England former coach Clive Woodward (centre) and Lawrence Dallaglio in Oita, Japan, October 19 2019. Picture: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES
England former coach Clive Woodward (centre) and Lawrence Dallaglio in Oita, Japan, October 19 2019. Picture: DAVID ROGERS/GETTY IMAGES

London — England must ignore the kind of pre-match comments that made them look “stupid” after a 24-17 defeat by France in their Six Nations opener on Sunday, former coach Clive Woodward says.

A lacklustre England lacked impact on the gain line and made several handling errors in their first Test since being beaten 32-12 by SA in the World Cup final in November.

“The time for talking is now over. England must respond to this through their actions,” Woodward, who led England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003, wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.

“And stop this media hype, which is nonsense and making them all look rather stupid ... England arrived with the wrong team and haven’t yet shaken off that depressing World Cup final result.

“Given all that, I was surprised at the confidence pundits were showing in an England victory. It also demonstrated again the futility of all the pre-match talk of brutality and physicality and teaching France a few lessons.”

Eddie Jones’s side visit Scotland for their second match on Saturday.

“As for becoming the best team ever and all that hyperbole, England should concentrate on becoming the best team for the next 80 minutes ... then the next. That’s what true champion teams do — they never get ahead of themselves,” he said.

“Saturday’s trip to Murrayfield will be just as tough as this game and, again, I make Scotland firm favourites.”

Former England flyhalf Stuart Barnes criticised skipper Owen Farrell for cutting a “frustrated and forlorn” figure in the first half.

“Yesterday offered, yet again, enough compelling evidence to suggest that Jones has appointed the wrong man to spearhead England’s attempts to recover from World Cup disappointment,” Barnes wrote in his column for The Times newspaper.

“Rugby isn’t about the solitary general; it’s supposedly chock full of leaders. All the more essential when the genie that is the Jones game plan is put back in the bottle by a team that rammed his inspirational words down his throat.

“When England have been in a crisis situation, there hasn’t been much in the way of guidance from their skipper.” 

Reuters