Sir Clive Woodward has disclosed the areas in which England must improve over the next four years subsequent to their defeat against the Springboks in the Rugby World Cup semi-final.
South Africa edged England 16-15 in a gripping second semi-final at Stade de France.
The reigning champions were never in front until a long-range penalty from replacement Handre Pollard with just two minutes left on the clock.
Woodward wrote in his column: “This was a gut-wrenching defeat for England to run the world champions so close and lose it in the last two minutes to Handre Pollard’s penalty. But it is hard to be critical of the team because they did so well last night and they can hold their heads up high.
“Considering they were given no chance by most people you have got to give England a lot of credit and be proud of the team after they lost a really exciting game in Paris. Compared to New Zealand’s win over Argentina on Friday night at the same stadium, which was awful, this game blew the roof off.
“With the squad Steve Borthwick picked originally they did all they could to get near to the South Africans and ended up going down on a scrum call.”
Woodward went onto pinpoint where England went wrong in the game.
“One other step they need to take is get out of the siege mentality that has been apparent. We all want England to win but at the end of the day, they lost the game and they didn’t score a try. That was the difference.
“From one to 15, if England want to win World Cups they need more pace – they are not as fast as France or New Zealand – and as well as having the power to scrummage against these teams, once you have matched them in the physical stakes. You have got to be quick as well and I don’t think England are at the moment. That is a huge difference.
“Now England have the bronze medal match against Argentina on Friday. It is not a must-win game so Borthwick can give guys who have not played much in the last few weeks in France.
“The World Cup is about winning, it is not about third place play-offs.”
“Next generation” – 5 England players who should be dropped, and who should replace them
As Steve Borthwick shifts his focus toward the future, it is anticipated that the head coach will implement several adjustments in preparation for the third-place play-off.
#1. Henry Arundell replaces Jonny May
England’s offensive struggles have been glaringly evident in virtually every match, except for the standout performance by the lightning-fast Arundell, who carved his name in the annals of history with a jaw-dropping five-try spectacle against Chile.
The ex-London Irish prodigy, despite his recent one-year commitment to Racing 92 due to the Exiles’ unfortunate demise in May, is set to be granted a unique opportunity to extend his England tenure.
At the tender age of 20, it feels like eons have passed since he wowed the world with an electrifying end-to-end try against Toulon, a moment that instantly went viral and left even the hard-to-please Eddie Jones brimming with admiration. Arundell could very well be the ignition spark that England has been desperately yearning for.
As for May, he has been a remarkable servant to the England team. Nonetheless, this World Cup undoubtedly marks the conclusion of a spectacular international career, one where he will bid adieu as his nation’s second-highest all-time try-scorer.
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