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'The English, how do I say... the absolute ignorance' - Irish TV tear in England

By Ian Cameron
England's Marcus Smith and Owen Farrell after the Guinness Six Nations match at Twickenham Stadium, London. Picture date: Saturday March 11, 2023. (Photo by Ben Whitley/PA Images via Getty Images)

An Irish television panel have torn into to an apparent expectation in English rugby that the selection of Marcus Smith would prove a panacea for an ailing England side, insisting the issues are more deep-rooted.


In a devastating blow to their Six Nations title hopes and a rude awakening for head coach Steve Borthwick’s new regime, England suffered a record-breaking home defeat at the hands of France, losing 53-10 at Twickenham.

At halftime, England found themselves trailing by a staggering 27-3, marking their largest halftime deficit in any fixture at Twickenham. The team was completely overwhelmed and now appear to be again in the midst of a full-blown crisis, as France systematically dismantled them up front.

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On Irish television, a Virgin Media panel made up of Andrew Trimble, Rob Kearney and Matt Williams tore into the unfounded expectations placed on the shoulders of Marcus Smith, who was selected to start ahead of Owen Farrell for the game.

Williams weighed in: “It’s a beautiful story – “Bring back Eddie Jones!” – that’s what I can hear the English press saying – “We were wrong!”

“The English, how do I say… the absolute ignorance that I’ve been reading during the week about the selection of Marcus Smith. I’m not criticising the young man in any way – but it was delusional, it was delusional to think that the problems of that team were around Marcus. Marcus is a fine player, who tried very hard today.

“We can all see there are huge systemic problems with this team. Eddie Jones was very hard done by, in my opinion.


“Borthwick is finding out that this is not Leicester, this is not the Premiership, this is much bigger than that. They were shockingly poor in every aspect. The pace they played the game was at a snail’s pace.”

Trimble doubled-down on Williams point about Smith, saying the young player wasn’t to blame for England’s staggering collapse.

“Matt’s right – Marcus Smith is certainly not the bad guy here, but that whole debate is irrelevant,” said Trimble. “Across the board, France were better. Not just 1 through 15 – 1 through 23.”


The camera panned to Owen Farrell, who was giving a post-match speech to the players.

“[Owen Farrell] is searching hard. He’s really searching for something to say. That’s such a tough place to be – that’s not his first team talk today feeling depressed. At half-time the game was gone.

“It’s pretty depressing that you find yourself repeating the same thing three, four, five times and everybody’s looking elsewhere.”



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