The XV of France must count on a defeat of Ireland against England to win the 6 Nations Tournament. But Clive Woodward believes that the XV of the Rose does not have the means to compete.
« Come On England ! » This is the front page of L’Equipe this Saturday, which kindly invites England to lend a hand to the XV of France, during the last day of the 6 Nations Tournament. To have a chance of winning, the Blues must of course dominate Wales, on the widest possible score, but they must above all hope for a defeat of Ireland against the English.
The problem is that the XV de la Rose, humiliated last week by Fabien Galthié’s men at Twickenham (10-53, the biggest English defeat at home in all history), has absolutely no chance of compete with the Irish, n°1 in the World Rugby rankings. That’s the opinion of legendary Sir Clive Woodward, the manager who led England to the top of the world in 2003.
“I just can’t see them winning the game, constate Woodward in his column for the Daily Mail. If England lose to Ireland by around 10 points, that would be respectable. It pains me to make such a statement, but I do so only to paint a true reflection of the situation of the two teams. It’s a sad reality of English rugby’s decline and that debate is for another day, but no one – yes, no one – expects a win at the Aviva Stadium. »
No English player would have a place in the Irish XV
Woodward does not see how England could suddenly raise their level of play after the slap received against the Blues. “A week after that crushing 53-10 for France, I am still shocked by the result, admits the ennobled technician. A further demolition is entirely possible as Ireland is as good as, if not better than, France. When I look at Ireland, I see a great team. Not a single English player could play in their team at the moment. Again, this reflects how far behind England are. »
The former XV de la Rose coach identifies in particular a sector of the game where the English are in great pain. “Ireland have a very impressive squad, from No.1 to No.23, but it is in their forwards that they have particular strength and that will pose real problems for England. As I wrote earlier in the tournament, the No.10 debate was a big distraction for England. The discussion of who should play flyhalf between Owen Farrell, Marcus Smith and George Ford has masked other issues, most importantly, in the forward package. Against France, the English forwards were destroyed. I’m surprised there was only one change in the pack for Ireland and on top of that it was an injury. » We understood, the Blues can not even believe in the miracle.