Woodward slams England's preparation
November 18, 2012
Former England boss Sir Clive Woodward believes England were ill-prepared for Saturday's Cook Cup clash with Australia © Getty Images
Sir Clive Woodward has questioned the thoroughness of England's preparation for Saturday's a 20-14 defeat to Australia.
The former England boss turned up the heat on current coach Stuart Lancaster by slamming his side for not taking points when they were on offer in a keenly-contested clash at Twickenham. England opted for quick tap penalties and kicks to the corner for lineouts as they chased the game in the second half in the hope of notching a match-defining try but their gambles did not pay off. Woodward believes that those were the wrong calls to make and insists had they got their preparation right then the result may have been different.
"The biggest thing is trying to be smart ahead of the game," Woodward told BBC Radio Five Live's Sportsweek programme. "If you sat down on a Thursday night and gave the players the situation - you are 20-14 down with 22 minutes to go, you have a penalty, the ball is slow, what do you do? - the right decision is to kick for goal and reduce the points to just three.
"If you go for the line-out or go for the try you have to score and if you don't you give huge momentum to the defending team, in this case Australia. The key thing is not making decisions in the heat of battle, it is getting these things in players' heads before you go on the pitch, so you know what is going to happen in every single situation. That is the secret to coaching."
England must re-group ahead of next weekend's clash with South Africa with New Zealand also set to visit Twickenham next month and Woodward has urged them to "toughen up" if they want to trouble the two best sides in the world.
"There is a big opportunity for Stuart Lancaster to make his mark as a coach this week," Woodward said. "He has to turn this around and go into South Africa, when they will be underdogs, to see if they can put in a performance.
"You don't get many chances to beat Australia. They were short of six or seven frontline players. This was a big chance lost. They now have a week to put this right. They have a big chance to bounce back.
"Hopefully history looks back and this (Australia match) will be a big learning and a big reality check for the whole team. England have to understand international rugby is a very tough business. He (Lancaster) has got to pick a tougher team. International rugby is a tough, uncompromising game and you have to win those battles."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton
Wales were just 13 minutes from a famous victory, but the lessons to be learned in defeat are almost exactly the same as those from previous near-misses, writes Huw Richards
Ahead of England's clash with Samoa, Scrum Sevens takes a wander down memory lane and celebrates seven examples of Pacific Islands magic