Six Nations: ‘We weren’t good at anything’ says England head coach Steve Borthwick
England head coach Steve Borthwick insists that his side still has plenty of work to fix their shortcomings after an opening Six Nations defeat to Scotland.
Borthwick’s tenure as head coach kicked off on Saturday at Twickenham with his team going down 29-23 to Gregor Townsend’s outfit.
The seven-try thriller was decided by a late Duhan van der Merwe score, which ensured that the Calcutta Cup remained with Scotland for a third year in a row.
After the defeat, Borthwick highlighted England’s failings and said that there are no quick fixes as he attempts to revitalise the underperforming side that he took over from Eddie Jones.
“We know we’ve got a lot of work to do. I’ve been frank from day one in saying there’s a lot of work to do,” said Borthwick, whose next assignment is a round two clash with Italy at Twickenham on Sunday.
“When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I measured the team and got all the data for the team, we weren’t good at anything. It was as frank as that.
“So we are trying to build some strengths in this team and some bits we are pleased about and some bits we are disappointed about. My job is to make sure we get some improvements for Italy.
“There are multiple areas we have tried to change. You saw some improvement in the scrum against Scotland, which I was pleased about because it has been ranked as the worst scrum in tier-one rugby.
“We saw some improvements in the attack and speed of ball, and we tried to improve the breakdown where England were ranked the ninth quickest, so one of the slowest in tier one.”
While Borthwick was highly critical of the Red Rose‘s November form, he did see some positives in the defeat to Scotland.
“I’d seen a habit within the team of conceding points early and not being able to respond to it. We conceded points against Scotland, and the biggest thing I was looking at was the response. I thought the response was magnificent,” he said.
“We saw improvement against Scotland in a lot of areas. Some areas didn’t go so well, and we need to make sure we get those addressed. Some take longer than others.
“We are trying to rebuild the set-piece here. That takes time. You saw some improvement in our attack.
“In terms of the way we hit in defence, there were improvements there, but there were a couple of tries which Scotland took brilliantly, which is immense credit to them.
“I feel disappointed with the result. I asked the players to do some things differently. I have asked the players to play a new way.
“I have got to get the players to believe in themselves and get the players to bring their strengths to the pitch.
“I want them to play to the best of themselves, which we haven’t seen them do for a while. I think you saw an improvement in that regard against Scotland.”
Taking England back to the top
England hooker Jamie George admitted that “something wasn’t quite working” last year after defeats to Argentina and South Africa and a draw to New Zealand.
Despite the loss to Scotland, George insists that the players are determined to bring about England’s recovery and take responsibility for the performances.
“We’re all very, very ambitious people. We want to take England rugby back to the top, and we’re aware that it hasn’t been good enough, especially in the autumn,” he said.
“Eddie took the brunt of it in terms of losing his job, but at the same time, we were the people on the field. So we have to take accountability for it too.”
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