I wouldn’t jump to judgment right away if Scotland had defeated England. Overall, it was a respectable performance, but after that game, there is one thing that worries me and many England supporters.
By selecting Owen Farrell as his captain, new head coach Steve Borthwick has placed himself in a bind.
On Saturday, Farrell started at inside center, continuing his pairing with fly-half Marcus Smith. As was the case so frequently in 2022, the pair did not quite gel.
I don’t see how that midfield will be a strong enough threat moving ahead to compete at the highest level.
When you’re a fly-half playing with that level of ferocity against a stout Scottish defense, you want other players to be smashing it up and making the carries to open up space for your next wave of attack, which will involve you. Unfortunately, as a 12-year-old, Farrell lacks the necessary skills.
The issue is that, with Farrell as captain, it will make huge news if Borthwick experiments in that area and fires his skipper as a result.
It is unnecessary strain Borthwick has put on himself, and I don’t think anyone would have questioned it if he hadn’t made Farrell captain in the first place.
I am aware of how much Farrell contributes to the team. I just don’t know if we should ask him to play at 12 when he has been performing better for his team Saracens at 10.
A glance from Steve Borthwick to Owen Farrell
At Saracens, Steve Borthwick and Owen Farrell had played together.
Due to England’s ineffective 10 and 12, outside center Joe Marchant suffered on Saturday.
Marchant did not have enough room to take advantage of the opposition because no early gains were being achieved.
Joe Marchant would enter the game if you had either Farrell or Smith at 10 and more of a dominator at 12 who could distribute as a second idea as opposed to Farrell distributing at first thinking.
Borthwick might desire the feeling of having two 10s, but in order to break the gainline, you need ball-carriers.
To do it, you must look to your wingers or front pack. There was an imbalance and it is not exactly how England plays.
Perhaps we ought to give Manu Tuilagi or Ollie Lawrence a chance when they are 12 years old and see what results. On paper, I believe Smith, Tuilagi, and Marchant have a lot of potential.
Despite the painful loss, Borthwick believes that England is fighting for the future.
England did provide some clarification.
We did saw some clarity in England’s desired style of play, which is a plus. At the conclusion of Eddie Jones’ tenure as head coach, that was absent.
England desired to experience the phases. They would kick the ball far for a kick-chase if they were uncertain inside their own half.
On the occasion when Duhan van der Merwe scored, it obviously did not work, but generally speaking, their close-quarter defense looked quite sharp and well-drilled.
Scotland’s defense also appeared to be very strong. In the early stages of the game, there was never a moment when you believed England would prevail.
It was no problem for Ellis Genge, Kyle Sinckler, and Lewis Ludlam to take the ball up and make a few yards repeatedly to wear down the defense so they could take advantage of the broader channels.
It occasionally worked, but it has been established that it is insufficient to win important Test matches when the opposition has a robust arsenal.
England needs to learn how to win games.
The fourth area that England must address is a long-standing problem. To win a game, they must find it within themselves.
Instead of being a problem that Borthwick can fix, it might be more of an England issue. I believe it may simply be the way players are raised in the English system. It is not always coached like it once was.
In the second half, England led by eight points at one point. They appeared to be in charge, then all of a sudden they started to flee.
scrum-half for Scotland After Ben White scored a try, the situation considerably changed.
Simply said, it seems to be an English player trait that when they find themselves in winning situations, they lack the proper grasp of how to finish the game.
I would argue that this has been going on for well over a decade. It’s not like it’s a problem with the Stuart Lancaster, Eddie Jones, or even the Borthwick regimes.
England has played significant games that they ought to have won, particularly at Twickenham.
I know I’ve harped on about it a lot, but that is the kind of stuff that will really help the England team.
Thankfully, they will be able to continue their work with Borthwick in their upcoming game against Italy, which should be less difficult.
Add to it the injured players who will eventually make a comeback, like Courtney Lawes, Henry Slade, Elliot Daly, and Luke Cowan-Dickie. I predict that England will continue to advance.