Rugby World Cup 2011
Flood: Take responsibility
Toby Flood (AFP)
Dunedin - Flyhalf Toby Flood has added his voice to the criticism of England's Rugby World Cup performances, calling for players to take responsibility for the "silly errors" that could end their campaign early.
England has won each of its opening two pool matches, but manager Martin Johnson and backrower James Haskell are among those to publicly criticize error-strewn performances in which England conceded a total of 25 penalties.
"There was a lot of frustration out on the pitch because we were doing things that we probably would never do in training in a game of touch," Flood said.
Argentina and Georgia missed 11 shots on goal between them, with such profligacy unlikely from top-class opponents later in the tournament.
Flood said England's problems - handling in the ruck, not rolling away, forced offloads and simple turnovers - stem from frustration among players trying to force the initiative rather than acquiesce to a defense-based, pressure game.
"We definitely trust our system but we have to get over the frustration and the anxiety it causes by us not having the ball for a while," Flood said. "We'll get it back, they'll kick it back or they'll turn it over in a knock on or whatever it may be."
That approach yielded results for England in the past, with calm possession through multiple phases and a tight defense taking the team to the 2003 Six Nations Grand Slam and World Cup title. An experienced squad also recovered from a disastrous 36-0 first-round defeat to South Africa to reach the final four years ago.
Johnson said after the game that it was that experience and smartness that differentiated the 2003 squad he was captain of from the current vintage he is leading as team manager.
"It was one of those games where we had a game plan of 'don't do X' and we did it," Flood said. "We needed to keep the ball for four or five phases and we turned it over after a couple. It's the silly errors that grind on you the most but they're the easy things to change.
"It's not as though our lineout malfunctions or our scrum is pushed backwards or our backs can't catch. It's just a decision-making thing and those are the easiest things to change."
Jonny Wilkinson has spoken about how he tries to live his life as though he is on camera 24 hours a day, an approach he says helps him maintain discipline and personal standards.
Flood, his rival for the No. 10 shirt, acknowledged the usefulness of such an approach.
"If I had a 24-hour video session of myself and watched myself in the game, would I be happy? I think a lot of us would say 'no,'" Flood said. "There's a time and a place for going "we'll get better, we'll get better." The most important thing is to be clear and concise about how we're going to do it and we have to be accountable as individuals."
And would Flood be happy with his personal 24-hour tape?
"It's a bit dull, but it's alright," Flood smiled.