sport news SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Steve Borthwick's 14 men put pride back in the England ... trends now
The contrast between England’s woeful performance against France last Saturday and in the game with Ireland in Dublin last night was like chalk and cheese.
After the hammering Steve Borthwick’s side took by Les Bleus, they put pride back in the shirt at the Aviva Stadium, even if it wasn’t enough to stop an Irish Grand Slam.
I wrote in the build-up to the game that I simply couldn’t see a single way England could win this match but they deserve credit for the way they responded to France.
Borthwick saw his team lose Freddie Steward to a red card, one which I thought was not worthy of a sending off, but even with 14 men they were in the contest with the world’s No1 side. At 60 minutes, England were only a point behind and they can take heart from that.
Before I analyse England further, I want to give credit to Ireland. They fully deserved to win the Grand Slam this year. Ireland and France are the two best sides on the planet right now.
Ireland beat England 29-16 to win the Grand Slam title on Saturday afternoon - claiming a historic victory at the Aviva Stadium - but Steve Borthwick's men put pride back in the shirt
Freddie Steward was sent off on the brink of half time after inadvertently putting Hugo Keenan on the floor with his shoulder, making contact with the full-back's head as he picked up the ball
Facing those teams in the past fortnight has been a huge learning experience for England. The two losses have shown England exactly where they are.
Ireland was much better before the team ran out of puff in the final quarter, with Steward having seen red and Jack Willis in the sin bin. It is impossible to defend against a team like Ireland with a man down, let alone with 13 players on the pitch. The result was inevitable late Irish tries.
Despite those scores, England never fell apart in Dublin as they did against France. It is strange to be in a position talking positively about England after another loss. Any England senior side should be looking to win each and every game it plays.
That must be the aim for us as a major rugby nation but at the same time the reality is that is not possible at the moment.
England are far behind the best teams on the planet and have to build from a lower base. There is significant work for the team to do looking ahead to the World Cup this year.
I don’t think Steward’s red card ruined the game because, in my view, Ireland were always going to win and would have done so anyway had England stayed with 15 on the field.
England succumbed to their worst defeat at Twickenham last Saturday, losing 10-53 to France
Jamie George gave England's hard-working 14 the least they deserved - a try against Ireland
But at the same time, I didn’t think the full-back should have been dismissed. When Steward collided with his opposite