England must learn from “little moments of madness” which has seen the 2018 campaign turn into a “horror show”, according to World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward.
Eddie Jones’s squad suffered a fourth successive Test defeat when beaten 42-39 by South Africa at Ellis Park, where England had raced into an early 21-point lead.
Woodward, whose team delivered 2003 World Cup success over hosts Australia, feels England showed their potential with some “fantastic” rugby before the Springboks’ remarkable fightback – and small errors of judgement are having a big impact on the final outcome.
“If England look (back) through the game, there were just some really big moments where a bit more composure and a bit more leadership from all the players to make responsible decisions (was needed),” said Woodward in a BBC radio interview.
“This year has been a bit of a horror show for England. If England had won the last three or four games, had a great Six Nations and then played (like that) in this game, we would all be going ‘wow what an amazing game of rugby and England are right on the right track’ – but it is not just this one game where they have conceded tries.
“Something is not right because England are normally a very good defensive team, and have an excellent defensive coach.
I just think the bubble has burst. Teams are looking at England and thinking the way to beat this team is not to play a slow game, but play an all out fast game.Clive Woodward
“I just think the bubble has burst. Teams are looking at England and thinking the way to beat this team is not to play a slow game, but play an all out fast game.”
Woodward feels England have not been developing “at the same rate” as other Northern Hemisphere teams.
“The number of tries conceded is just too many,” he added.
Indiscipline also cost England, with Mako Vunipola given a yellow card after he followed through on South Africa scrum-half Faf De Klerk.
Wooward believes that is a key area where the players can take responsibility on the pitch.
“The penalty count must be in single figures if you are going to beat the top teams in the world,” he said. “England will be a worried camp, there is no question about that.”