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Former Bok coach tears England apart on South African TV

By Ian Cameron
(Photo by Ian Cook/CameraSport via Getty Images)

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett did not mince words in his criticism of England’s performance following their 53-10 loss to France in the Six Nations.

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Speaking on South African television’s Super Sport panel show, Mallett ripped apart England’s lacklustre display, questioning their tactics against the French.

He highlighted England’s poor defence and lack of creativity in attack, as well as their failure to adapt to France’s game plan. He was particularly critical of the forward pack that Steve Borthwick has assembled, suggesting there are no ball carriers and they like beef – despite weighing in at 925kg.

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Mallett’s scathing comments reflected the frustration of many fans and pundits who expected more from one of the world’s top rugby teams.

“England are really battling,” he said. “They haven’t got ball carriers, they haven’t got a really physical front row that can take on the opposition.

“Their locks are like our flankers, their flankers are like opensiders, they’re not ball carriers either. So they don’t have anyone to get across the advantage line. When you looked at France playing, it looked like men against boys. The three French loose forwards just dominated that game. [Jonathan] Danty took it up, made three turnovers as a centre. It just looked like men against club players.

“They are in a spot of trouble, England. If they go in there with Smith, it goes against the whole ethos of what Borthwick was doing at the beginning, which was to go back to basics and concentrate on the scrum, concentrate on the lineout, territory and defence.

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“If you’re a coach, you’ve got to have a clear idea of where you want to go with the team at your disposal. So, say for example you’re picking up a team that hasn’t been doing well, you want to make sure they don’t take big hidings.

“Start off with small steps and I thought Borthwick did that quite well, intelligently to begin with. But by bringing Marcus Smith in, it really did change the dynamic. Suddenly it looked like he said ‘let’s play fast and loose against the French.’ Now that’s the one thing you never do against the French, and they just profited from so many English errors.

“There were no good ball carriers, there were no decent set pieces, their kicking game wasn’t good, the physicality of the French – and the Irish – is a step above anything English rugby is producing at the moment.

“In this team, you’re casting your net out wide and you can’t find a decent tighthead prop in England, you can’t find a good ball-carrying lock. So I think they’re in a bit of a spot and I think Ireland are going to clean up on Saturday.”

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