Lancaster laments England flop

Getty Images     18 Mar 2013     Getty Images

Wales stormed to a record 30-3 victory yesterday to retain the championship crown and inflict more last-day misery on England, who also lost Grand Slam deciders in 1990, 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2011.

Sir Clive Woodward was in charge for three of those campaigns before going on to win the Rugby World Cup in 2003 and he has urged England coach Lancaster to rethink his approach.

"International rugby is a brutal thing," Woodward told BBC Radio.

"To me, coaching England is (about) your next game. You are picking a team to win on Saturday.

"It is not about too much development. He has to take that on board now."

Lancaster conceded his side's lack of experience cost them against a Wales side who have now won four titles in nine years - but he maintained England are on the right path.

"It is difficult (to take it on the chin) but when I look back and try and put some perspective on it - the four wins and the New Zealand game and building as a team - there is still an upward curve," Lancaster said.

"We are still developing experience in a young team. What told (in the game) was a few things and one of them was experience. We will be better in the long run.

"The players are hugely disappointed. They feel they have let themselves down, that they have let the country down and it is a difficult place to be.

"I try and pull them back to the perspective that we had fewer than 300 caps going into a game of this magnitude and how much we have developed in the last 14 months.

"No team goes unbeaten in international sport. The difficult thing for us is we don't meet again until November. It is a long time to wait.

"I do believe the journey we are on and the plan we have is the right one. We had a lot of over 30-year-olds at the 2011 World Cup and we needed to develop new players.

"We have had more ups than downs. This is a down but we will hold our nerve and stick with the plan because I believe it will come good."

That is not to say Lancaster will simply plough on. The England coach will enter a period of self-reflection before he begins to build towards the summer tour of Argentina.

"We are all in it together. It is not just about the players. I need to look at what we did during the week and how we prepared for the game and everything else," Lancaster said.

"I will always look at myself first. It will be tough but I knew when I put my hand up for the job that there would be tough times along the way.

"I had some in South Africa (on the summer tour) and in the autumn internationals and you look inside yourself to see what you can do better."

Lancaster has always maintained that, while building a side for 2015, he does not have a "youth policy" because the players being picked are the best available.

Woodward backed Lancaster to learn all the right lessons from the Millennium Stadium setback, although they differ on the best way forward.

"I have been through it. I had a lot of success with England but we had some big setbacks," Woodward said.

"I am certainly (glass) half full when it comes to Stuart Lancaster. He has done a great job. He took over at a difficult time for English rugby and he has got us into a good position.

"It was a poor game, we got smashed by Wales, but he will learn from that. He knows he has the players and he has a long time to the World Cup still.

"He has a tough 12 months coming up and this was an eye opener. The rest of the world will look at that and say 'the bubble has been burst a little bit , we see who they are and what we have to do to beat them'.

"He has to look in the mirror and say 'what is the next stage?'.

"He has done a great job but he has to learn his lessons."

Woodward said Wales were "man for man" the better team and that England were "smashed" in the scrum.

"That Welsh pack was fantastic. There was a lot said about the back row - Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton - but it all started with the front five," Woodward said.

"International is rugby very simple - if you can't compete in the scrum you are always on back foot.

"That was the difference. They (England) will have learned a lot. You go in with a young team and you take a risk at international level. England were found out yesterday."