The legions of England rugby supporters who spent big money travelling to one of the more expensive capital cities on the planet, paying £6 for a beer as well as £70 apiece for the privilege of watching their side stumble past Italy at the speed of sludge, were not remotely persuaded by the more extravagant descriptions of the Red Rose performance – "fantastic", "sensational", "outstanding" – from the likes of Steve Borthwick, the captain. Nick Easter's words were a different matter entirely. "God, it was boring," said the Harlequins No 8 with characteristic candour.
Easter was particularly unimpressed by his countrymen's contribution to the deadly dull spells of aimless kicking that ensured a Six Nations descent from Super Saturday – two brilliant games featuring the other four sides in the tournament – to Soporific Sunday. "I know it's tough for people fielding long kicks in their own 22 and then having to decide whether or not to run it," he remarked, "but there was one stage when I covered about 10 metres in five minutes while watching the aerial ping-pong.
"There were mismatches available to us out wide and in midfield, but our execution wasn't good enough. We have to improve our basics. If it was progress result-wise, it wasn't progress performance-wise.
"We have to be more prepared to have a go, because this won't be sufficient against any of the three teams we still have to play. It's about risk versus reward. We've just seen the French take risks from their own 22 and we have players with the same kind of strengths."
Mathew Tait, who scored the only try of the contest, was nowhere near as fierce in his condemnation of England's latest flawed effort, but he admitted there was "a lot of stuff that will need working on", adding: "Part of it is about looking to attack a bit more and not kicking quite so much."Reuse content