Billy Vunipola urges England to enjoy Six Nations title success

19 March 2017 10:08

Billy Vunipola refuses to mourn England's failure to record back-to-back Grand Slams, having experienced repeated near-misses in the quest for the RBS 6 Nations title.

For a second successive year Eddie Jones' men were crowned champions with a round to spare, but the ultimate prize eluded them when Ireland registered a worthy 13-9 victory in Dublin on Saturday.

Vunipola was still happy to celebrate a coveted prize, however, having endured repeated runners-up finishes under Jones' predecessor Stuart Lancaster.

"The trophy presentation wasn't difficult, for me anyway," the Saracens number eight said.

"We still managed to win the title. Two or three years ago we couldn't get anywhere near it, let alone win a Grand Slam. We won the title - it's very English of us to be disappointed.

"I remember when Ireland won it two years ago - when we couldn't beat France by a certain amount - and they still celebrated it, so we have to celebrate it."

Defeat brought England's 18-Test winning run to a close, with the first loss of the Jones era preventing New Zealand's record for successive victories being overhauled.

In a twist of fate, it is the All Blacks who could be the first adversaries to arrive at Twickenham for the autumn series if the Rugby Football Union's attempt to stage the match proves successful.

The June tour to Argentina is the next assignment, but due to the British and Irish Lions tour being held at the same time, England will face the Pumas without their strongest team.

"We lost the game but it happens. Obviously the result is not what we wanted, but it happens and we'll be better for it," Vunipola said.

"It's been a great run but, as people keep saying, it was bound to come to an end and unfortunately it did.

"It just shows how hard it is to win a Grand Slam first of all, but even more so to win it back-to-back.

"If you look at the best team in the world and how they react to a loss, they always come back bigger and better and that's the focus for us.

"Eddie was very level-headed afterwards. He thinks about what to say and gives out a clear message.

"The message was to enjoy it because even the best team in the world couldn't get to 19 wins. Obviously we're still chasing that tag.but we'll keep trying."

England were well beaten as Ireland saved their best performance of the Six Nations for the type of Grand Slam ambush at which they excel.

They will still provide the backbone of Warren Gatland's Lions squad and while Vunipola is certain to be involved, he fears Saturday's defeat may shape selection.

"I'm not looking forward to the Lions after the way we played against Ireland," Vunipola said.

"As I said, I just want to keep it very, very professional, take it one step at a time, celebrate, have a few chocolate bars and maybe a few desserts, and get back on it on Monday morning."

Source: PA