Rugby Union: Uttley has to admit gulf in standards admitted by Uttley

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The Independent Online
ENGLISH RUGBY union's inadequacies have been horribly exposed by their southern hemisphere tour admitted Roger Uttley, the England manager, yesterday.

England conceded a fourth half-century of points in five matches with the 62-14 hammering by a fired-up New Zealand Maoris side at Rotorua yesterday. In total, they have leaked 270 points and 38 tries, confirming a massive gulf in standards.

"We've got to ensure that the lessons we've learnt out here are taken on board," Uttley said. "They have got to be addressed because, unless we do, then England will flounder."

The captain, Tony Diprose, had no excuses for the nine-try demolition, citing a damning missed tackles count - the Maoris' four to England's 24.

"It is very disappointing for all the players. We didn't see the ball for 20 minutes, and our first-up tackling let us down," Diprose said.

"We need to go up two or three notches building towards next year's World Cup. If you miss the tackles, then you cannot expect to win at this level."

Brian Ashton, who supervised England for today's game with the the side's coach, Clive Woodward, having returned home following his father's death, added: "You are talking about far greater strength and power between southern and northern hemispheres - there are some startling differences.

"The guys down here have a different concept of how to play the game. They use far more width, and it becomes a different ball game. If you miss tackles, then you are punished."

Few England players did their hopes of a Test call-up against New Zealand on Saturday any good. The possible exceptions were a committed Diprose, the try-scoring wing Spencer Brown and Sale's Jos Baxendell, who showed his footballing skills at centre and then at stand-off when he replaced Alex King.

The England flanker Richard Pool-Jones went to hospital for an X-ray examination on an injured ankle, and his chances of taking any further part in the tour do not look encouraging.

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