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Maro Itoje: England players 'the ones responsible'


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Maro Itoje will be forever haunted by Saturday’s historic defeat to Scotland as England embark on a period of soul-searching in the hope of reigniting their Guinness Six Nations campaign. The Scots registered their first victory at Twickenham since 1983 to spark wild celebrations on the 150th anniversary of the oldest fixture in international rugby, as the Calcutta Cup was swept back to Edinburgh.


The 11-6 scoreline flattered England, who produced one of the most alarming performances of the Eddie Jones era as their title defence entered trouble at the first hurdle.

“You never really forget these days, you never really forget these moments, and to be honest I don’t really want to forget them,” Itoje said.

“I want to move on from it, but I don’t want to forget it as it keeps you sharp. Losing like this at Twickenham is never what you dream of, so it’s definitely not ideal.”

Scotland’s pack, centred around Jonny Gray and Hamish Watson, were magnificent while Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Cameron Redpath provided the fireworks behind the scrum.

But England were dismal, slow and ponderous with their listless forwards unable to gain any foothold in the game and an out-of-sorts Owen Farrell struggling to launch a talented backline that was reduced to a spectator’s role.

Eddie Jones blamed himself as his team conceded a mass of early penalties and made fewer breaks than Hogg alone, but Itoje insists the players must take responsibility.


“We’re the ones on the field, we’re the ones responsible for our own performance,” the Saracens second row said.

“We didn’t give the best account of ourselves and as players we have to do better because that wasn’t good enough.

“All the players know that it wasn’t up to scratch. It’s a tough lesson to take but we’ve got four more games to control our destiny.


“I don’t know if shock is the right word – we know how Scotland play, we know the intensity they bring, but we were off the mark, unfortunately.

“We were off the mark and again we need to get better at our basics. The basics of our game, we didn’t bring.

“We have to roll up our sleeves and get ready for some hard work and some honest self-reflection and move forward.

“The core of this team has been together for a few years now and is very tight. We are going to stay together and stay strong and be there for one another.

“The most important thing is what we do next and how we move forward and that’s what I’m excited about – how we can galvanise ourselves and move forward.

“I would hope that if we have this opportunity again going into next week, we’ll see an improvement in our performance.

“Congratulations to Scotland, they hustled hard and fought hard. They were deserving winners.”

Italy’s arrival at Twickenham on Saturday offers the opportunity for England to relaunch their Six Nations and Farrell believes Scotland’s triumph will act as a catalyst.

“It is very disappointing to come out this side of the result but it’s not difficult to galvanise this team,” Farrell said.

I think this will light a fire in us for the rest of the tournament, not just waiting to see what happens but making it happen.”


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