becoming the number one team in the world'.
Jones’ side head into the new year off the back of an unbeaten year and 13 straight victories in 2016.
A victory against France in their first fixture of 2017 would also seem them stretch their unbeaten run to a record 15 matches, surpassing the achievements of the 2003 World Cup winning side.
However, Jones says he has his sights firmly set on displacing New Zealand as the best team in the world.
“It’s always nice to win but we want to achieve so much more than that,” said Jones."We are excited about the prospect of getting better and being the best team in the world."
“It’s a nice record to have, people are excited about it but we are excited about the prospect of getting better and being the best team in the world.”
England’s achievements in 2016 include a first Grand Slam since 2003, a historic series whitewash over Australia down under and a clean sweep of victories in the autumn internationals.
When reflecting on 2016, Jones said: “I’m proud of the players, I’m proud of how hard they’ve worked and the courage they have shown to change and develop and the realisation is that we’ve only just started and we have a long way to go.
“Rugby is a complex game, but the beauty of the game is if you keep on repeating the simple things well you play the game beautifully and that is our aim.”
Jones’ side start their RBS 6 Nations defence by hosting France at Twickenham and end the campaign away at Ireland. Following that they face the Barbarians in the Old Mutual Wealth Cup before a two-game tour of Argentina.
And despite an unbeaten 2016, Jones is aware his side can still improve further while adding he also expects to test the depth of his squad in 2017.
“Our scrum to start with needs to be more consistent than it has been, our line-out needs to be more consistent, our defence has been enormously powerful and suffocating but at times has given away too many easy tries,” he said.
“Once we get those pillars right we’ll start working on our attack."
He added: “We’re hoping to have the bulk of our squad involved in the Lions so we’ll lose a lot of our team for the tour of Argentina. Then it will be about developing depth and having three quality players for every position.
“The first part of the year is about the squad winning the RBS 6 Nations again and to do that we have to beat France in that first game at Twickenham on 4 February. After the RBS 6 Nations it’s going to be about developing depth.”
Jones, who has now been in the job 13 months, also challenged the players to continue to show desire and hunger over the next year.
“To be number one in the world you have to play every Test as if it is your last and when a player gets that England jersey he has to have that mentality and give it everything he has got.”