Ex-international out-half Andy Goode has called on England to show a bit more ingenuity in attack after reviewing the latest forwards-dominated display by Eddie Jones’ team, the suffocating 18-7 win over Ireland where they were happy to allow the opposition have the ball and just tackle all Saturday long. 

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Having opened their autumn Test programme with a stuttering attacking Six Nations performance against Italy, England are now on course to top Nations Cup Group A and set up a final with France following victories over Georgia and Ireland.

However, former No10 Goode would like to see England threaten more in attack to give the fans watching from home a greater level of entertainment than they have been getting across the entire Autumn Nations Cup, the pandemic era tournament dreamed up to replace the traditional tours to Europe by the big southern hemisphere rugby countries.

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Sam Underhill reflects on England’s defensive masterclass versus Ireland

“Great England won but I’m just looking at all the games – how s*** is some of the ruggers? England, unbelievable defence performance, but we’re celebrating us not having the ball,” said Goode on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, the show he co-hosts with Jim Hamilton, the former Scotland forward. 

“I don’t know whether it’s because there are no fans. International rugby as it is at the minute, I just don’t think it’s that great the quality of rugby.

“Apart from Jonny May’s try, which was just unbelievable, a lot of the England game there wasn’t much get out of your seat and jump for joy. It was just a calculated, physical training session. It was a bit of anti-climax to us beating Ireland. 

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“I want to see us attack more, I really do, but then we are very good at what we do. We’re winning games by not playing too much ruggers, booting the leather off of it, letting Maro (Itoje) go around and smash people, and the back row, Underhill and Curry, what did they make, 7,400 tackles or something between them? It’s just madness.

“We’re very good at what we do. Our kicking game is on point, our kick-chase is ridiculous at times and just putting pressure on teams, it’s very difficult to see how teams can break us down with the physicality from one to 15 and then you bring on boys off the bench as well, the workrate is phenomenal. 

“It’s just missing a spark. Apart from Jonny May’s worldie of a try – and by the way, his chip kick definitely came off the shin but a hell of a finish – that’s exciting, that’s what gets you off your seat but England are very… I don’t want to say dour, we’re just damn good at playing the percentages.

“I just see we are good at crash and bash. Sometimes you want a bit more. We could have put 30, 40 points on that Ireland team had we had a bit more ingenuity in attack. But hey, I’m just picking on the fact that we are the best team in the world right now and I just want us to be better. We’re great at what we do but it’s just not getting us all out of our seats and exciting us as much as we want.”

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Co-host Hamilton didn’t agree, the former engine room operator instead claiming the physical battle was sufficiently entertaining for him. “I’m the opposite,” he said. “I like the physical aspect of rugby. That is something that I really enjoy watching, even to the point where I put out a tweet about Quinn Roux. 

“People are like what are you talking about? You watch how that bloke was entering rucks, I was loving it. His physicality of smashing England players around the breakdown, I was loving watching it. The scrums, the mauls. 

“I don’t know whether there was an element of all of us thinking that because there are no fans we are all a little down on it. We all feel like we should be there, the atmosphere, what is the Autumn Nations Cup – is it an important championship for these players?

“Scotland should have been playing New Zealand last weekend but they were playing France in front of no fans… but how good are England though? That is the point of it, what do you do if you are England, just do what works? The physicality they have got, it’s unbelievable and it was the part I enjoyed watching at the weekend.”

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