Saturday 21 September 2019

'Our calls were wrong' - Clive Woodward hits out at England's decision-makers after All Blacks defeat

Clive Woodward.
Clive Woodward.

Duncan Bech

Clive Woodward has condemned England's decision making in a 16-15 defeat by New Zealand that he insists should infuriate Eddie Jones.

Jones was pleased with a performance he viewed as evidence of a team making strong headway towards next year's World Cup, declaring "we're disappointed, but we're excited about where we're going".

England stormed 15-0 ahead at a rain-swept Twickenham and led until Beauden Barrett landed the match-winning penalty in the 60th minute, but Woodward is unable to look beyond the inability to seal a famous win against the All Blacks.

"There were lots of plus points, but they lost the game," Woodward told BBC Radio 5 Live's Sportsweek programme.

"That was a game England should have won and I'd be pretty cranky this morning if I was in Eddie's shoes.

"As the days go on they'll become a little more angry with themselves that they didn't win that game.

"I just don't believe coaching and playing for England is about building for the future.

"It's about the here and now and at the end of the day they lost to a very good All Blacks team. They lost by one point and you don't get many chances to beat the All Blacks."

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Woodward's greatest frustration is directed at the decision to go for the jugular with successive penalties in the 48th and 49th minutes by opting for attacking line-outs rather than kicking for goal.

Both times they fell short with the rolling maul that yielded a first-half try for Dylan Hartley and when Kyle Sinckler knocked on, the opportunity to extend their 15-13 lead was gone.

When New Zealand were in a similar position in the 60th minute, they kicked for the posts with Barrett landing what proved to be the match-winning penalty.

Jones backed his players, stating "they feel the game, we don't. We see the game", but Woodward insists they should have pre-ordained orders to take the points.

"Players do have to take the decisions on the pitch, but you can also do a lot of preparation off the pitch," Woodward said.

"The conditions were awful. At 15-13 up and with the clock going down, we had a chance of adding the points to go 18-13 up. We went for the line-out. That was a big mistake.

"If you are five points up, you drop a goal and you're eight points up and you win the game. Build the score.

"Everyone is harping on about the try or no try by Sam Underhill, but for me not to take those points was a big error.

"We've got the best goalkicker in the world in Owen Farrell. He's a 100 per cent goalkicker. And Elliot Daly can kick long ones.

"These leadership decisions on the field of play are absolutely key, especially as the clock counts down. They are what win or lose you a World Cup and we need to get a little bit better.

"Our calls against New Zealand were wrong. I think every player, if they were sat down in the classroom in the cold light of day, would say kick the goal."

Woodward also questioned the sense of having Owen Farrell as co-captain, saying "he's doing everything" and Jones' belief that a team needs around 800 caps to win the World Cup.

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