John Mitchell wants England to ‘continue to play on the edge’ despite red cards

By Sports Desk April 18, 2024

John Mitchell has instructed England to continue playing on the edge despite the disciplinary issues that have marred their Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

The Red Roses have been shown two red cards in three matches, with number eight Sarah Beckett dismissed in the opener against Italy and hooker Amy Cokayne sent off against Scotland.

Both opponents were crushed despite England being reduced to 14 players as they continue their march to a sixth successive Championship title with the visit of Ireland to Twickenham on Saturday.

While Mitchell wants technique to be refined where needed, he views his team’s physicality as an important weapon.

“I want us to continue to play on the edge, but I also want us to be aware around how we need to change our behaviour,” the Red Roses head coach said.

“In Amy’s incident, she needs to get her head under the ball. Obviously that’s something you put the ownership on the individual to change.

“We probably let the pressure off on Scotland. There were a number of times when we had the foot on their throats. We’d rather that turn into attack for us.

“There’s some good things we’ve learned from it, but we’re certainly not going to go away from being on the edge. It’s what drives us. It’s what the game’s all about and we want to defence into points.”

Beckett received a three-match ban for a dangerous clearout while Cokayne’s two yellow cards for a dangerous clearout and dangerous tackle resulted in a one-game suspension.

Both players will be available for the probable Grand Slam decider against France on Saturday week.

England had rehearsed for the eventuality of losing their number eight and hooker in the build up to each game after defence coach Sarah Hunter had presented them as scenarios in training.

“We’ve told Sarah Hunter not to give us any more scenarios!” captain Marlie Packer joked.

“So she might have said at the beginning of the Six Nations ‘eight go off the pitch’. That might have happened.

“And then last week ‘hooker you’ve got a card, go off’. And that might have happened in a game. So we’ve kind of told Sarah not to do that any more!”

Almost 50,000 are expected at Twickenham on Saturday and in anticipation of the atmosphere, England have adapted training at their Surrey base.

“Early on in the week, when we do more low-key training in the barn inside, we can put crowd noise in. I personally loved it,” he said.

“It paints a different picture for us. It’s been a new thing that we’ve brought in this week which has raised our game. Hopefully we can put it out on the pitch on Saturday.”

Packer has been restored at openside for the visit of Ireland, forcing Zoe Aldcroft to move from back row to lock, while Lark Atkin-Davies replaces the suspended Cokayne at hooker.

Related items

  • Afridi lauds 'world class' Babar and Rizwan as Pakistan win Ireland series Afridi lauds 'world class' Babar and Rizwan as Pakistan win Ireland series

    Shaheen Afridi lauded Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan as "world class" after the pair guided Pakistan to a T20I series victory over Ireland on Tuesday.

    Babar's side were defeated in the first meeting with Ireland last week but responded with two convincing chases to secure a 2-1 triumph.

    Ireland captain Lorcan Tucker's 73 helped his side to set a target of 179 in the winner-takes-all-decider, but Pakistan had little trouble in easing to a six-wicket victory with 18 balls to spare.

    Rizwan, who managed an unbeaten 75 in the second meeting, crafted a well-made 56, while Babar carried Pakistan to within touching distance after his 42-ball 75.

    Big-hitter Azam Khan blasted 18 off just six deliveries to see the visitors over the line, though Afridi was quick to credit the work of the two experienced Pakistan campaigners.

    "For us, before the World Cup, it's important to have these games to ready ourselves and there are a few areas to improve," said Afridi, who impressed with 3-14 in the first innings. 

    "They're both world-class players [Babar and Rizwan]; they know how to play their role and they have done really well on this pitch."

    Babar bludgeoned four of his five sixes off Ben White's bowling in the 14th over, while sharing 139 runs with the in-form Rizwan for the second wicket.

    "We had good communication in the middle because we have played a lot of cricket together; we were trying to play on our strengths and the aim was to match with the run rate," Babar added.

    "Lots of positives for us to take and we were able to execute our plans.

    "We have a big tournament coming up and this is good practice; we are now looking forward to the England series."

    Mark Adair was the only Ireland bowler to impress with his economical 3-28, though Tucker was still satisfied with his side's efforts.

    "It was brilliant and a great privilege to captain," Tucker said at the post-match presentation. "It would have been nice to start with a win.

    "We set up a platform nicely but unfortunately, we couldn't finish well. We gave everyone a go with the ball. Credit to the lads, they bowled well in tough conditions.

    "Maybe it was a bit disappointing with the result but we had positives from the series."

  • All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby All Blacks captain Cane to retire from international rugby

    New Zealand captain Sam Cane has announced he will retire from international rugby at the end of 2024, having agreed a three-year contract with Japan Rugby League One team Tokyo Sungoliath.

    Cane made his All Blacks debut in 2012 and has represented his country 95 times, including through the team's triumphant run at the 2015 World Cup.

    The flanker succeeded Kieran Read as captain in 2020, though his most recent international outing ended with him suffering the ignominy of becoming the first man to be sent off in a Rugby World Cup final, as New Zealand were beaten by South Africa last year.

    Cane will be eligible to represent the All Blacks through the second half of 2024 after returning from an initial spell in Japan but will then head there permanently after New Zealand Rugby agreed to release him from his contract. 

    "A good opportunity came my way with Sungoliath willing to offer me a three-year contract," Cane said. "I had to weigh up everything and, in the end, with a young family it seemed like the best decision to help set us up for our future.

    "I had my time as captain and it was a huge honour and privilege. If I'm fortunate enough to be selected for the All Blacks this year then I'll still be myself. 

    "I love that team, and if part of my role is contributing leadership-wise, I'll be happy to support the new captain as best I can to help with a speedy transition."

  • Babar relieved after Fakhar and Rizwan guide Pakistan past Ireland Babar relieved after Fakhar and Rizwan guide Pakistan past Ireland

    Babar Azam was left relieved after Pakistan made light work of chasing 194 to keep their T20I series with Ireland alive and take it to a winner-takes-all-decider.

    Andy Balbirnie's 77 helped Ireland to their first victory over Pakistan in this format on Friday, but Babar's side responded in style on Sunday with their own seven-wicket triumph.

    Lorcan Tucker's 51 powered Ireland to an impressive 193-7 in Dublin as Shaheen Shah Afridi registered figures of 3-49 and Abbas Afridi managed 2-33.

    Yet that total was far from imposing as Pakistan chased the target down with 19 balls to spare thanks to a remarkable partnership between Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman.

    The pair combined for a 140-run stand off only 78 balls for the third wicket as Fakhar smashed 78 from 40, while Rizwan was unbeaten on 75 after facing just 46.

    "I'm relieved, credit to all batters," Babar said after the win. "We lost a few wickets early on but we kept the momentum going.

    "Fakhar is very experienced and played according to situation which demanded positive intent. It's a good side, we got positives in this match and will look to give 100 per cent in the next match."

    Rizwan added: "They played really well against us. It was not an easy chase because the Ireland bowlers knew their conditions better.

    "They gave us a difficult time early on, but we decided that chasing 194, we have to attack. You're always under pressure when you lose especially with World Cup around the corner."

    The two sides will meet again in Dublin on Tuesday to settle the three-match T20I series.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.