SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Borthwick's boys should follow lead of Lionesses

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Steve Borthwick’s boys should take a leaf out of the Lionesses’ book ahead of a World Cup that will have huge ramifications for rugby in England

  • Steve Borthwick’s side must follow the Lionesses and inspire the nation
  • The World Cup is destined to have huge ramifications for rugby in England 
  • WATCH: Wiegman CAN’T recall Lauren James , Mail Sport’s Chris Sutton says 

In years to come, few will remember Saturday’s World Cup warm-up match in Dublin.

But the truth is, this is a huge moment in England’s tournament preparations. I think this is a World Cup that will have huge ramifications for the game in England.

Look at what Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses are doing in Australia. By reaching a World Cup final on Sunday, and having a good chance of winning it, they have inspired the nation.

There is such a good feeling around the England women’s football team. From the outside looking in, they seem to be doing everything right. In Wiegman, they have a wonderful manager. On the field, there are superstars everywhere, even if some players are injured. The Lionesses have a relentless, attacking and gritty style of play. It’s what every England fan loves to see in their country’s sports teams.

They’re setting an incredibly high standard for our rugby sides to aspire to.

Steve Borthwick’s side need to find a way of getting the collective will of England behind them

They should learn from Sarina Wiegman’s Lionesses, who have united the country this summer

I want to say good luck to the Lionesses against Spain. They are the team everyone in English sport should look to and take a lead from. England cricket are not far behind either. Their men’s side didn’t win the Ashes this summer, but the way the team plays has got the entire country behind them.

I’m not saying Steve Borthwick’s side needs to play the rugby equivalent of Bazball. But what they do need to do is find a way of getting the collective will of the nation behind them.

English rugby – and the sport as a whole – has really got to up its game.

It has been a truly chaotic week with the Owen Farrell red card debacle dominating the headlines.

There is a good saying in sport that for a team to get it right on the field, you first have to get things right off it. Rugby’s administrative leaders are failing the game.

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We’ve seen that with Farrell. I was pleased to see Borthwick and Andy Farrell show their support for the player. 

I wrote that this whole debacle had got bigger than one individual. Too often in situations like this, it is the players who become the punch bag. They are the ones exposed and the powers that be allow it to happen.

As a dad myself, I think Andy Farrell had to say it wasn’t acceptable from a father’s and rugby coach’s point of view for his son to have been through what he has this week.

People want to see some emotion and it was fantastic for me to hear Andy be so outright. I certainly wouldn’t mess with the Farrell family! 

What has annoyed me about the Owen Farrell episode is that there has been no accountability or clear communication. The three Australian judges on the initial disciplinary panel were named, but no leading rugby figure has come out and explained what’s going on or admitted mistakes have been made.

Andy Farrell had to say what his son Owen has been through this week was unacceptable

Rugby has become a faceless sport. No-one puts their hand up to say they’re responsible. This is what I mean about rugby getting it right off the field first for it to improve on it. 

Rugby is a wonderful game, but in sport you must never assume. We can’t take it for granted that in England, we will always have people playing rugby and always have 80,000 watching games at Twickenham. That also applies to all the other leading nations.

England will not change the world with a win in Dublin, but it sure would be a good place to start. 

I want to see the sort of excitement the Lionesses play with from England in Dublin on Saturday. The score does not matter to me too much. It’s more about how England play. It’s been a dour week, dominated by Farrell, and we all need something to cheer about. 

I’m delighted Ireland have picked such a strong side because it means this game will truly show where England are. Borthwick’s men will have to get up to speed and quickly.

With Farrell’s new disciplinary hearing set for Tuesday, England have to assume he won’t be available for the start of the World Cup. That is why the Ireland game is so important because George Ford and Marcus Smith both need time at No 10. I want to see a new threat to the English attack.

England still have a strong side on paper, with Courtney Lawes acting as the stand-in captain

Borthwick’s side scored just one try in their two games with Wales and that came from a forward drive. To be honest, they didn’t really look like scoring behind the scrum. 

Even though Farrell has been rightly left out, England still have a strong side on paper. I like Courtney Lawes as captain in Farrell’s absence and Anthony Watson and Manu Tuilagi in the back-line. England will need to be at their best because Ireland are fully loaded.

They have a daunting team out and are missing only Johnny Sexton and Caelan Doris from their first-choice XV. England must embrace that challenge and see it as a chance to show their worth. 

On their last visit to Dublin, the team played well despite a controversial red card for Freddie Steward. Let’s hope we can see something similar again. 

Come on England – just like the Lionesses let’s get the country on its feet based on the excitement you bring to the game.

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