George Ford has called on England to improve their discipline as they look to bounce back from defeat against Wales.
Eddie Jones’ side conceded 14 penalties in the Round 3 clash at Principality Stadium, bringing their total in this year’s Championship to 41 – the joint-highest tally alongside Italy and eight more than Triple Crown winners Wales.
Three costly breaches of discipline arrived in quick succession at a pivotal time in Cardiff after the visitors had drawn level at 24-24, with Callum Sheedy making England pay on each occasion to help Wales pull clear and consign the reigning champions to their second defeat in three matches.
How Callum Sheedy helped swing the game for Wales
With hopes of defending their crown all but over, Ford hopes England will learn from their mistakes as focus switches to their remaining two matches.
“The thing that let us down significantly was our discipline,” he said. “In Test matches, one penalty is enough to shift the momentum of the game, never mind a handful.
“It’s something we’re going to have to grab hold of as players. It’s not the first time it’s potentially cost us. We’re going to have to front that one up.”
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Much of England’s success in recent years has been built on solid defence and tight discipline, qualities which have come to the fore in the Guinness Six Nations as well as the 2019 World Cup.
The majority of the starting XV on Saturday also played in the famous World Cup semi-final win against New Zealand but Ford insists they must move on from reflecting on past glories if they are to progress.
“We’re a team where we are now,” he said. “We’re not a team where we were against New Zealand. We can’t keep looking back on that.”
England have the chance to respond to Saturday’s defeat when France visit Twickenham in Round 4 on March 13 before they round off their 2021 Championship in Dublin on Super Saturday.