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Clive Woodward settles debate over England's red card

By Sam Smith
England v Ireland – Guinness Six Nations – Twickenham Stadium

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Former England head coach Clive Woodward has settled the debate over lock Charlie Ewel’s first minute red card which left Eddie Jones’ side down to 14-men for nearly the entire match.

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Despite the loss of Ewels, a resilient England side stayed in the match at 15-all with a quarter to go before being blown out by Ireland in the final 15 minutes.

During the halftime show on ITV, Woodward said England can’t complain with the decision as the rules are there for a reason as Irish lock James Ryan, the man tackled, was forced from the field for the entire game.

“I think when it happened, you just can’t go in that high, head on head,” said Woodward.

“At the end of the day, James Ryan is off, he’s off for the whole game. He’s had a bad concussion before but this is why the rules are there.”

Woodward went back to comments made by the England camp from their coaching staff around the game being like a World Cup semi-final but questioned whether the side was disciplined enough for it.

“All week the defensive coach for the England team, Anthony Seibold, Eddie Jones, they keep saying, this is the semi-final of a World Cup, in a semi-final you’ve got to play disciplined.

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“There’s no malice. Ewels isn’t a dirty player, but at the end of the day it’s a red card.

“You can’t be clashing heads like that. You’ve got to be coming in low and go up.”

Former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson in ITV’s post-game show said England ‘got tired’ in a match that they had to play to perfection once down to 14-men.

“England got tired with all that effort, that fatigue was sitting under the surface. Then Ireland did what they needed to do all game, which was hold onto the ball,” he said.

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“When you’re playing with 14 men every decision is so crucial, if you make a wrong decision it is exacerbated.

“England were having to be so precise, so alert, so sure about what they were doing.”

Keeping up that level of accuracy for the full 80-minutes proved to be too much for England, who wilted in the final quarter as Ireland added a penalty goal and two tries to seal the match.

England’s Six Nations title hopes are all but over but they can play spoiler in the final round clash against France in Paris, which would aid Ireland’s hopes if they can manage a victory over Scotland at home.

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