England legend blasts ‘fundamental failings’ of Steve Borthwick’s side after ‘inexcusable’ errors

Colin Newboult
England players dejected following defeat to Scotland in the 2024 Six Nations.

England players dejected following defeat to Scotland in the 2024 Six Nations.

Former England hooker Brian Moore felt that the errors the Red Rose made in their Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland were “inexplicable” and “inexcusable”.

Steve Borthwick’s men started Saturday’s clash well, going 10-0 ahead early on, but mistakes cost them dearly from thereon in.

A bad defensive read and a George Furbank knock-on, allied of course by the brilliance of Duhan van der Merwe, saw the England head into the break 17-13 down.

They would not really recover and Scotland ended up claiming an ultimately comfortable 30-21 triumph in the Six Nations encounter.

Handling issues

The sheer scale of England’s handling errors was the big talking point for the visitors after the match and Moore was critical of their display at Murrayfield.

“No player deliberately makes mistakes and errors, to some extent, are inevitable under the fierce pressure that is exerted during Test match encounters,” he wrote in his Telegraph column.

“Recognising that, however, is not an excuse that can be legitimately used by players for failing to execute basic skills.

“It also cannot be used to shield coaches from criticism, when the systems they design do not work as effectively as they should or fail to address fundamental failings.”

Although England scored a fine set-piece try after four minutes, it then went wrong and that enabled Scotland to wrestle control of the match in the second period.

“Their first try was a well-executed, set-piece move that involved deception to pull Finn Russell out of his defensive shape and then offered an extra ball carrier, Elliot Daly, to make the crucial line-break from which George Furbank scored,” Moore wrote.

“What followed thereafter was an inexplicable and, at this level, inexcusable, litany of handling errors and turnovers which undermined England’s every attempt to capitalise on their outstanding start.

“You can often make statistics mean what you want but this time England cannot claim what follows is taken out of context or is capable of different interpretation. When you make 25 handling errors and commit 22 turnovers in a game you will not beat any half decent Test team.”

The amount of times England dropped the ball or knocked on left onlookers scratching their heads, including Moore, who struggled to pinpoint what exactly led to their attacking woes.

A “bloody” review

“I fully admit to being unable to offer a precise explanation or remedy for England’s handling profligacy,” he added. “What can you practically do, other than to express extreme displeasure and ask players to look honestly at their performances and to ensure it is not repeated?

“Maro Itoje said that the players will be holding an honesty meeting about this. If so, good – and it should be bloody. The ultimate disciplinary measure is to drop a player, but England’s confidence, whatever the players say to the media, is wafer-thin, as their vulnerability under pressure shows.”

Moore also stated that it could be the fault of the coaches, with attack guru Richard Wigglesworth potentially in the firing line.

“Coaches cannot come on to the field and play for players, but they can design systems that give players the best chance of being effective,” the ex-hooker wrote.

“If this is obvious to them, and many others, why does this keep happening? Either the players are not executing the plan correctly or Richard Wigglesworth, England’s attack coach, must bear responsibility.”

READ MORE: Steve Borthwick left frustrated after ‘big learning experience’ in England’s loss to Scotland