Rugby

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: The mindset has to change for England to taste Rugby World Cup success

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: The mindset has to change for England to taste World Cup success after Eddie Jones’ side kicked the ball out to accept a draw rather than go for the win against the All Blacks

  • Eddie Jones’ XV mounted a comeback to draw with New Zealand at Twickenham
  • First-half tries from Dalton Papali’i and Codie Taylor put the All Blacks in control 
  • New Zealand went in at the break with a 17-3 lead and England looked vulnerable

England’s draw with New Zealand was a huge missed opportunity, much like the team’s autumn series so far.

Eddie Jones’s side must beat South Africa on Saturday to show they have made progress this November, indeed even this year.

I have already made clear my disappointment and displeasure at the decision by Marcus Smith to kick the ball out at the end of the All Blacks game and opt for a share of the spoils.

England's draw with New Zealand at Twickenham (above) was a huge missed opportunity

England’s draw with New Zealand at Twickenham (above) was a huge missed opportunity

England settling for a draw felt like they were happy with being second best, much like the RFU seem to be in not moving heaven and earth to offer Shaun Edwards a deal to join them as coach.

What a mistake it has been not to get Edwards. It is great for France that he is staying with them for four more years but for England it is a crying shame and says so much about the RFU.

Only Bill Sweeney, the chief executive, will know why the RFU have scored yet another own goal in ignoring the excellent Edwards.

Against New Zealand, a win was on the cards. It would have been a victory that would have propelled England into next year’s World Cup.

Smith’s decision to kick the ball out at the end smacked of a safety-first approach which the best teams do not have. England’s macho rhetoric just does not match their mentality and that has to change quickly.

Will Stuart's first two tries for England inspired his side to a thrilling comeback at Twickenham

Will Stuart’s first two tries for England inspired his side to a thrilling comeback at Twickenham

Eddie Jones' side snatched a draw from jaws of defeat against New Zealand on Saturday

Eddie Jones’ side snatched a draw from jaws of defeat against New Zealand on Saturday

I don’t blame Smith individually for such a negative approach, it is more symptomatic of the team as a whole. The fact several England players were celebrating so enthusiastically at a draw showed this team does not yet have the mentality required to beat the best teams in the world.

I thought New Zealand were 25 points better than England. They were the better side and in control for 70 minutes until they capitulated in the last 10.

They should and will be very disappointed by that. We still don’t know what England’s best team is and that is ridiculous.

When England realised they had no option but to attack they were excellent. But why wait until 10 minutes to go when they had a man advantage and are behind on the scoreboard? The ambition must always be to score a minimum of five tries a game, no matter who the opposition.

The brutal truth is they were fortunate to escape with a draw. Prior to the last 10 minutes, England were unable to string phases together because they either made errors or gave away penalties.

Dalton Papali'i scored New Zealand's first try of the game as they immediately seized control

Dalton Papali’i scored New Zealand’s first try of the game as they immediately seized control

I wrote before the game about the need for England to concede single figure penalties over the course of the 80 minutes to come out on top. The final number was 15. Both sides struggled with discipline — New Zealand conceded 14 of their own.

This is where rugby has a major problem and I am not sure those running the game really understand what is going on or causing this. We need to make the game entertaining to watch, but teams are being put off running the ball by over officiating at the breakdown.

At Twickenham on Saturday, Mathieu Raynal’s whistle was one of the game’s constants. 

I thought the refereeing was ridiculously strict at the breakdown, especially on the attacking team, to the point where it came close to ruining what was a huge occasion.

A win is essential against the Springboks on Saturday but more important is the way we play — a way of playing that gives us a real chance of success in 2023. Currently, England have a lot of work to do both on the pitch and off it.


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