You can study all the DVDs, analyse all the printouts and take in all the statistics, but nothing in rugby teaches you like being on the receiving end. And, boy, were England on the receiving end in Cardiff.
I have been there as a player and it hurts horribly, but it makes you take a long, hard look at yourself and ask, ‘How can I be better?’
If anyone in the England team was getting above themselves – and I don’t think they were – they will not be feeling like that after the defeat by Wales.
I was there at the Millennium Stadium, doing some work for tournament sponsors RBS, and the intensity was just incredible.
I thought before the game that either England would take it to the wire or they would get battered. They got battered.
England did well to hold Wales in the first half – they could have been a lot further behind by half-time – but the workload it required told. They just have to take their hats off to an outstanding Wales performance.
England did not help themselves with the number of times they sent isolated runners at Wales’ defence and they were overpowered in the end.
The scrum was a case in point. There had been warning signs against Ireland and Italy in this area but against Wales, England were comprehensively outplayed.
Dan Cole has been the cornerstone of this developing side but Gethin Jenkins did a great job on him . Gethin got so close to Dan at every scrum that Dan couldn’t use his brute strength. His head was pretty much touching Dan’s shoulder at the hit.
On the other side, Alex Corbisiero was really missed against Adam Jones. The inexperience of Joe Marler and Mako Vunipola showed but, again, they will have learnt so much.
There may be a negative reaction to the scale of the defeat but the side have good people in charge to make sure they emerge stronger for it.
Stuart Lancaster is a man of integrity and his coaches Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Mike Catt are proud men who will work their backsides off for those players.
Don’t forget the mess England were in 18 months ago. The rugby public had lost faith in the team but that should not be the case now. Regardless of this defeat , I’m proud to be an England fan .
I have really enjoyed this Championship. Sure, there have been some games spoiled by the weather but the tournament has lived up to its name.
In past seasons it has been more of a four nations Championship, but with promise from Scotland and Italy’s two victories it was competitive all round – a proper Six Nations.