Rusty England would have settled for bonus-point win before kickoff - Woodward

·2-min read
England Rugby Press Conference
England Rugby Press Conference

(Reuters) - England's return to competitive action after seven months would have failed to thrill supporters despite the team's bonus-point victory over Italy on Saturday that helped them seal the Six Nations title, former coach Clive Woodward has said.

England won their third Six Nations crown in five years as they beat Italy 34-5 in Rome before watching France's 35-27 victory over Ireland, which put England out of reach of both teams.

"It wasn't pretty and probably didn't raise your pulse... back home, but after seven months without test rugby England will settle for a bonus-point win," Woodward wrote in his column for the Daily Mail.

"It's difficult to judge just how good the performance was but if you had given England that winning margin before kick off, they would have taken it.

"England were very scrappy in the first half - and that's being kind. Of course, they were a bit rusty, but they were dull mentally as well."

England, who were only beaten by France in the tournament, finished level with Ireland on 18 points but clear on points difference.

"A title is never a bad thing, although any team with England's resources and aspirations must see anything other than a grand slam as a failure," Stephen Jones wrote in The Times.

"England were massively disappointing in Rome. They were ragged, fitful, poor up front and erratic. Whatever plans they were working to, none was obvious.

"The honeyed acclamation of their coaches afterwards would have been appropriate if they had been playing New Zealand at their best. Against the inexperienced and outweighed Italians, some of it was inexcusable."

England face Georgia, Ireland and Wales in the Autumn Nations Cup later this month.

"It looks like the months ahead are going to be trying for many of us, so hopefully the team can produce some moments to cheer everybody up," Woodward added.

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)