Jamie George: ‘It was a really, really poor performance from us’

Jamie George [right] says England performed poorly against South Africa
©INPHO/James Crombie

Playing 40 minutes in England’s 27-13 loss to South Africa at Twickenham Stadium was hooker, Jamie George.

His first start for England this November, the 32-year-old was replaced by Luke Cowan-Dickie at the break as part of a wholesale front-row change by head coach Eddie Jones.

Hoping to gain some ascendency at the set piece after a rocky opening 40 minutes, the move was ultimately in vain as South Africa continued to have dominance at the scrum and dismantled the England pack at any given opportunity.

“It was very tough, it was a really, really poor performance from us really,” George said. “We weren’t in the game where we needed to be. It is disappointing because we felt we were taking steps in the right direction on the back of a poor performance last weekend.

“When you give away that many penalties at scrum time, it is going to be difficult to win a Test match.”

Coming into the fixture, the scrum was a hot topic. In the 2019 Rugby World Cup final between the same two sides, South Africa were truly dominant.

It is what led the Springboks to a third World Cup title, with Tendai Mtawarira giving Dan Cole some real issues when they packed down, the Englishman playing nearly 80 minutes as a result of an early head injury to Kyle Sinckler.

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In his post-match press, Eddie Jones spoke in detail about the set piece and said he had “grave concerns about how the scrum was refereed” on Saturday evening, a sentiment that George carried on a little later on.

“We actually looked okay at times, quite dominant at times, but we were too inconsistent and probably our management of the referee wasn’t good enough,” George said.

“We have got to go away and have a think about how we can get better, and we have got to do that before the Six Nations.”

But what were the issues that the team had with the officiating?

“All I will say is there was certainly a huge amount of frustration on the field regarding that, but ultimately we can’t sit here and blame the referee for absolutely everything,” George said.

“We were not as dominant as we wanted to be, so we need to go away and have a think about, maybe, look at what they are getting away with and we can do a little bit more of that too.”

At the conclusion of the year, England have played 12 games and won five. With just nine games to go until the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, how England look to improve upon these most recent efforts is unclear.

“When we get our attack flowing the way it has done in small parts of that game, I agree, last 15 minutes of New Zealand; the Japan performance was good,” George said.

“You look at the Japan game and they’ve caused other big teams big issues. The way we put our stamp on the game was big. That’s got to be our focus going forward.

“We spoke about having more courage in the week and I don’t think we necessarily have that, the reason I don’t know why. These are the sort of things we need to have conversations around. We need to go away and think about it and come back in with ideas.

“Eddie is always very open to those ideas. Ultimately, he just wants us to be a dominant team going forward. We have got great brains, good people in the right place. I know we’ll go away and come back with the right answers.”

Finishing third in the Six Nations at the start of the year, how England fare in next year’s tournament will not only go a long way show the character of the team, but also how much the team has learnt in a relatively short space of time.

With results expected following such a disappointing autumn, it is that mindset that George will be bringing back into camp with him in the new year.

“We need to go in there and start putting into place exactly the sort of team we want to be, the identity we want to have, because time is running out in that respect,” George said.

“We want to make sure that we generate a bit of momentum and we do that through performances. We do that through results. And the time is now.”