Richard Wigglesworth: 'Calling things out' not the answer as England look to eradicate basic errors

Injuries have hampered the progression of England's attack but Wigglesworth isn't using that as an excuse

A week to digest and reflect.

The post-mortem is still ongoing following England’s loss in the Six Nations to Scotland, with attack coach Richard Wigglesworth admitting his own ‘review’ into the performance was taking place on Thursday evening.

After last Saturday’s 30-21 loss at Murrayfield, head coach Steve Borthwick promised to hold an “unbelievably honest” review into an underwhelming afternoon where England made 25 handling errors.

But despite failing their first real test of ‘a new era’, this isn’t the time for smashing teacups or as Wigglesworth puts it, 'banging a TV to call things out.’

"My review is tonight,” Wigglesworth said, ahead of an open training session on Friday at the York Community Stadium - one of the venues for the Women’s World Cup in 2025.

"It’s not so much about going away from plans but we didn’t really play as us. We didn’t play how we set out to and how we’d been building to, so that was the disappointment for everyone.

"If it needed to, anyone who knows me will know I can be pretty straight and to the point. But I think you have a very limited lifespan if you are going to stand and bang a TV and call things out because there will be reasons, mine as much as any player's.

"If I start shouting and having a go at them, that's right back at me. We'll be in this again and make sure we're better. We looked slightly tense and maybe we got more tense as things went on. We will take those learnings and make sure we make errors trying to attack like England do. Then we will be better."

With Ireland heading to Twickenham in nine days time, the next task for England is a daunting one but with injuries to key personnel before and during the Six Nations, it has made the job of moulding and shaping a smooth attack tricky for Wigglesworth.

"We have talked every week how important cohesion is to attack,” he said. “Every team gets injuries so there are tweaks and you put selection in there as well, it is difficult. It is how you can speed up that cohesion and that is hard when you are making changes here and there, particularly in positions where it is really important. That is not an excuse.”

And the heart of the disruption has arguably been in the half-back positions.

With Alex Mitchell (knee) missing out against Scotland and Marcus Smith (calf) yet to play a minute of the Six Nations, England are ‘hopeful’ that the duo will be in contention to feature against Grand-Slam chasing Ireland on March 9.

"We’re hopeful, but we’ve not done anything yet in terms of seeing if they could get involved in a Test match," explained Wigglesworth. "We’ll see how they go today and then tomorrow will be a big day for them. Then we’ll see how they go at the start of next week but we’re hopeful."

In Smith’s absence, Sale’s George Ford has started all three Six Nations games but Wigglesworth didn’t shy away from it being a three-way battle for the No.10 shirt, with Fin Smith [Northampton Saints] very much in the conversation having come off the bench for the last quarter against Scotland.

"It was great to get Fin on because as we know, he has played so well for Northampton this year but he has also trained really well,” said Wigglesworth.

"He is incredibly astute for a young man. Opinionated in a really good way. He thinks about the game like a proper fly-half.

"They [Fin Smith, Marcus Smith and Ford], are obviously all at different stages with Marcus coming back and George having played. 

"We know that we have got good players, albeit different players, in that fly-half spot."

Wigglesworth’s praise for the ‘young guns’ filtered into winger Immanuel Feyi-Waboso, whose cameo and try at Murrayfield on just his second cap was one of England’s biggest plus points.

The Exeter flyer has been absent from England camp this week due to a university medical exam he needed to sit in person but the impact the 21-year-old has had in a short space of time isn’t lost on Wigglesworth.

"He loves to study," added Wigglesworth. “He likes that part of it and part of that is the rugby and picking up things quickly because he likes to learn new things and wants to improve on what he is doing.

"That is obviously one of his drivers. For us, that is great because we know he has got the capacity and the willingness to do those things so if he misses something the next couple of days, he will actively make sure he is fully up to speed."

On Feyi-Waboso's on-the-pitch talent, Wigglesworth continued: "He’s always going to do things that no coach can teach, and that’s what we want. We want players to put their talents out on the field, and he’s got incredible athletic talents, as have others. Go out, put that out there, and if you’ve got that talent, then there’s no holding back."

Whether England are brave enough to roll the dice and hand the likes of Feyi-Waboso a start against Ireland is yet to be seen, but Wigglesworth didn't rule out the possibility of giving youth a chance on the biggest stage.

"If a player’s ready then he’s ready for us, not he can’t play against X, Y or Z. With the development of young players, you can’t chuck them all in at once and see who rises and who sinks.

"We want to develop them and part of that development is trying to pick them at the right time, give them the minutes, some guys are ready to be thrown in, some guys you drip-feed in, that’s Steve’s decision on that. I’d be confident in our lads. If we think they’re best to start, they’re ready to go."