Eddie Jones sat on the stage and smiled as he does when he knows he has the audience where he wants. It has not been so often recently, but it is now. So he complimented a reporter for his red shoes and gave another a friendly pat on the back and absorbed the satisfaction of a loss that seemed like a win.
The England chart has risen and plunged into Jones's three-year-old and is now returning to heaven.
The period at the start of this year when England lost five consecutive games looks like a faraway world and the speech that Jones' position as a coach might be in danger has been banned and will not come back.
England coach Eddie Jones can be pleased with his team's performance at Twickenham
In its place came a rebirth of confidence, the feeling that England is recovering its pace at the right time and that Jones has a wide range of options to choose from.
England is not where they wanted to be in their development so close to the World Cup – Jones wanted them to be ranked first in the tournament – but they are getting closer. "We are thrilled with where we are going", Jones said.
This was only the second time that England lost to Twickenham under Jones – the first was a 24-15 against Ireland on March 17 – but this was a defeat that reignited the hope that his team could still be serious contenders at the World Cup in Japan next year. That perspective had subsided in the spring, but burned brightly again.
England may have lost to New Zealand, but Jones's team had a chance to win the game
"Sometimes the game loves you and sometimes it does not," said Jones. & # 39; If you stay in combat long enough, it will love you. We are ready to stay in the game long enough so you get some love in the future. Do not worry about this. & # 39;
Jones did not mention the World Cup, but that was what he was referring to. There are little more than 10 months before England opens its campaign in the tournament with a group match against Tonga in Sapporo and this tumultuous match against the best team in the world seemed like the moment when the accumulation of ## England rose again.
"It's really a big step forward," said Jones. "Because you're comparing to New Zealand, we've been together for only three weeks and they've been together for three months, and the metrics show that we've won the last 20 minutes and we've gained immense confidence in it. team, but we did not allow this to happen. "
The speculation surrounding the future of Jones as head coach has now fallen
Jones was right about this. England had the chance to win the game in the second half. They will scold the two occasions in quick succession, avoiding the chance to kick for the goal and have proclaimed themselves to convert line-out units close to the All Black line. None of those games succeeded.
There will also be regrets for a late chance to kick a drop-goal that has been squandered when England lost possession. Perhaps it seems perverse, but those missed opportunities seemed to add to the sense of accomplishment.
The game was there for England. They had the All Blacks at their mercy and, even if they did not have the courage to seize the opportunity, Jones believes they will do it soon.
Those lucky enough to be here to watch the race, will take away two images in particular to encourage them that England will be a force in Japan this fall.
The first was the magnificent driving maul who drove to the line in the middle of the first half to run in a 15-0 lead and who brought everyone to Twickenham on his feet.
It was a beautiful sight as the mass of men gathered and roared to the line, unprepared for the best team in the world, leaving them powerless to resist the impulse of England as a player after player who joined the maul and pushed over the line for Dylan Hartley to touch down.
Skipper Owen Farrell is not the most moving of men, but has also admitted that he was sucked into the drama. "I do not know what I was doing there," he said.
Sam Underhill has had an excluded test for England against New Zealand
And the second image? Towards the end of the game, when England had put the All Blacks under pressure, Courtney Lawes kicked and Sam Underhill picked it up. He ran to Beauden Barrett, the sublime New Zealand director, as if it were George Best who gave a twisted blood to the defense. He transformed it one way and then the other before crashing over the line.
The attempt was ruled out by the Television Match Official for offside, but it was not a show that will easily fade from the memories of England.
Underhill, a substitute for the injured Tom Curry, produced a series of tremendous contrasts on the All Blacks and had a superb game from the start to the end. His contribution was another reason for optimism given that England looked ahead.
Halfway between their autumn internationals, England is more in shape than they could have hoped for.
George Kruis and Maro Itoje were disheartened after the game, but England is back on track
Last week's victory over South Africa – a game they should not have won – seemed a turning point in their luck and this close defeat of the All Blacks confirmed this feeling. They are out of their descending spiral. It no longer seems that every opponent will be out of their reach at the World Cup.
In these circumstances it seems appropriate that Japan should be England's next opponent at Twickenham. Asked how he would approach the game, Jones said he would give the players two days off and bring them back on Tuesday. They would have a three-day camp, he said, to imitate the World Cup's rhythms.
The pace of preparation and excitement for the tournament are starting to accelerate and Jones still had an idea how he could recreate the game conditions in the host country of the World Cup this week. "A lot of sushi," he said. "Sushi and sake."