Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Cohen tells England to learn from pain

England suffered a one-sided defeat in the crunch Six Nations match against Wales

Ben Cohen has told England that experiencing and understanding the pain of Saturday's Grand Slam failure will only improve their chances of winning the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Cohen was part of the England set-up under Sir Clive Woodward that saw their Grand Slam ambitions crushed at the final hurdle in both 2000 and 2001. But that England side grew from those setbacks and in 2003 they completed a Six Nations clean sweep before going on to win the World Cup.

Cohen drew a number of parallels between his own experiences at Murrayfield in 2000 and England's record thumping by Wales at the Millennium Stadium. "I look back to 2000 when we went for the Grand Slam in Scotland and we got completely out-passioned on the day. That happened to England on Saturday," Cohen told TalkSport.

"They have come a long way in the last 12 months and had some fantastic wins but you can't gain the whole experience and be a rounded player without losing big games.

"I think in some respects they need to lose some games and understand the hurt of losing, so when they come to the World Cup and they are at Twickenham under huge pressure they can go out and win.

"There will be a lot of pressure on England at the next World Cup and this is character-building for them."

That was the message England head coach Stuart Lancaster tried to instil in his players in the immediate aftermath of the defeat - that by learning the lessons they will come back stronger.

Lancaster vowed he would learn too and the summer tour of Argentina, which runs in parallel to the British and Irish Lions tour, will be used to run the rule over potential new players.

Cohen has been disappointed by England's lack of penetration in attack. They only scored five tries in the tournament and four of them were against Scotland on the opening weekend.

"This is constructive criticism but England don't have an attack that could outplay an opposition and sometimes I think they are one-dimensional and I don't think they have a counter-attack," Cohen said.

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