England head coach Eddie Jones called criticism of his side’s style of play “totally disrespectful” after his side beat France 22-19 in extra time to win the Autumn Nations Cup at Twickenham.
England scored a last-minute try to take it to extra time before Owen Farrell kicked the decisive penalty.
The emphasis on using a kicking game resulted in boos from the crowd and criticism from several former players.
“We’re trying to win and we’ve got to find a way to do that,” said Jones.
“Rugby needs to be positive at the moment. It’s a tough time for the sport, it’s a tough time to play rugby and we are all trying to play as good a rugby as we can.”
At one point the 2,000 crowd started to boo in response to a long series of kicks exchanged by the two teams.
England’s attacking game has not matched their powerful defence this autumn.
At one point they went through 13 phases with players free on the overlap out wide but failed to use them, and the conservative performance was criticised on social media by several former internationals.
“Can I just say I think you are being totally disrespectful to the players the way you criticise the rugby,” Jones responded.
“Consider the players are coming off at least a 10-month season without having any pre-season to prepare for the international game.
“It has been tough for the players and you are being disrespectful to the players.
“You should be trying to paint a much more positive picture of the sport. It is a sport we love and it is a difficult game to play.”
Jones was also asked whether it was important just to win, or to also entertain the fans.
“That is not the point and I find the question a bit childish,” Jones said. “Obviously you have to win. If we don’t win, we don’t coach.
“In terms of the rugby – do you think we go out there and don’t want to play good rugby? Are you seriously asking me that question? Sometimes you can’t play good rugby, so I apologise. I apologise.
“Had we run the ball from everywhere and got turned over 30 times and been beaten 30-15 you’d have said why didn’t we kick the ball more.
“These are the best players in the world and you’re telling me they’re playing that game because they don’t want to play good rugby? Be respectful to the players.”
I backed myself after misses – Farrell
Captain Farrell had missed four kicks earlier in the match, including one 80 seconds into the “golden points” period, before slotting the winning sudden-death penalty with six minutes of extra time remaining.
“I backed myself. I missed some that I definitely shouldn’t have missed and made that game go on longer than it should have,” he said.
“But I was confident in our ability. I thought we grew throughout the second half. There were a lot of chances to win that game but the boys kept putting us in places to win it.
“Obviously it takes only one mistake, but we got better and better, and got there in the end.”
Jones added: “Owen had one of those days with his boot, which is very unusual for him, so we had to really force pressure a number of times to get the result we wanted.
“He is the captain, he makes the choices and backed himself – that’s a real sign of a good player.”
‘Everyone was on their toes’
England second row Maro Itoje, who won the vital penalty, said the hosts “showed resilience” in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham.
“We really had to be sharp. It was sudden death, a lapse in concentration and you can lose the game,” he said. “Everyone was on their toes and you had to be on it – luckily we were.
“We didn’t play as good as we wanted to but all these things are learning experiences. The overarching message is we showed resilience.”