The fallout from England’s victory against Italy at Twickenham last weekend continues.
Although Eddie Jones’ side claimed the victory that keeps their grand slam bid on track, Italy’s “no ruck“ tactics left Jones and England decidedly furious, demanding law changes and taking constant swipes at the Azzurri and coach Conor O’Shea ever since.
However, England captain Dylan Hartley has broken from that and claimed responsibility for the side’s struggle to deal with O’Shea’s tactics, conceding that it took the home team far too long to adjust to what was going on around them. That said, he has insisted that neither he nor England will be caught on the back foot like that again.
“We took too long, and that is my fault, It won’t happen again. Hindsight is a bitch, but if I could go back I would have seen what was happening earlier and dealt with it earlier. We have now looked at scenarios where if it happens again, we can react more quickly.
“I was trying to figure out what was happening. I was confused. Sometimes I saw one or two blue shirts and thought it was a ruck but it wasn’t until I saw [Italy scrum-half] Edoardo Gori standing in our passing channel that I got confused as to what was going on. I questioned the referee but he wasn’t going to change his mind. I couldn’t change his mind so I just rolled with it.
“That scenario is now covered. We have learnt from it. And if it happens again we will be tooled-up to deal with it.”
The Northampton Saints hooker has promised to brush up on the laws of the game to ensure that England won’t be caught on the hop if any other side attempts to adopt a similar approach against them:
“For me is it is a good lesson to brush up on the laws and know my stuff.
“I was in just about every breakdown, in the thick of it and pretty well equipped to see. We have seen it before but not all game, not continuously. But that is the learning, isn’t it? I have already done so. I don’t actually possess a [law] book. Maybe I should get one. I looked in my room and there’s a Bible next to the bed. I should probably replace that.
I think we all know that particular law now. We are all pretty clear on that. We are not [embarrassed] by it, just surprised. We have moved on.”
With the Italy experience now behind them, England now begin their preparation for the Calcutta Cup, and Triple Crown decider, against Scotland at Twickenham on March 11th.
On this week’s Oval Office podcast, we chat to Ian McKinley, Jacques Burger, and Daniel Killick of The Attacking Scrum.