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Many people are using the same phrase about Steve Borthwick's England

By Ian Cameron
England players during their loss to Wales (PA)

In the wake of England’s lacklustre 20-9 Summer Nations Series defeat to Wales, head coach Steve Borthwick has been left to grapple with a myriad of errors and a disappointing performance from his team.

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The match, which saw England squander a lead of 9-8 at the interval, has led to a wave of concern among fans and pundits alike, with many using the same term – ‘underwhelming’ – to describe the team’s showing.

Borthwick, clearly aware of the gravity of the situation, stated after the match that he would take a period of reflection ahead of announcing his World Cup squad tomorrow. The defeat to Wales has left the coach with some crucial decisions to make, as he aims to assemble the best possible team for the upcoming tournament.

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“I will reflect where I am in terms of the squad selection and whether this game changes anything or clarifies anything regarding that,” Borthwick. “I will reflect where I am in terms of the squad selection and whether this game changes anything or clarifies anything regarding that.

Points Flow Chart

Wales win +11
Time in lead
34
Mins in lead
25
42%
% Of Game In Lead
31%
14%
Possession Last 10 min
86%
0
Points Last 10 min
0

“It is another piece of information in terms of the full picture, which is what I was always after on each and every one of the players to make the best-informed decision. This game informs many different elements and it is another step as we build forward through these four games.”

Despite it being ‘just a World Cup warm-up game’ it’s clear that the England faithful are losing patience with how this England team are performing. Borthwick has just two wins from six outings as head coach, and the nature of yesterday’s defeat to Wales has left fans and pundits highly concerned.

Former England head coach and outspoken Daily Mail columnist Clive Woodward went in hard in his column. “There can be no doubt that this was one of the poorest games I’ve ever seen England play,” wrote Woodward. “I thought England would win comfortably looking at the two sides but they were second best by a long way.”

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Woodward was particularly alarmed by England set-piece. “The biggest disappointment from an English perspective was the set-piece. For all the team’s recent struggles across the board, England’s scrum and line-out are normally very good. But in Cardiff, they were nowhere near the standard required to win international matches. In Test rugby, the set-piece is everything and England weren’t at the races.”

The term ‘underwhelming’ gained traction on social media, with fans and commentators expressing their disappointment at England’s latest flop.

Welsh journalist and broadcaster Ross Harris wrote: “As for England, a concerning reversal in the second half. Handling errors abounded, and set-piece crumbled. Borthwick remained impassive, but those lineout steals will have cut to his core. Plenty of time and rugby to come, but an underwhelming start.”

The Harlequins podcast had similar thoughts, writing: “Feeling very underwhelmed by Borthwick… Talked a good game in his first press conference of reconnecting with fans and bringing excitement – none of that has come to fruition. Will we ever see a “Bazball” equivalent in English Rugby?”

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Former England player, Kyran Bracken, was dismayed at the amount of box kicking from England, despite being a 51 cap scrumhalf. “I know it’s a warm up game but why do England Rugby box kick everything? It’s painful!”

There were many, many more in that vein.

Even the Associated Press described the England performance as “horribly underwhelming”. England now have a chance to bounce back in Twickenham. With Borthwick naming his side tomorrow, if anything it adds more pressure on England to perform over the coming weekends. They must now bounce back in Twickenham next weekend.

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