'We're clear that can never happen again'– Jamie George on England’s demolition by France
Jamie George has warned that England's humiliating drubbing by France must “never happen again” as Steve Borthwick's side prepare to take on a fired-up Ireland on Saturday.
Having been so comprehensively taken apart 53-10 by the second-best team in the world at Twickenham, England now take on the No 1 side in Dublin to conclude their Six Nations campaign.
With the hosts chasing a Grand Slam, the primary aim for Borthwick's men will be to restore battered pride.
We’re a team that prides ourselves on physicality and that’s probably why it [the France defeat] hurt as much as it did," said George. "We just didn’t give a good account of ourselves, we really didn’t. We’re very clear about why and we’re also very clear that it can never happen again."
George revealed that he needed a full day to absorb how France had demolished England before Borthwick laid out the scale of the task ahead against Ireland.
“It took me 24 hours,” George said. “The difficult thing on Saturday night was that I couldn’t work out what was going on on the field. I like to think of myself as someone who has a relatively good rugby brain, knows what’s going on, and I couldn’t put my finger on it.
“People talk about this dismantling of the forward pack and that didn’t necessarily happen at the set piece, it probably did in the collision areas. We came together on Sunday evening and had a meeting, Steve actually highlighted that we probably didn’t know where it went wrong and how it got so bad.
“Then he went: ‘this is exactly what happened, this is the plan, this is the mind-set you need to have to make sure that it never happens again’. Probably there was still a bit of hangover on the Monday morning, but when we started looking ahead to Ireland those things quickly moved past.”
George has fond memories of the Aviva Stadium from England’s 32-20 victory in 2019, as well as from wins for Saracens over Munster and Leinster in the knockout stages of the Champions Cup.
Ireland, however, are overwhelming favourites to condemn England to a third defeat of the Championship for what would be a third consecutive Six Nations. Andy Farrell’s men have scored 16 tries and only conceded five across their four matches to date in 2023.
George explained that Borthwick has implored his players to be “the fastest-learning team” in a bid to catch up with Ireland and France. Clarity, said the 32-year-old, will be paramount if England are to repair their reputation and cause an almighty upset.
“Just be clear on the plan,” added George, when asked how the visitors could stall a St Patrick’s weekend procession. “Like I say, everything over the last however many weeks with Steve being involved with the team has been about focusing on us, rebuilding us.
'We have an opportunity against Ireland to show fans that we can turn teams over'
“What Saturday showed us is that there’s a big gap between the top teams in the world and where we are at the minute but at the same time, it's allowed us to learn and go, 'Right, this is where we need to be and this is what we need to do in order to get there'.
“For a few of us that have been involved in this squad, we've been in those sorts of teams that have been number one or number two in the world and that for us has got to be the focus point. We’ve got to make sure we get back to that and like I say, we've been rebuilding over the last seven weeks. We've still got a way to go but at the same time, we've got to be very clear about how we can beat Ireland at the weekend.
“For me, there's no better next game off the back of that sort of result against France because Ireland are the best team in the world at the minute, they're going for a Grand Slam, and it’s a huge opportunity for us to show people, to show all the England fans at home that we can certainly turn teams like that over.”