Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has hit out at England and boss Steve Borthwick following the Roses’ record loss to France in London.
Saturday’s 53-10 defeat against reigning Six Nations kings Les Bleus at Twickenham was England’s heaviest home loss, topping the 36-point gap inflicted by South Africa in the Springboks’ 42-6 success in 2008.
The weekend’s humiliating thrashing was also England’s third-worst loss anywhere, and speaking on SuperSport’s Final Whistle show, Mallett slammed the tactics of the English against the French, along with their defence and lack of creativity in attack.
“England are really battling,” he said. “They haven’t got ball carriers, they haven’t got a really physical front row that can take on the opposition.
“Their locks are like our flankers, their flankers are like opensiders, they’re not ball carriers either. So they don’t have anyone to get across the advantage line.
“When you looked at France playing, it looked like men against boys. The three French loose forwards just dominated that game. [Jonathan] Danty took it up, made three turnovers as a centre. It just looked like men against club players.
“They are in a spot of trouble, England. If they go in there with [Marcus] Smith, it goes against the whole ethos of what Borthwick was doing at the beginning, which was to go back to basics and concentrate on the scrum, concentrate on the lineout, territory and defence.
He added: “If you’re a coach, you’ve got to have a clear idea of where you want to go with the team at your disposal. So, say for example you’re picking up a team that hasn’t been doing well, you want to make sure they don’t take big hidings.
“Start off with small steps and I thought Borthwick did that quite well, intelligently to begin with. But by bringing Marcus Smith in, it really did change the dynamic. Suddenly it looked like he said ‘let’s play fast and loose against the French.’ Now that’s the one thing you never do against the French, and they just profited from so many English errors.
“There were no good ball carriers, there were no decent set pieces, their kicking game wasn’t good, the physicality of the French – and the Irish – is a step above anything English rugby is producing at the moment.
“In this team, you’re casting your net out wide and you can’t find a decent tighthead prop in England, you can’t find a good ball-carrying lock. So I think they’re in a bit of a spot and I think Ireland are going to clean up on Saturday.”
England will play the final match of the 2023 Six Nations away to the world’s top-ranked team, Ireland, at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
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