England coach Steve Borthwick ‘excited’ at World Cup potential despite Six Nations slump | Rugby Union News
England finished fourth in the Six Nations table after their 29-16 defeat to Grand Slam winners Ireland in Dublin; Steve Borthwick’s side now have less than six months to prepare for the World Cup in France; “I’m excited about what these players can do for the World Cup”
Last Updated: 19/03/23 10:04am
England coach Steve Borthwick is “excited” about his side’s World Cup prospects despite their underwhelming Six Nations campaign.
Borthwick’s team, who signed off with a 29-16 loss to Grand Slam winners Ireland, finished fourth in the table after registering two wins and three defeats for the third year running.
Although England’s performance in Dublin was a vast improvement on their 53-10 mauling by France a week earlier, there was little to indicate they could be major contenders for this autumn’s global tournament.
“We’ll debrief this Six Nations thoroughly, take what lessons we take from it and be clear on our direction going forward,” said Borthwick.
“The team is not where it could be and, while we’re judging against teams that have used this four-year cycle tremendously well, that’s not the position England are in.
“I can’t do anything about the past. I intend we will be working really hard to put England in the best position possible and I’m excited about what these players can do for the World Cup.”
The former Leicester head coach, who replaced Eddie Jones in December, is relishing the prospect of having more time to work with his squad over the coming months.
He added: “We get a number of weeks to prepare [for the World Cup]. Players will then be conditioned for international rugby and understand how we want to play.
“This has been five intense games and effectively you then have one main training session a week.
“I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to work with the players for a longer period of time. I think we’ve seen some growth here but we will see more in that preparation period.”
England led for much of the first half in Dublin through the first two of three penalties by their captain Owen Farrell, but suffered a setback just before the turnaround when Freddie Steward was sent off for foul play.
As the full-back turned sideways, his arm collided with the head of Ireland’s Hugo Keenan, who was stooping to retrieve a loose ball, and referee Jaco Peyper issued a red card.
Despite being a man down, England pushed the home side all the way, scoring a try through Jamie George before Ireland clinched a 29-16 success – and the trophy.
Reflecting on Steward’s red card, Farrell admitted: “I was surprised if I’m honest. But it’s not up to us – we don’t make the rules, we don’t put them in place.
“We don’t hear the process the referee goes through, we just had to accept it. The way we reacted after that red card was very good.
“We fought for each other. Unfortunately we didn’t get on the right side of the result, which is always disappointing in an England shirt.”