Six Nations

Woodward 'welcomes' Jones to the England Murrayfield losers' club

2018-02-25 19:46
Clive Woodward (Gallo)

Edinburgh - World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward said Eddie Jones had been put through a "rite of passage" following England's shock 25-13 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Scotland's first win over their oldest rivals in a decade dealt a stunning blow to Six Nations champions England's hopes of a successful title defence and ended their bid for a second Grand Slam in three years.

It was just England's second defeat in 26 Tests under Australian coach Jones.

Three years before Woodward guided England to a 2003 World Cup final win over an Australia side coached by Jones, his hopes of a Grand Slam died in a final round 19-13 loss away to Scotland.

"Welcome to the club, Eddie," Woodward wrote in his Mail on Sunday column. "It is almost a rite of passage for British coaches to get turned over at least once in their careers by an inspired Scotland side at Murrayfield and that's what happened good and proper on Saturday. I've got the T-shirt as well."

While praising Scotland's "magnificent" display, Woodward said his "heart sank" to see England captain Dylan Hartley withdrawn early in the second half.

Watching reserve hooker Jamie George come on for Hartley shortly after interval has become a familiar sight during Jones's tenure.

But Woodward said Hartley had to stay on to provide "leadership and inspiration" in a situation on Saturday where England were two scores behind at 22-13 down.

"I can't get my head around this 'finishing' business," said the former England and British and Irish Lions centre. "Can you imagine Lawrence Dallaglio or Martin Johnson (two of Woodward's England captains) going off at Murrayfield with 25 minutes to go when their team are in dire trouble?"

Woodward was, however, delighted to see Scotland "back in business" following a match where they scored three tries, with centre Huw Jones crossing twice and wing Sean Maitland also going over in a scintillating first half.

Prior to Saturday's match, it had been 14 years since Scotland last scored a try against England at Murrayfield.

"Scotland were magnificent and showed conclusively that the quality they displayed in defeat by New Zealand in November, and against a 14-man Australia, was not false or an illusion," Woodward wrote. "Far from it, this was the validation that we have all been waiting for. Scotland are back in business."

Woodward said he had "no real explanation at the moment" for England's poor display, citing Scotland's 34-7 loss to Wales in the first round as a reason to avoid rushing to judgement.

"The coach in me knows that you never make snap judgements on one poor performance and defeat. If you did that you would have written off Scotland three weeks ago when they got taken apart by Wales."

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