"Not personal" - Sir Clive Woodward bites back at Ben Earl after criticising forward - Ruck

“Not personal” – Sir Clive Woodward bites back at Ben Earl after criticising forward

Sir Clive Woodward has outlined three pivotal matchups ahead of England’s upcoming Six Nations showdown against France in Lyon this Saturday.

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In his analysis, Woodward also addressed the ongoing verbal sparring between England’s number 8, Ben Earl, and himself.

Woodward wasn’t happy with the Earl’s post-match interview following the win against Ireland and issued his rebuke in his Daily Mail column.

“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.

Woodward’s key battles, including Earl

Uini Atonio vs Ellis Genge

He wrote: “France tighthead Atonio is just enormous! He’s so wide I’m not sure how his team-mates bind around him at the scrum. Genge is smaller but packs a real punch. He was England captain when they were hammered 53-10 by Les Bleus at Twickenham last season. I wonder if he’ll be out for revenge.”

Ellis Genge, Captain of England during the Summer Nations Series Rugby match between Wales and England at Principality Stadium on August 5, 2023 in Cardiff, Wales. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK