Steve Borthwick sticks boot into England critics as ‘winning is all that matters’ at Rugby World Cup

Steve Borthwick sticks boot into England critics as ‘winning is all that matters’ at Rugby World Cup

England have vowed to stick to their kicking guns, despite fans booing the tactical approach in last night's 34-12 World Cup win over Japan.

Frustrated and impatient supporters vented their feelings with strong booing of England's regular penchant to put boot to ball in Nice, where the Red Rose men ran four tries past Japan.

England moved top of Pool D and put one foot in the quarter-finals thanks to tries from Lewis Ludlam, Courtney Lawes, Freddie Steward and Joe Marchant.

Steve Borthwick's men again struggled for fluency for much of the contest, only able to ease away in the closing stages.


England have been continually clear in their tactical kicking mission, insisting that all the top Test rugby teams launch the ball just as often.

But while fans eventually went away from the Allianz Riviera satisfied with the bonus-point win, they also made their feelings crystal-clear when it came to the kicking game.

Head coach Borthwick insisted, however, that finding any route to victory is all that matters for a team still in development.

"Ultimately, the important thing is the players find a way [to win]," said Borthwick. "In those conditions it was challenging for both teams; Japan kicked the ball 37 times.

"I'm not sure when you'd see a Japan team kick the ball 37 times, and that gives you a sign of the nature of it.

"Fiji beat Australia and only scored one try, and it was from a box kick.

That tells you a lot about where the challenge is.

"So, the players found a way to score four tries and then to build cohesion through the game. The last quarter was where we needed to accelerate and the boys did that."

Unseasonably humid temperatures across France have generated greasy balls in night matches, making the conditions almost akin to heavy rain. England insist this adds yet more weight to their kicking plan, because handling the ball remains treacherous at times.

Lock Maro Itoje is happy to win a match any which way. Asked if it matters how a team secures victory, he said: "For me it's by any means necessary — as long as we get the win.

"Every game's different. The task is to find ways to get on the positive side of the result."

Ludlam urged England's fans not to lose faith in a team battling for front-foot fluency. Asked for his message to the boo boys, Ludlam said: "Stick with us. We are a team learning every week and there are probably opportunities in there that we could have run the ball more.

"George Ford is very good at putting us in the right areas to attack further up the pitch. It is hard to get the fans excited about that, and we understand, but we're building.

"We needed to execute our set-piece better in the first-half and we needed greater ball security. There's a lot we can work on."