England second-rower Charlie Ewels never saw his team’s Guinness Six Nations crash in Dublin coming, the forward instead believing they were primed to continue on the impressive form shown in the previous round’s win over France.
Ireland wiped the floor with the English in Dublin, leading 20-6 at the interval before seeing out a 32-18 win where the visitors closed the margin with a pair of late tries following the red carding of midfielder Bundee Aki.
It left England finishing fifth on the table and suffering a slump that coach Eddie Jones was adamant they were not experiencing when he got into a media row in the wake of the round one defeat to Scotland, refusing to accept that 2021 could turn out like 2018 when their championship results previously went south.
Ewels initially started the tournament as part of the England shadow squad. Injury to Joe Launchbury quickly earned him a late January call-up and following caps off the bench against Italy and Wales, he made it into the starting line-up versus the French and the Irish.
So good were the English in the win over France that the subsequent collapse against Ireland caught them by surprise. “Training went up again, we trained better that week,” said Ewels, reflecting on the lead-in to last weekend’s round five finale.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 25, 2021
“It was ‘we showed we played well once, how are we going to do it again?’ Then for whatever reason, it doesn’t quite click on the day with a pretty flat, disappointing performance. I wasn’t sat there thinking this was going to be hard, I was thinking, ‘Here we go again, good test, good challenge’ and then it wasn’t to be.”
England overnighted in Dublin post-game, a decision that allowed them a small window to review what had happened before they all went their separate ways, Ewels back to Bath ahead of this Saturday’s trip to London Irish where the big news at the club has been the signing of the maverick Danny Cipriani.
“We stayed on in Dublin the night after, did a bit of a review. As with those things just the nature of time it all had to be wrapped up pretty quickly because we were going back on the plane back to your clubs so we sort of dug into it a little bit.
“I’m sure the coaches will dig into it more and there will be more conversations that will go on but it was disappointing because I genuinely believed the way that we trained and performed through the competition we were getting better week on week.
“The Scotland game was disappointing and the Italy game was a bit better. The Wales game, despite the result, the performance was definitely better from Italy, a step-up and the France game was good and pushed it to a new level and then it was a shame after that.
“I felt the way we prepared that week it was there to push and go again. As with the nature of sport, it’s straight into the next thing. You have almost got no time to dwell. We did that, had a bit of a review on Sunday and then you’re back home and back in the club Monday, so it’s like a new challenge, a new environment again. I probably haven’t personally thought too much about it to be honest.”
'It was a different situation but I left London Irish & retired in good faith before coming back to play for Newcastle towards the end of that same season. I gave Irish first refusal when I came back, though & they said no'
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) March 26, 2021
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