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Steve Borthwick: 'We weren’t beaten, we just ran out of time'

By Liam Heagney
Head coach Steve Borthwick addresses his England players post-game in Lyon (Photo by Dan Mullan/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

Steve Borthwick has sidestepped the debate over whether the Saturday night’s match-deciding penalty given against Ben Earl was warranted, preferring instead to focus on the improvements that England have made since their reputation-denting loss to Scotland three weeks ago.

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The English were on the cusp of nailing their first away win over France since 2016 but their 31-30 lead was snatched from them in the last minute when a no-arms tackle was awarded against Earl, inviting Thomas Ramos to split the posts from the halfway line.

Rather than finishing in second place on the table with a 4-1 record in the tournament for the first time since 2020, that one swing of a French boot consigned England to third and a 3-2 outcome for the campaign.

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Asked if the penalty call against Earl was warranted, Borthwick claimed: “This isn’t the moment to be dissecting that.”

What he preferred to talk about was “an incredible Test match” where he believed England weren’t beaten, they simply ran out of time against a French team they outscored by four tries to three.

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“We didn’t get the result we wanted but you look at the players and the fight that they had, the intensity that they had, I get the sense now that these guys don’t think they are ever beaten.

“We weren’t beaten tonight, we just ran out of time. You see the way they went back at it to try and find another score and anyone watching that would have thought there was another score in us, so I don’t think we were beaten. The fight that is there, I don’t think these boys are ever beaten now, they just ran out of time.

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“My overriding emotion is immense pride in the players and gratitude to our supporters. The players have been incredible. They played really well and I’m really disappointed for them.

“I talked about the weight of the shirt in the past and with the kind of support we are getting, the England shirt is starting to feel a bit lighter, it’s helping these players grow.

“This is a new team, we have got a mix. Some with incredible experience, some with only a handful of caps, young players – we’re going to make mistakes… it’s understanding that within our framework mistakes can be made and the players have just got to get back into the next battle.

“That is one big lesson we have learned because of Murrayfield, getting into the next battle. You have seen that in the next two games.

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“We have taken on two teams in the top four of the world and we have shown how we can compete with them.

“And just to be clear here, we don’t just want to be competing, we want to win. We have shown the team has stepped forward.”

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Comments

5 Comments
D
Dan 116 days ago

This sounds a lot like the old Welsh rugby proverb

“Wales never lose. Other teams just score more points.”

G
Guy 117 days ago

...and England lost neither the 6 Nations nor the World Cup, they were also missing time! Before every match Borthwick should be asked how many minutes he should last. It's precisely for this kind of stupidity that we like to beat them.

B
Bull Shark 117 days ago

Ireland didn’t beat Scotland. Scotland just ran out of time.

M
Michael 117 days ago

Defeat was nothing to do with the clock or the referee. It was down to English errors, probably linked to French physical dominance. When England did break free from the French power game they looked good. France on the day though had too much for them.

A
Ace 117 days ago

What? Does Borthwick not know the duration of a rugby test match?

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