sport news Usurped by Ireland as the kings of Europe, England launch bid to reclaim their ...

England launch their Guinness Six Nations campaign and World Cup year on Saturday with a match which serves as a status symbol. Ireland have what Eddie Jones's team had — and they want it all back.

This in-at-the-deep-end start to the championship has vast significance. The English desire to upset the title-holders is just one aspect of a wide-ranging motivational equation. What awaits on Saturday evening is a chance to reclaim lost property and lost identity.

England's slump to a fifth-placed finish in 2018 meant they surrendered the trophy to Ireland's Slammers, so they want that back. They also surrendered their world No 2 ranking to Joe Schmidt's upwardly mobile side, so they want that back, too.

England were hard at work on Friday as they prepare to open their Six Nations campaign

England were hard at work on Friday as they prepare to open their Six Nations campaign

They travel to Dublin to face holders Ireland as England look to lay down a marker to rivals

They travel to Dublin to face holders Ireland as England look to lay down a marker to rivals

It goes deeper. Jones had his men fixing their gaze on the global summit. For so long, there was mounting anticipation about England being capable of knocking the mighty All Blacks off their perch, before they endured a five-Test losing run last year. 

While still in recovery mode, they came close to ambushing New Zealand, only for Ireland to manage it a week later in Dublin.

Since that seismic result last December, Schmidt's team have been the ones anointed as Europe's pre-eminent challengers for the World Cup this autumn.

They are the ones swamped by awards and plaudits, just as England had been in 2016 and 2017. This power shift has been reinforced by the acclaim for the Irish system, which carefully manages players and helps the provinces dominate the European scene.

Eddie Jones' side surrendered their title and their world No 2 ranking to Ireland last year 

Eddie Jones' side surrendered their title and their world No 2 ranking to Ireland last year 

So there is plenty at stake on Saturday. An English victory by 15 points or more could propel them back up to No 2 in the world rankings, but that is very unlikely, largely because of another valuable item of lost property: Andy Farrell.

Put aside the intrigue generated by his rivalry with England's captain — his son, Owen — this is another example of Ireland having something England want. Or certainly wanted.

Jones tried to re-sign the defence coach he let go when he took charge in 2015, but Farrell Snr knew he was on to a good thing in Dublin and he is poised to take over as head coach when Schmidt stands down after the World Cup.

The former Great Britain rugby league captain has become revered as the man whose expertise shuts down the world's best attacks.

He has nullified the lethal Kiwis several times

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