Sir Clive Woodward lays into Borthwick, calls for big changes ahead of World Cup - Ruck

Sir Clive Woodward lays into Borthwick, calls for big changes ahead of World Cup

Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward believes Steve Borthwick must make serious changes ahead of their fast approaching Rugby World Cup opener against Argentina.

Yesterday,England lost to Fiji for the first time ever and slumped to a fifth defeat in six games as their Rugby World Cup preparations ended with another blow.

“You could not have planned these four warm-up games to go worse than they have, it’s the poorest build-up England have ever had going into a World Cup,” began Woodward.

“I feel for Borthwick in a way. It’s a tough job and he’s having to learn it fast, and that’s not easy. 

“He’s got to stay calm. At 43, he’s still a young coach and he needs people at Twickenham to get round him. They should be saying, ‘Don’t panic. Beat Argentina and we are away.’

“He will hand in his final squad list for the World Cup on Monday and he has got to make some big calls for that Argentina game. I can’t think of a bigger match — they can’t afford to lose, not just for the World Cup but for English rugby.

“Marcus Smith and George Ford played decently against Fiji, but apart from them I can’t name a single player who put his name in the frame. And any other team that has seen England recently will have noticed they can’t defend off-loads.”

Sir Clive Woodward wants three England players dropped

Here are the changes to the squad he suggested.

#1. Zach Mercer replacing Billy Vunipola

Woodward wrote: “Given his ban, Vunipola should not go to the World Cup.

“He is the only out-and-out No 8 in the squad and England can’t face Argentina with a non-specialist there. Ben Earl and Lewis Ludlam could do a job, but when a better No 8 is available you have to play him. I’d take out Vunipola and bring in Zach Mercer.

“Vunipola is not the player of four years ago. Mercer would bring some much-needed pace to the team. Vunipola can rejoin the squad if there are injuries in France, which is almost a given.”