Wednesday 23 May 2018

Graham Rowntree: We don't want a reputation as plucky losers

England's Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree
England's Forwards Coach Graham Rowntree

Duncan Bech

Graham Rowntree insists England will head to Edinburgh for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations clash with Scotland determined to shed their "plucky losers" tag.

For two successive matches England have staged courageous fightbacks, only to fall short against New Zealand in the autumn and France in last weekend's 26-24 defeat in Paris.

The Calcutta Cup showdown had become a must-win encounter if the Six Nations title is to remain a goal and Rowntree is braced for a Scottish ambush at Murrayfield.

"We don't want to be the plucky losers. In the last two games now we've lost in similar circumstances and it can't happen again," England's forwards coach said.

"It was a very down dressing room in Paris and rightly so, but it's our job as coaches to get the players back up very quickly because we have another big challenge this week.

"I was delighted with our intensity in our breakdown work and our carrying. Our game involvement was also better than it's ever been.

"But we can't get away from the fact we've lost a game we should have won and that's still hurting.

"Scotland will be fed up themselves after losing to Ireland and will be waiting for us at Murrayfield.

"We've had a good look at that game and they'll fancy their chances against us."

England's scrum struggled at the Stade de France, conceding two penalties that were sent between the uprights in a match that was decided by only two points.

"We shipped six points at the scrum, so I'm not happy with our performance there. Again," Rowntree said.

"I've been looking at that a lot since the weekend. I can't have that. You just can't give those penalties away.

"You look at the things we can control. We have a duty as players and coaches to show the referees good pictures and be proactive.

"So we've looked at what we can do better in terms of our bindings and set-up."

The state of the Murrayfield pitch has been condemned as sub-standard, but Rowntree insists England prepare to play on all surfaces.

"There aren't many perfect pitches around. A lot of these stadiums have pitch issues - the Millennium Stadium, the Stade de France," he said.

"We have to get on with what we can control. We train on enough imperfect surfaces ourselves, believe me."

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