Rugby World Cup winning coach Sir Clive Woodward is not surprised by England’s historical 30-22 defeat to the Flying Fijians at Twickenham on Sunday.
Woodward wrote in his Daily Mail column that he ‘feels sorry’ for England coach Steve Borthwick for their sobering loss to a tier two team and said Borthwick is not necessarily to blame for the loss.
“Saturday’s first defeat by Fiji in front of a very poor Twickenham crowd was a hugely sobering day for English rugby,” Woodward wrote.
“It was one that has been coming for years. The current predicament has not just happened overnight and it’s been left to Steve Borthwick to pick up the pieces.”
“I feel sorry for Borthwick that he is in this position but he cannot hide away. He cannot control what has happened with England in the past. But he can control the present and the future.”
Woodward recalled their infamous 1998 tour to Australia, New Zealand and South Africa saying that this is not the first time that England have been in the doldrums.
“It is a difficult position to be in as a coach when it feels as if everything is going wrong. I’ve been there with England. The 1998 ‘Tour of Hell’ saw us hammered by each team we faced.”
“Back then, we were heavily criticised by the press and rightly so. If I was in Borthwick’s shoes now, I’d accept the media scrutiny and tell the players to do the same.”
The 67-year-old also highlighted a couple of key areas Borthwick needs to look at if they are to give themselves an opportunity to be competitive at the World Cup.
“The result has not only been poor performances and results, but England fans voting with their feet. We saw that in the Fiji game with the top tier at Twickenham unsold. I never thought I would see that.
“Against Fiji, Marcus Smith came on and added some energy to the team from the unusual position of full-back but no other player could have left Twickenham saying they had a good day at the office.”