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SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: I’m shocked and did not see that lacklustre England defeat coming

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: I’m shocked and did not see that lacklustre England defeat coming… it’s a setback for Eddie Jones, who needs to work out how to best use his attackers

  • I did not see that England defeat coming, it’s a real setback for Eddie Jones 
  • The home side were second best from the start and Scotland were worth the win
  • Gregor Townsend’s men team were totally in control in impressive 11-6 victory 

I did not see that coming before the match but within just minutes of the kick-off you could sense it was Scotland’s day.

Watching up close at an empty Twickenham it was clear straight away which team had ‘turned up’ and which team was really struggling.

Gregor Townsend’s men were totally in control from the off, showed a variety I have not seen from them before and a power up front that was extremely impressive.

England were stunned in their opening Six Nations game as they lost 11-6 to Scotland

The shock defeat was a huge setback for England who looked second best from the start

The shock defeat was a huge setback for England who looked second best from the start

It’s a game-changing win for Scotland as a team and a huge moment for Townsend. He is the coach who will lead Scotland to great things and this will kickstart that process.

He has taken some stick — notably at the World Cup — but last season they beat France at home and Wales away, and now they have knocked off England. They are getting there.

The score flattered England, it was nowhere near that close. Make no mistake, this was a huge setback for Eddie Jones and the squad. The team selected was fine — I really liked the look of the team actually — but their game plan and execution was very poor.

Owen Farrell was in a state of shock during the post-match interviews. If we are brutally honest England scarcely fired a shot.

Eddie spoke well after the match, put his hands up, blamed his own preparation and England can get back on the horse straight away against Italy, but this will send a few shockwaves around the rugby world.

Eddie Jones has attacking personnel but must work out how to best use them going forward

Eddie Jones has attacking personnel but must work out how to best use them going forward

There were some warning signs back in the autumn when us pundits on the touchline seemed to irritate Eddie when we spoke of England’s very limited attacking game, unfathomable kicking game and inability to play at another level against better sides. It was a puzzle because Eddie has proved himself to be an outstanding innovative attacking coach in the past with the Brumbies and Japan.

It was a real worry but having viewed some outstanding Premiership games recently I felt English rugby might generally have come through that negative phase. I was expecting something special yesterday if I’m honest.

These are admittedly strange times but what I wasn’t anticipating was England’s complete lack of discipline in the opening exchanges.

In 2020 they averaged nine penalties conceded per game; yesterday they coughed up nine penalties and a free kick at scrum time in 23 minutes. In the previous two Calcutta Cup encounters they conceded only 11 penalties in total yet in this game they had clocked that up before half-time.

It was ridiculous and made it very difficult indeed to get into the game and undermined everything they were trying to do. In fairness they came out of the blocks looking pumped up physically and intent on playing a positive game but it fell apart to the tune of Andrew Brace’s whistle.

Scotland were good valued for their victory as they secured a famous victory at Twickenham

Scotland were good valued for their victory as they secured a famous victory at Twickenham

Scotland were massively up for the match anyway and England’s ill-discipline just gave them a further boost as they dominated territory and possession.

That was the best 40 minutes I’ve seen from a Scotland pack for a long time and with that Scotland showed an ability to play a more rounded game than we often see.

They asked questions of England in so many areas. And continued to do so throughout the game. Usually Scotland go ‘wide wide’ but now Finn Russell had the base to show more variety and his clever all-round kicking game, which will have interested the watching Warren Gatland.

Russell and Ali Price kept England pinned back and then in attack the former directed a beautiful cross-field kick to the left touch where a slightly cruel, higher than expected bounce saw the ball elude Duhan van der Merwe, who looked odds-on to score a try.

Duhan van der Merwe is an impressive finisher and took two or three or men with him to score

Duhan van der Merwe is an impressive finisher and took two or three or men with him to score

Van der Merwe though is a good finisher as he showed moments later when good Scottish hands offered up another chance — this time he took two or three defenders with him as he forced his way over. For that first half hour Scotland were bossing the game and the best you could say about England is the defence generally looked solid and tight and they were at least rewarded for that. They came back into the contest as half-time approached with a couple of penalties and an attacking position which forced Russell to defend untidily against Ben Youngs and get carded for a trip. Not deliberate but definitely worth ten minutes.

I thought it would change after the break. England would analyse where they were going wrong, stop the penalties, get their ball carriers into the game and get onto the front foot. Not a bit of it. Scotland played out the remaining seven minutes of Russell’s yellow card with consummate ease as England continued to fret and offend.

Anthony Watson, one of the world’s most dangerous runners, received his first pass on the hour a metre from his own line with three Scots waiting to smash him. Ollie Lawrence, allegedly the main ball carrier in midfield, got his first and only pass three minutes later and was similarly hit hard and the ball dislodged.

England have got to find a way of firing more shots in attack. They have the players, but they haven’t worked out how they want to go about it. 

Anthony Watson, one of the world's most dangerous runners, was starved of any service

Anthony Watson, one of the world’s most dangerous runners, was starved of any service

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