England Must Make Twickenham A Fortress Once Again
After suffering a 29-23 defeat to Scotland in their 2023 Six Nations opener, Twickenham does not seem to be the fortress it once was for England.
Steve Borthwick has been charged with taking the national side forward into the World Cup later this year and making their London home a formidable place to play again has to be one of the new head coach’s priorities.
Scots Enjoy Another London Trip To Remember
Having waited since 1983 for a win at Twickenham, Scotland ended their miserable run at Rugby HQ in 2021 with an 11-6 victory over their oldest rivals. England, who are 14/1 in the Six Nations odds 2023 to win the tournament this season, have since decided to part company with head coach Eddie Jones, who had a disappointing record against the Scots. There was plenty of hope and excitement about Borthwick’s arrival as the new head coach, especially after he helped Leicester Tigers go from a struggling side to Premiership champions during his time at Welford Road. However, Gregor Townsend’s Scotland rocked down to London and pulled off another thrilling win to make it back-to-back victories at Twickenham.
There were some suggestions after the full-time whistle from certain quarters of the England fans that the home supporters were outsung by the visiting Scots. Twickenham at times in the past has been criticised for its atmosphere, especially if England have not lived up to expectations on the field. Getting behind the players when the side are behind is down to the fans but some supporters would suggest it’s up to the team to get the crowd going. There’s no doubt there were positives for England to take from the game and plenty of moments to get the crowd on their feet. Confidence does seem to be an issue for England in the transition into this new Borthwick era, or “rebuild” according to some outlets, and it’s down to the new coach to bring that feel-good factor back to the national side.
Time Yet To Make England Contenders
Looking at the squad, the players coming back from injury and the positive parts of the performance against Scotland, there should still be optimism about what England can achieve at the 2023 World Cup. Reaching the final of the last World Cup in Japan, before losing to South Africa in the showpiece event, England were looking to go that one step further under Jones in France this year. Two disappointing Six Nations in 2021 and 2022, followed by a poor Autumn Series last year ultimately cost Jones his position with England and the RFU looked to Borthwick to take over in December.
Losing to Scotland was of course a disappointing start and showed there is work to be done to make Twickenham a daunting place for opposition teams to play once again. However, with the likes of flanker Courtney Lawes and centre Henry Slade coming back from injury, better things should be around the corner for England. Building up confidence at home will be important for Borthwick going forward and can be a catalyst for potential World Cup success across the Channel later this year.