Ben Earl statement: Number 8 stands up to Sir Clive Woodward with defiant reply - Ruck

Ben Earl statement: Number 8 stands up to Sir Clive Woodward with defiant reply

Ben Earl has issued a response after Sir Clive Woodward took aim at his post-match comments following England’s 23-22 win against Ireland at twickenham.

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“I’m a bit emotional,” he said. “Because obviously Jamie [George] lost his mum the other week and we spoke a lot about that this week. And then Danny’s 100th and some of the crap that’s been thrown at this team over the last week. Apparently, we’re the worst England team ever, we’ve done pretty well for that accolade.”

Woodward wasn’t happy with the remarks and issued his rebuke in his Daily Mail column. Woodward suggests Earl’s exceptional talent and on-field contributions should remain his primary mode of communication.

“I didn’t like seeing a number of them hit back at the media in post-match interview,” wrote Woodward.

“Ben Earl was one to criticise the coverage England received after their Scotland defeat. That’s not what champion teams or champion individuals do. They should ignore the media or just see criticism as positive feedback like I did.

“Earl’s comments that ‘apparently we are the worst England team ever’ and ‘we have done pretty well for that accolade’ were not needed and detracted from the team’s performance and his own, which was outstanding.

“I don’t think anyone in the press called England’s current crop the worst in the country’s history!

“England’s players have to accept that if they play poorly — as they did in Edinburgh — they will be criticised. It’s part of playing at the highest level. I also think England shouldn’t just take aim at the media as a collective. If a player or coach has a grievance with what a journalist has written, then name them directly! If that is me, then I’m absolutely fine with that!”

Earl’s response:

“I felt it, I meant it and I stand by it now,” he told the BBC’s Rugby Union Daily podcast.

“I don’t regret saying any of it. I remember being in a bit of a haze and watching it back thinking ‘I can’t believe I said that’.

“With some of the characters we have in the squad, when their integrity, professionalism and quality is being called into question they have always performed.”

He added: “I read everything as I am fascinated by what people think

“What was the problem is that people weren’t seeing the work we were doing in training and how well we were training. It just wasn’t transferring.

“We had the best team in the world coming to Twickenham after one of our worst performances in a long while against Scotland two weeks prior.

“We had two weeks of that festering away. We weren’t short on motivation.”

2027 Rugby World Cup draw (Current rankings)

The men’s Rugby World Cup 2027 in Australia will feature 24 teams after the World Rugby Council approved historic reimagination of the competition format, window and timing.

Reflecting World Rugby’s mission to increase the global competitiveness, reach, impact and value of international rugby, the 11th edition of the men’s pinnacle event will see the world’s top teams compete for the right to lift the Webb Ellis Cup across six weeks from 1 October to 13November, 2027.

The new format will feature six pools of four teams, with a round of 16 added prior to the quarter-finals. This will enable the tournament window to be reduced from seven to six weeks, while promoting a rhythm that builds momentum across the pool phase and respects the same minimum number of rest days between matches as at France 2023.

A cornerstone of overall reform of the international calendar from 2026, this reimagination of Rugby World Cup has players and fans at heart, providing unions and international and domestic competitions with greater opportunity and certainty. It has been made possible by linked reform of World Rugby Regulation 9 governing the international windows for player release.


  • South Africa
  • Japan
  • Georgia
  • Hong Kong
Siya Kolisi, Captain of South Africa celebrates after the Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and South Africa at Stade De France, Paris on 29 October 2023 (Photo: Micah Crook/PPAUK)


  • Ireland
  • Fiji
  • Samoa
  • Chile
James Lowe of Ireland during the Autumn Nations Cup match between England and Ireland at Twickenham Stadium, Twickenham, London on November 21 2020. – PHOTO: Phil Mingo/PPAUK