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England guilty of 'massive own goal' at Twickenham claims Woodward

By Ian Cameron
Press Association

Steve Borthwick’s England may have earned a hard fought win over Wales in Twickenham but former England head coach Clive Woodward wasn’t terribly impressed.

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Woodward targeted England’s selection policy following their narrow 16-14 victory. However the win marks their second in the tournament without securing a bonus point.

Last year, the team faced boos after a defeat to Fiji but managed to leave fans smiling this time despite a tough challenge from Wales. Efforts to enhance the Twickenham atmosphere, including a longer ‘fan walk’ and honouring new caps have been added to the match day set-up.

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However, Woodward suggests focusing on gameplay over gimmicks to truly engage fans.

“I was at Twickenham as a fan on Saturday. There has been a lot of talk about getting a connection back between the team and supporters and improving the matchday experience,” Woodward wrote for the Daily Mail. “My message to the RFU would be to forget the gimmicks like light shows, DJs and bands which are designed to get the crowd going. You can’t force fun.”

The exclusion of Henry Arundell, who plays in France, due to RFU’s overseas player rule added to the controversy. Woodward and England coach Steve Borthwick have voiced concerns over this policy, suggesting changes could improve team selection and fan experience.

“There is no need to try and create it. If England can play in a way that gets fans off their seats with excitement, then the Twickenham atmosphere will take care of itself. A good start would be getting the best players on the field. The sight of Henry Arundell in the Twickenham hospitality boxes rather than on the field on Saturday was another massive own goal that is just devaluing international rugby, selection for which should be sacrosanct.”

It was agreed last March that England’s restriction on selecting players based abroad will remain in place for the next agreement overseeing the domestic game.

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An ‘exceptional circumstances’ clause saw Toulouse’s Jack Willis picked during the 2023 Six Nations, but he is the lone example of its use since 2011 with dispensation only granted because of Wasps’ financial collapse in October.

Borthwick wanted the overseas policy eased in order to pick the “best players available” for his England team amid a continuing increase in signings for Top 14 sides, including the likes of Jack Nowell, Sam Simmonds, David Ribbans and Joe Marchant.

The new Professional Game Agreement comes into effect from July.

additional reporting PA

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Comments

3 Comments
A
Alex 162 days ago

It's been so long since he had anything vaguely positive to say about anything other than himself that anything perceptive he might have to say is lost amongst the background noise of moaning.

He's like a professional grumpy old man.

One of the few things that are actually more boring than watching the current England side’s attack is hearing this dinosaur wang on and on about it.

England aren't great right now and haven't been for a while but they could win every match by 100 points for the next 12 months and he’d write a 1500 word pinion piece about how the kit man was no good at reverse parking.

T
Turlough 162 days ago

£100 says there will be a cracking atmosphere on Saturday week.

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