Jonny May insists England “owe the country” when they face Ireland having ceded the NatWest 6 Nations title to their rivals.
A 22-16 defeat by France in Paris has seen Joe Schmidt’s men seize the crown from Twickenham with a round to spare and on Saturday they are playing for a precious Grand Slam.
The Rugby Football Union are charging up to €180 for a ticket for the climax to England’s Six Nations and May, who scored his side’s only try on Saturday, believes the team let fans down through successive defeats.
“We do owe the country. People support us and we have an opportunity when we wear that shirt to inspire them and it hasn’t been good enough in the last couple of weeks,” the Leicester wing said.
May rejected suggestions England are over-trained, using England’s strong finish in Paris as evidence.
“I don’t think you can question the regime we have because we have been so successful with it. That is part of our DNA,” May said. “We train very hard and it pays off. At the end if the game, I felt there was only one team looking to get the next score.”
Head coach Eddie Jones concedes breakdown deficiencies exposed during the demise of England’s Six Nations title defence could persist until the World Cup.
The damning post-match statistics from the Stade de France revealed 11 turnovers and 16 penalties conceded and for a second successive match the fallen champions have been demolished at the breakdown.
Jones insists it could take another 18 months before his players learn to adjust to the difference in emphasis between international rugby and the Aviva Premiership, in which fewer numbers are committed to the ruck.
“It’s not a clubs problem, it’s our problem. We’ve got to fix it because that’s the sort of rugby we’re playing. I can’t blame the Premiership,” Jones said.
“We can’t expect club teams to play international rugby, just as we can’t expect to play club rugby.
Defeat by Ireland will condemn England to their worst Six Nations performance since 2006 — the last time they lost three matches — and a possible fifth-placed finish. Jones is keeping perspective.
“We’ve lost two games. One by a hair’s breadth against France and in the other one we were outplayed. So I don’t see any cycle,” Jones said.
“We’re being exposed in certain areas at the moment. And it’s better happening now because it gives us a chance to fix it. We’re finding out all the issues that we need to fix before the World Cup.”
Tries: Bastareaud. Pens: Machenaud 4, Beauxis.
Bonneval, Fall, Bastareaud, Doumayrou, Grosso, Trinh-Duc, Machenaud, Poirot, Guirado, Slimani, Gabrillagues, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Camara, Tauleigne.
Fickou for Bonneval (41), Beauxis for Trinh-Duc (71), Couilloud for Machenaud (71), Pelissie for Guirado (66), Gomes Sa for Slimani (59).
Tries: May. Cons: Farrell. Pens: Farrell 2, Daly.
Watson, May, Te’o, Farrell, Daly, Ford, Care, Vunipola, George, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Huges.
Brown for Watson (68), Joseph for Ford (60), Wigglesworth for Care (68), Marler for Vunipola (64), Cowan-Dickie for George (64), Sinckler for Cole (58), Haskell for Launchbury (52), Simmonds for Huges (24).
Jaco Peyper (South Africa).
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved