Rugby Union: `Shattered' Woodward is now left to pick up all the pieces

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The Independent Online
THE CATALOGUE of errors ran into a second volume. The mistakes were legion from start to finish. The public address announcer could not even get the scoreline correct at the very end.

The mistakes came from all sides, England, Wales and possibly even the South African referee, Andre Watson. Clive Woodward certainly questioned the penalty which led indirectly to Scott Gibbs wonderful, surging swerving run deep into injury time.

Tim Rodber was adjudged to have used his shoulder on Wales' flanker Colin Charvis, instead of wrapping him up in a legitimate tackle. Rodber was shown a yellow card and England's chief tormentor Neil Jenkins thumped the ball upfield; the rest goes into Five Nations history. Woodward said: "I thought it was a pretty harsh penalty on Rodber. The referee was there but the touch judge made the decision. That was my only real disappointment."

Woodward admitted he was "shattered" by the defeat and added: "I never thought we would lose. I still can't believe we have. We should have beaten them but we didn't."

That statement appeared to back up what Wales' coach Graham Henry had felt about the build-up. "I don't think they showed us respect as a team," said the New Zealander, "but I think they will respect us now."

Woodward countered: "I am disappointed if Graham said that. This job is hard enough without coaches having a go at each other. We showed them a hell of a lot of respect. We prepared really well for this game I don't see how we could have paid them any more respect."

The respective sides both admitted that the error count was unacceptably high, something they will have to amend before the World Cup.

The turnovers were legion, and so were poor decisions. Too often English ball carriers ignored their support; too often Wales presented the opposition with the ball in the tackle; too frequently England strayed offside; Wales reinvented recycling as a slow-motion exercise.

Indiscipline also played a big part in England's downfall, witness Neil Back's petulance at a penalty which brought Jenkins 10 metres closer to his target and he doesn't miss that often. He did not miss then, or on five other occasions when England transgressed.

And when Wales conceded one in the 77th minute and Dallaglio allowed Jonny Wilkinson to kick for touch, three valuable points went begging and, as things turned out, England did not have a big enough lead to play that sort of game.

But Dallaglio said later: "I don't regret that. We created plenty of other chances, but we didn't take them. We thought that once we got third phase and beyond that there were enough holes in Wales defence for us to exploit. But we didn't hold on to the ball."

The happiest man last night had to be Scotland captain Gary Armstrong. Victory handed Scotland the championship and he summed up the afternoon's events saying: "I'd kind of given up by half-time because I thought England were going to walk it." So did they, and they paid the price.