England heading in right direction overall under Steve Borthwick – Jamie George

By Sports Desk February 25, 2024

Jamie George conceded England were “not good enough” in their Calcutta Cup defeat to Scotland but the captain remained adamant they were heading in the right direction overall under Steve Borthwick.

The Red Rose lost 30-21 at Murrayfield on Saturday, bringing to an end their unbeaten start to this year’s Guinness Six Nations campaign after narrow wins away to Italy and at home to Wales.

England had arrived in Edinburgh having won eight of their previous nine matches, with their only setback in that run being the agonising World Cup semi-final defeat by eventual winners South Africa in October.

George understood the negative reaction to losing the Calcutta Cup match for a fourth year in succession – the first time that had happened since 1896. However, the 33-year-old rejected the suggestion that talk of English progress since last summer had been overblown.

“If you look at our run of form over the last nine/10 games, we’ve won a lot of them,” George pointed out.

“If you look at the more global picture of where we are as a team and how we are progressing as a team, if you take a step back and look at it as a whole, there are a lot of positive signs.

“Do we need to get better? Absolutely. Are we doing everything we can to do that? Yes.”

George felt England gave a snapshot of their potential in the opening quarter at Murrayfield, when George Furbank’s try helped them open up a 10-0 lead and knock the Scots out of their stride.

However, he knows they fell out of the game all too easily thereafter as Duhan Van Der Merwe scored a hat-trick to turn the game heavily in the hosts’ favour before a 67th minute score from England substitute Immanuel Feyi-Waboso reduced the deficit to nine points.

“The foundations are good but as players we need to execute the gameplan better,” said George. “We knew it would be difficult coming up here, with the history that goes into the game, but we weren’t good enough.

“One thing that hopefully the fans saw in the first 20 minutes of the game is a blueprint for how we want to play as a team. Now it’s about our ability to do it for 80 minutes.

“There will be things that we look back on and go, ‘that’s what English rugby needs to be about, that’s what this team needs to be about going forward’.

“I think we saw a lot of that in the first 20 minutes but I didn’t see it in the second 20 and the contrast will be pretty clear when we look back at it.

“It’s a huge learning for us. We’re a young team excited to learn and we need to learn fast going ahead to the Ireland game.”

George courageously led England into the Murrayfield showdown just over a week after losing his mother Jane following a short battle with lung cancer.

Asked if it was important for him to get a couple of days off to take stock before returning to camp to prepare for the home match against Ireland a week on Saturday, the hooker said: “Yes, I guess so.

“We’re assembling again on Wednesday. It’s important for everyone to get some time off in these breaks. Test rugby can be pretty cruel at times and we saw that today.

“I think it’s important for everyone to spend some time with their families.”

Despite Saturday’s setback, George was already looking forward to hosting Grand Slam-chasing Ireland.

“The fact we are back at Twickenham is very exciting to me,” he said. “We’ve spoken a lot about the record we want to create at Twickenham and how hard a place it needs to be for opposition to come to.

“That’s very much going to be our focus. Ireland are a great team, we know that, but we’re going to be a very tough team to beat at Twickenham.”

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