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Borthwick is seeking an explanation for the sudden and unexpected collapse of England's performance.
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Borthwick is seeking an explanation for the sudden and unexpected collapse of England’s performance.

Steve Borthwick is seeking explanations from his England team for their collapse against Scotland. He plans to analyze the situation in detail this week, with Maro Itoje attributing the defeat to a change in playing style to “tip-tap rugby” and “hot potato” at Murrayfield.

When they regroup in York on Wednesday, England will conduct a comprehensive and truthful evaluation. Borthwick expressed confusion over his players’ inability to maintain a 10-0 lead, resulting in their fourth consecutive loss to Scotland in the Calcutta Cup. Despite George Furbank’s early try setting a strong foundation, England’s performance was plagued by numerous mistakes, with 22 turnovers throughout the match.

Borthwick expressed his understanding of the dissatisfaction among supporters. England will soon play against Ireland and France, with the likelihood of ending the Six Nations with two victories and three losses for the fourth consecutive year. He plans to question his players when they reconvene, with Itoje being one of the first to give his perspective.

Itoje expressed that we did not adhere to our planned strategy. We deviated into playing a more passive style of rugby. Our goal is to be a team that plays aggressively and directly. In the latter part of the first half, we did not fulfill this objective. Instead, we resorted to quick, aimless passing, which goes against our desired approach.

“We must maintain discipline in implementing our desired strategy. In any given game, we create a plan, but unexpected challenges may arise. The true test is being able to stick to our plan despite these challenges. Unfortunately, when faced with challenges, we strayed from our original plan.”

While Borthwick may not initially seem like a loud and aggressive coach, Itoje admitted that he is a strict leader and the players are prepared for a challenging review session.

Borthwick stated that there needs to be an examination of what occurred after the first 20 minutes. He plans to have a thorough conversation with the players to gain insight. He is particularly interested in understanding why there was a shift in the team’s style of play after the initial 20 minutes. What caused this change? What influenced their decision-making in attempting a different approach, resulting in an increase in mistakes? Borthwick acknowledges that he can only comprehend the reasoning behind these actions once he has discussed it with the players and heard their perspectives from being on the field.

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England’s departure from their original strategy after Scotland scored their first try through Duhan van der Merwe can be attributed to their adjustment to a new defensive system and their attempt to increase their attacking range. However, it must be noted that England’s performance was hindered by basic errors, which affected Borthwick’s team.

George Ford, the fly-half, acknowledged that there were moments where it was difficult to understand why the ball was dropped. He also recognized that the fast-paced and high-pressure environment of a Test match can affect execution. However, he emphasized that there are no excuses and their performance was far from satisfactory.

“The pain is intense. Our team had a total of 20 turnovers during the game. It is highly unlikely to win when there are that many turnovers.”

On Saturday, England entered the match with an impressive record of eight wins in nine games. However, their capabilities were highlighted by the fact that they have not been able to score more than two tries in a game since their dominant performance against Chile last September. Borthwick and his team discuss the idea of progress, but fans are becoming frustrated with this narrative after years of Eddie Jones conveying a similar message.

“We may encounter unfortunate experiences like [this], and it’s important that we address them on the field and take steps to correct them. This will be a conversation we have with the players, discussing how we can handle such situations. As we continue to build the team, we can expect some challenges along the way. I share the same disappointment as our supporters – that performance was not up to par.”

Source: theguardian.com