Jonny May (AP)
London - England assistant coach Andy Farrell and winger Jonny May have refuted former captain Will Carling's assertion that England players were treated as "schoolboys" in Stuart Lancaster's "classroom orientated environment".
Carling was scathing of captain Chris Robshaw's decision to go for an attacking lineout minutes from the end of their 28-25 Rugby World Cup defeat by Wales on Saturday instead of giving Owen Farrell the chance to kick an albeit difficult penalty from close to the touchline and draw the game.
"I got the sense that England were panicking. I don't blame Chris as much as I blame others," Carling told BBC Radio Five Live.
"I've listened to (head coach) Stuart Lancaster say for years that 'I don't have the leaders and, therefore we're having to make all the decisions as coaches'. It's a very classroom-orientated environment."
Carling, who skippered England 59 times in his 73 appearances between 1988 and 1997, more than any other player apart from Robshaw, then blasted: "What we watched in the last 10 minutes was a confused debate between people who have never been given responsibility to lead and drive the team. Instead, we've treated them as schoolboys."
May, who scored England's only try in the first half, said it was "unfair" to brand Lancaster and his management team as schoolteachers.
"The coaching team is the best I have ever had in my life," he told reporters.
"I could not have learned more in this environment. This environment is brilliant.
"This environment is player-led. We sit down and present to one another. We get input in training. They come to us in terms of moves. It is a much player-led environment than I am used to."
Farrell added: "It is disappointing from someone who is not in the environment. I have been involved in many environments and this is as good as I have ever seen. It allows them to express themselves as leaders and as players."
The defeat by Wales at Twickenham left England facing a must-win game on Saturday against Australia who have won their first two Pool A games.