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South Africa loss sealed worst ever week for English rugby – Sir Clive Woodward

Eddie Jones is under renewed pressure after England collapsed to their worst year since 2008 (Ben Whitley/PA)
Eddie Jones is under renewed pressure after England collapsed to their worst year since 2008 (Ben Whitley/PA)

Sir Clive Woodward insists Saturday’s dire 27-13 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham has completed the “worst week in English rugby history”.

England produced one of the lowest points of the Eddie Jones era against a Springboks side missing their European-based players, ending a dismal Autumn Nations Series that has delivered a solitary victory over Japan.

It completes the nation’s least successful year since 2008, with Jones presiding over six defeats, one draw and five wins in 12 outings.

Sir Clive Woodward says English rugby is a
Sir Clive Woodward says English rugby is a ‘total shambles’ (Mike Egerton/PA)

In echoes of the 2019 World Cup final, they failed to fire a shot against South Africa and the bitter climax to the campaign came two days after rugby chiefs were accused of presiding over “failure on an epic scale” by MPs in response to the financial collapse of Worcester and Wasps.

“This was the worst week in English rugby history,” 2003 World Cup-winning coach Woodward told The Mail on Sunday.

“The game in this country is a total shambles and defeat to a South Africa side without nine of its best players showed it.

“When are the leading figures at the RFU going to wake up and realise English rugby is in trouble? Everything is not OK. Eddie Jones will be allowed to carry on as he likes yet again.

“I was lost for words watching the South Africa game. It was that bad. It was one of the most depressing games I’ve seen at HQ. The England team is miles off where it needs to be.

“I’ve never seen people booing at the final whistle at Twickenham before. It really, really hurts me to see and hear that. I hate it. But at the same time, it also reflects where England are at right now.”

Mike Brown, the nation’s most capped full-back and a stalwart of Jones’ reign until 2018, believes his former head coach must be “held to account” when he faces the customary review from the Rugby Football Union.

Nine Tests out from the 2023 World Cup and England are besieged by problems and frailties, identifying them as merely fringe contenders for the Springboks’ global crown.

Former England full-back Mike Brown says Eddie Jones must be
Former England full-back Mike Brown says Eddie Jones must be “held to account” (Paul Harding/PA)

“I have stopped believing what comes out of Eddie Jones’ mouth. I’m hearing the same things over and over again,” Brown told The Mail on Sunday.

“We keep getting fed all these narratives about growth and playing style, but it’s not being backed up on the pitch.

“He keeps saying it’s his fault, so what is he doing about it? The time for talking is over. People are bored with it. He needs to be held to account.”

Boos rang out from the crowd at the final whistle and Maro Itoje, one of England’s better performers, called on supporters to remain loyal to the team with the Six Nations little over two months away.

Maro Itoje has urged England fans to stand by the team
Maro Itoje has urged disgruntled England fans to stand by the team (Ben Whitley/PA)

“We’re disappointed. We know we’ve got more in the tank. We know that we’ve got more to unleash but we’re not we’re not putting that out on a consistent basis, only during glimpses,” Itoje said.

“We put a lot of effort into this and when we fall short it’s really not where we want to be, not what we represent.

“I would say to the fans just trust the process. Trust the process. I know it’s difficult now.

“As players we are working hard to try and make that right, but we really appreciate the fans, we appreciate the support, and when Twickenham is rocking it’s a special place to be. We need their support, but trust the process.”