Jamie George has apologised for England’s dismal record defeat by France on Saturday and pleaded with supporters to keep faith in Steve Borthwick’s rebuild. England were booed off the pitch following their biggest loss at Twickenham, with George admitting he could relate to fans who left early in their droves.
England now face the daunting task of travelling to Dublin to face Ireland, who are chasing the grand slam, on Saturday amid fears of another thrashing. Borthwick, who lamented England’s lack of power against the physically dominant French, is set to announce on Monday his squad to prepare to face Ireland – with the Sale director of rugby, Alex Sanderson, confirming George Ford is due to be included.
The nature of the defeat – the third‑biggest England have endured – laid bare just how far Borthwick’s side are off the leading contenders for the World Cup this year. The boos that greeted the full-time whistle were reminiscent of those that followed Eddie Jones’s last match in charge in November with England now heading into the final weekend of the Six Nations out of the title race for the third year in a row.
“I want to apologise [to the supporters] because I’m one of them really,” George said. “I would be gutted if I’d turned up to Twickenham and seen an England team play like that. We are sorry and we need to make sure that we get better and learn from this experience, because it’s clear we have a long way to go.
“It’s tough to take that, because I can relate to that. I’m a fan myself and to hear that is really tough.
“We haven’t been good enough for the England fans for a little while now and I can relate to what they’re feeling, but what I’d like to say to them is please stick with us because we’re going to fight and we’re going to scrap to make sure we’re a significantly better team going forward. Hopefully we don’t disappoint them like that again.
“It’s going to be a tough watch back but we need to turn it around because we’ve got another big Test on Saturday and we can’t do that to England fans again. We’ve got to make sure we’re a lot better come Saturday.
“There’s no better place to go after a performance like that. Everyone will write us off already and what we’ve got to do is make sure we have the best week of this eight-week campaign, in terms of how quickly we’re going to learn and getting a plan together to really put Ireland under pressure and come away with a win.”
The defeat by France was England’s last competitive home match before the World Cup campaign begins, with the trip to Dublin on Saturday followed by four warm-up matches over the summer. Asked if England supporters should forget about the team’s World Cup chances, Borthwick said: “I’ll be very up front again and say that we’ve got work to do, and we know that.
“We knew we were going to find out today against the number two side in the world and find out where we were. We have come a long way short, and the job is to close it as quick as we can, close that gap as quick as we can.
“We’ll learn a lot about ourselves and we’ll go away from this, thoroughly [analyse] the game and the instances. For many players, it’ll be a great learning experience for us.
“But I say that in the sense that we didn’t want this. But we have to make sure we maximise what we can from it. I’ll make this clear, we fell a long, long way short of where we want to be.
“Coming into this role I knew this was going to be a big challenge. I’ve been very clear there’s a gap and the job is try to close the gap as quickly as we can and I think you see how big the difference is.”