Wilkinson shares the blame

Jonny Wilkinson insists England’s players – and not head coach Brian Ashton – should shoulder responsibility for the limp Six Nations victory over Italy.

The record-breaking fly-half kicked another 15 points on Saturday to become the leading scorer in championship history as the world champions struggled to a 20-7 win at Twickenham.

Ashton claimed he should take the blame for the performance after getting “the balance of the game wrong”, but World Cup-winning hero Wilkinson said it was the players who need to shoulder the blame.

“After the game, Brian Ashton , spoke to the press and took all the blame for our tactics on his own shoulders,” said Wilkinson.

“It is great that he is prepared to put his own head on the block and take responsibility. That is one of the reasons why players enjoy playing for him.

“However, the team’s fortunes don’t begin and end with the tactical direction he gives us before the game.

“There are leaders on the pitch, of whom I am one, and we must have the ability to assess and reassess our approach and our tactics as the game goes on.

“That is what we did not do particularly well on Saturday and, as far as accountability goes, I would put my name high up on that list, not Brian’s.

Wilkinson added in his column in The Times:

“I could have set the game going in a different way, which maybe would have opened other doors farther on.

“I would have liked to have used a few more options and given the boys a bit more space. That doesn’t just mean playing it wide – that’s oversimplifying it – but I do think I got the balance slightly wrong at the start.

“But this is all good material for us to learn from. I know I personally have come away from Twickenham having learnt quite a lot.”

365 Digital

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