Woodward: England need better backs

Clive Woodward has slammed the RFU for their handling of Stuart Lancaster

Former England Rugby coach Clive Woodward has said that England are suffering from the absence of “real footballers” in the backline after their 28-31 loss to South Africa.

Woodward led England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003 watched Stuart Lancater’s England team match South Africa in the forwards but were let down in the backs.

Springbok centre Jan Serfontein scored South Africa’s opening try by intercepting a pass from Danny Care and scrum-half Cobus Reinach scored their second at the start of the second half after fly-half Pat Lambie’s chip ahead was regathered, at speed, by fullback Willie le Roux.

The loss for England was their second three-point loss in as many weeks following the 24-21 defeat by world champions New Zealand and their fifth in a row – albeit four were against the All Blacks – with this run their worst since they suffered seven straight reverses in 2006.

“The forward pack is doing really well,” said Woodward.

“The front five, the scrums, the line-out, all the traditional strengths of English rugby are going well.

“It’s outside of that I just don’t think we are quick enough and we’re certainly not playing enough real footballers in the backs division to take on Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – which has to be the goal,” added Woodward, who in his playing days starred as a free-running centre in England’s 1980 Grand Slam-winning side.

England scrum-half Danny Care won his 50th cap on Saturday but it was his slow pass that led to Serfontein’s try.

“I know people will write us off now but I know the self-belief there is in this side,” Care said.

“We gave them a 10-point start and against the best teams in the world you suffer.

“We were a bit loose in the first half, coughed up the ball too much and gifted them seven points which was obviously my bag (fault).”

South Africa captain Jean de Villiers was delighted by the way his side bounced back from their surprise 29-15 defeat by Ireland in Dublin last week.

“We probably got points on the board at the right times, we left a lot out there, but we could have conceded a couple more,” he said.

England saw prop David Wilson and replacement No 8 Ben Morgan drive over for tries during a 10-minute spell in the second half when South Africa were a man down after lock Victor Matfield was sin-binned.

But with the game level at 20-20, and Matfield still off the field, the Springboks hit back with a try from flanker Schalk Burger.

By the time England’s South Africa-born centre Brad Barritt narrowed the gap with a late try it wasn’t enough to turn the tide.

“The South Africans benefited from our errors rather than constructing too much themselves,” said Lancaster.

“That’s what we need to improve on. We need to be smarter if we’re going to beat the top sides in the world as has been shown in the last two games.”

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