With one round left to play, Ireland is still on for the Six Nations Grand Slam after they achieved to edge past Scotland 22-7 on Sunday despite being hit by a cloud of injuries. But by the time they took to the ground, we’d already seen one of the most amazing performances in fresh memory as France beaten England 53-10 at Twickenham to impose a record home defeat on Steve Borthwick’s side.
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Wales got their first win of the competition as they managed to get past a rising Italy side in Rome. After the weekend’s accomplishment, we take a look at how England can sort itself out with the France Rugby World Cup 2023 just six months away and how Ireland has accomplished huge adversity. England has just five games before their RWC opener against Argentina on Sept. 9.
Next up is Ireland in Dublin, and then there are their four pre-tournament games two against Wales, a trip to Ireland and a game against Fiji at Twickenham. But where do they go after their shock show against France? It was the third-heaviest loss in the team’s past. Steve Borthwick faces a huge task to sort out England but here are a few significances at the top of his to-do list.
Get the essentials right before RWC 2023
This comes down to everything England did unwell against France. They lost the collapse battle, their kicking was poor and they made too many management errors. The way we were in the contact area wasn’t good sufficient, on both sides of the ball, Steve Borthwick said after the game. The numerical returns are ruthless. England made nearly twice as many control errors as France 13-7.
There were also those unsatisfying moments and unusual errors like knock-ons off restarts, the messiness around Charles Ollivon’s second try where he achieved to dot the ball down as England spun it back over their try line. These are fixable features and Borthwick will look to iron these out this week. Ultimately when you play a game and you lose the smash as badly as we did in defence and giving the rival chance, Borthwick said. The irony in all of this is, the set part was solid.
The scrum and lineout are much enhanced from the autumn, but it wasn’t sufficient to get a foothold in the game. I’ve never before been in a Test match where our set-piece has worked well and yet we still feel that physically on the back foot, RWC player Jamie George said. The kicking was also rebellious, gifting France the chance to attack and put the ball precisely where they want it. It’s exactly what England did not want to do.
Resolve a Rugby World Cup team for now and upcoming
So does Borthwick do an Erik ten Hag and give the same group of players a gamble to redeem themselves after a heavy downfall, or does he hobble the pack? We’re still waiting to see what the back of this England side will truly look like come the RWC 2023. You can start by slotting in Ellis Genge together with Jamie George, but Sinckler was poor against France.
Ollie Chessum has taken well to Test rugby but we’re still waiting to see the real Maro Itoje return to full power. Jack Willis and Lewis Ludlam offer a pleasant balance in the back row, but they need a fresh look at No. 8. At No. 9 Jack van Poortvliet thrashed against France and some of his decision-making was doubtful, so there may be some spin here with Alex Mitchell making a decent influence from the bench.
Harry Randall is playing well for Bristol and Raffi Quirke will be back right for Sale before the end of the spell. Expect development over uprising for France Rugby World Cup. You’ve got two choices when you have a result like this, George said. You can roll over and toss your toys out of the pram, or you can learn why it happened and what you need to do to repair it and that’s going to be our choice. Rugby fans can book RWC 2023 Tickets on our website at exclusively discounted prices.
Lay the grounds for Rugby World Cup training
This is one for the future, but the proceedings of Saturday should fast-track this. The plain reality is England is missing options in the front row, at No. 8 and is still far too untidy in the centres. The lack of depth in the front row at the door of the RFU pathway it’s just not been good enough. After Sinckler, the next choices are either Dan Cole playing brightly but 35 years old, Joe Heyes, Will Collier, or Will Stuart out with a concussion.
Ireland and France are roads ahead here. France was down to their third-choice No. 3 against England and Dorian Aldegheri was barely out of place. Then look at the hooker spots after George, Luke Cowan-Dickie is wounded and off to France next season so as stuff stands Borthwick can’t pick him after Oct. 31. The next cabs off the rank are either Jack Walker or Tom Dunn. At No. 8, behind Dom Brandt, Billy Vunipola is out of help under Borthwick.
Then you have Tom Willis and Mercer in France. It’s all distant from ideal, and not on England Rugby World Cup team coach Borthwick. This is a bigger problem from years of weak decision and decision-making at higher ranks. Next year the RFU and Premiership Rugby will sort out the new expert game contract ahead of the 2024-25 season. There has to be far more collaboration and the RFU has to start accepting some responsibility.
England has to trust Borthwick for France’s Rugby World Cup duties
Steve Borthwick is the correct man to lead England through this. Though he got the job earlier than anyone predictable he was preferred to replace Eddie Jones after this year’s RWC, it is hard to doubt that he will find a way to get England through this poor cover and will ensure they’re better for it. But in the short term, he must find a way to either use the pain as inspiration ahead of a tough-looking clash with Ireland or just draw a line under it.
When you come into a side that has a hard time and you’re trying to bring a side together to try and find a way of playing that works for this squad and you know there’ll be some rough days, Borthwick said. Today was an extremely tough day. What we have to do is with those tough days, you learn from them, and we don’t want to ever echo them. Borthwick is a careful planner, and he cares deeply. Saturday will have hurt him.
But he’s been here before both as a player and Rugby World Cup coach. So the next step will be to reform, dust off, and go again. George said it isn’t panic places by any means, but there need to be some chats about how we move on from this. This should be England’s Tour of Hell moment. A stroke in the sand, a reality check and their base.
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