England fly-half George Ford admitted he was left embarrassed by the 63-45 defeat to the Barbarians that has inflicted a fourth successive loss on Eddie Jones’ men.
The Barbarians had completed only three training sessions as preparation for the non-cap international at Twickenham, head coach Pat Lam filming one of them for the benefit of those who had enthusiastically honoured the club’s social traditions.
Among the festivities organised to bond the players as quickly as possible was a 1970s fancy dress dinner that saw hat-trick hero Chris Ashton attend as a hippy, Finn Russell as Austin Powers and Justin Tipuric as the Cookie Monster.
“I said, ‘fellas that was a really good training session but I know that some of you probably don’t even remember it. But you can look at the pictures!’” Lam said.
“My analysis guy was key because I knew even though the players might be half cut in the morning they could still see the pictures.”
In contrast, England had been in camp for two weeks yet were still taken apart 9-6 on the try count as they collapsed to their heaviest ever defeat at Twickenham.
“We’re massively disappointed. No matter what game you’re playing in, when you put the England shirt on you expect to be better than that,” said Ford, who was co-captain alongside Chris Robshaw.
“We understand that the step up from club rugby to playing world-class international players is a big one and we learnt that lesson.”
When asked if the loss was embarrassing, Ford replied: “It is, yeah. It’s not great, is it? We didn’t start well and some of the tries seemed like easy, soft scores.
“I know there were some great scores from the Baa-Baas. But defensive is a mental thing, an effort thing, an attitude thing.
“You can have all the systems and structures in the world, but if you’re not quite there from a mental point of view and an attitude point of view you’re going to get hurt.”
Ashton plundered three tries in 25 minutes against the nation he has served across 39 caps – the second fastest hat-trick witnessed at Twickenham – but wanted more to remind England of his ruthless streak.
On two occasions he was chased down by Ford, who showed a surprising turn of speed to deny the Toulon wing as the line beckoned.
“I don’t think there was a point to prove. I knew there were great players here and Pat has done a great job with us all week in such a short space of time,” Ashton said.
“It was great opportunity for me and I wanted to carry on doing what I’ve been doing all year. I’d like to have scored a couple more but I’ll take three.”
On being caught by Ford, Ashton said: “That was probably the first three days of being with the Baa-Baas! George is quick, he did well.”