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Sir Clive Woodward: Chris Robshaw not to blame for late decision in Wales defeat

Published 28/09/2015

England suffered a narrow World Cup defeat to Wales
England suffered a narrow World Cup defeat to Wales

England's World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward has criticised incumbent Stuart Lancaster for his substitutions in Saturday's defeat to Wales - and for the decision not to kick a late penalty to tie the game.

England lost 28-25 at Twickenham after turning down a shot at goal from the touchline with less than two minutes remaining, opting instead to go for a line-out and a chance to win the game.

Captain Chris Robshaw took responsibility for the decision afterwards and has been widely criticised but Woodward, who led England to the 2003 title in Australia, insisted the blame lies with the team management as a whole.

"England's decision to kick for the corner rather than ask (Owen) Farrell to shoot at goal to draw the match was the wrong call but it wasn't Chris Robshaw's fault," Woodward wrote in the Daily Mail.

"That one is down to the management. It should have been discussed and coached at the very start of Lancaster's regime.

"It is not possible, surely, that England have not sat down and asked themselves what the call is if they are faced with a very late penalty to draw as opposed to win. Ever since the draw was made in 2012 this was on the cards against Wales and Australia.

"For England to say it was the captain's call, and for Robshaw to accept the blame, is not right. It was a collective error that may haunt them for the rest of their lives."

Having led by 10 points earlier in the second half, though, the fact that England were in that position at all is a cause for concern and Woodward feels Lancaster got his changes wrong.

The introduction of George Ford for Sam Burgess, forcing Farrell to inside centre and Brad Barritt to an unaccustomed outside centre berth, was singled out for particular scrutiny.

Woodward wrote: "Our substitutions evened the odds. From looking secure most of the night, England were suddenly lost and Wales' decisive try was down to that. Farrell sprang out of the line and gave Wales a sniff and then Barritt couldn't resist and got left for dead.

"Why abandon a seemingly successful game plan? Yet again in the last 15-20 minutes, England didn't have the 15 players on the park you would want when the pressure is ramped up."

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