Former England captain Will Carling has said that it is “very dangerous” to judge England’s preparation for the 2019 World Cup final on two incidents, following critical comments made by Clive Woodward. 

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The 2003 RWC-winning coach pulled no punches recently on a webinar hosted by St Mary’s University Twickenham, where he is a visiting professor, labelling England’s conduct ahead of the final loss to South Africa as “embarrassing” and “really poor”.  

The two main contentions Woodward had were the way Joe Marler and Dan Cole conducted themselves at a press conference prior to the final, and the fact that the team were late to arrive for the match. 

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Marler has already objected to these comments, saying “change the record Sir Clive” on Twitter. 

The 64-year-old Woodward contrasted the lead-up to last November’s final with England’s preparation for the semi-final win against the All Blacks the previous week, where he said: “In the build-up everything was great.”

Carling has now also responded on Twitter, saying that there are thousands of interactions before a game for players and that two do not derail a team.

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He said: “Taking late arrival of the team and a press conference as evidence that England weren’t ready for a World Cup final is very dangerous. Getting ready for a game is about 100s, 1,000s of tiny interactions, moments. Two do not derail a team…”

Carling has not only worked with Eddie Jones during his tenure as England head coach, operating as a leadership mentor, but he captained England at the 1991 and 1995 World Cups. 

He was well accustomed to the rigours of preparing high-pressure games from his own experience, having taken England to the final 29 years ago and then the semi-final in South Africa. He was likely also very aware of the state of mind of the Jones’ side in 2019, meaning he is well qualified to offer a retort.

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Woodward’s take on events in Japan has already proven to be polarising, and Carling will likely not be the last person to offer their opinion on the matter.

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