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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Matt Verri

Steve Borthwick claims England ‘weren’t good at anything’ under Eddie Jones after opening Six Nations defeat

Steve Borthwick has claimed England “weren’t good at anything” under Eddie Jones as he emphasised the size of the job he faces.

Following Jones’ dismissal last month, Borthwick led England for the first time on Saturday as they got their Six Nations campaign up and running at Twickenham with a 29-23 defeat to Scotland, who once again hold the Calcutta Cup.

With a World Cup looming on the horizon later this year, there is not a huge amount of time for Borthwick to rebuild a team that has now lost seven of their past 11 Six Nations matches.

However, in a brutal assessment of the job Jones did in his final months in charge, Borthwick drew attention to a number of areas that he feels require a major overhaul.

“I’ve been frank from day one in saying there’s a lot of work to do,” the England head coach said. “When I looked at the team in the autumn, when I got all the data for the team, we weren’t good at anything.

“There’s multiple areas that we have tried to change. You saw some improvement in the scrum, which I was pleased about, because it has been ranked as the worst scrum in Tier One rugby.

“We saw some improvements in the attack and speed of ball, and we tried to improve the breakdown, where I think England were ranked the ninth-quickest, so one of the slowest in Tier One.”

England welcome Italy to Twickenham next weekend, in a match that is a must-win despite the Italians’ impressive display on Sunday as they fell to a narrow defeat to France.

Much of Borthwick’s limited time in charge has been spent overhauling Jones’ set-up, but he knows results on the pitch are what he will ultimately be judged on.

“I want to win,” Borthwick said. “We all want the England team to win — and three quarters of the way through that game [against Scotland], I thought we were going to. You have got to be hard to score against. You have got to be hard to beat.

“I can say there are areas that we want to improve on, we want to win. I said on my first day in the job, I’ve got to make sure this team delivers. I am bitterly disappointed with the result.

“I’m also understanding it’s a first step for us as a new team. But there were some really strong performances and it gives you things to improve on and build on.”

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