August 18, 2019 / 11:52 AM / 4 months ago

Failure to test out combinations could cost England-Woodward

Rugby Union - England Rugby Press Conference - Pennyhill Park Hotel, Bagshot, Britain - January 29, 2002 England head coach Clive Woodward REUTERS/Action Images

(Reuters) - England’s failure to experiment with different combinations in their 13-6 World Cup warm-up defeat by Wales on Saturday could return to haunt them, former coach Clive Woodward has said.

Victory at Cardiff helped Wales top the world rankings and avenge their loss in the reverse fixture last Sunday as the Rugby World Cup looms.

“When the World Cup is done and dusted no one will remember or care about the result of these warm-up games,” Woodward, who led England to World Cup glory in 2003, wrote in a column for the Daily Mail.

“But (coach) Eddie Jones might remember his failure to try out some of his options and it could come back to haunt him.”

Woodward was disappointed with the decision not to deploy George Ford as a scrumhalf, having previously stated that the Leicester Tigers player would provide cover in the position at the World Cup in Japan.

“If Ford is going to have a stint at nine in Japan, play him at nine before we get there. If it costs you a warm-up game, it doesn’t matter. But it could come back to bite you further down the line if he has not had a run there,” Woodward added.

“He (Jones) and his group of players will be judged on the World Cup... they will definitely not be judged on these games, so that is why they should be used for experimenting with different combinations.

“England did not bother with that, which was puzzling.”

England next play home matches against Ireland and Italy before heading to Japan, where they begin their World Cup campaign against Tonga in Pool C on Sept. 22.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; editing by Amlan Chakraborty

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