Chris Hewett: England were wrong not to kick for the sticks – but at least it was daring

As a general rule, in Test rugby you kick your goals as and when they arise

England will kick their goals – or at least, attempt to kick their goals – when they run up against the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday, partly because the wave of criticism over their decision-making last weekend has forced them into a collective rethink over scoring strategy, but mostly because it is a damned sight harder to manhandle a South African pack from an attacking line-out than it is to make mincemeat of a bunch of Australians.

Chris Robshaw, the red-rose captain, has been roundly accused over the last couple of days for ignoring penalty chances while his side were 20-14 down to the Wallabies with a quarter of the game left to play. Stuart Lancaster, the coach, has joined him in the dock, largely on the say-so of his predecessor Sir Clive Woodward, who expressed the view that a little foresight might have saved an awful lot of hindsight. Such penalty calls should be pre-determined, argued the man who once saw his England side reject kickable goals for fun in a game against Wales and squander a Grand Slam as a consequence.

A couple of hours after the final whistle at the weekend, Robshaw could be heard going some way towards acknowledging that he should have asked his outside-half, Toby Flood, to kick for the sticks on at least one occasion and possibly two. Lancaster hinted at something similar yesterday after reviewing the game with his players, although he steered well clear of dishing out criticism of the personal variety.

Yet the coach's insistence that this was not a "black-and-white" issue probably resonated with a good proportion of the regulars in the Twickenham stands, who have watched deeply conservative England teams err on the side of caution for much of the last decade and now respond with enthusiasm to something just a little more daring.

Heaven knows, a driving maul from a five-metre line-out is not the height of rugby artistry, but only a dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon would vilify a captain for attempting to overturn a six-point deficit with a converted try rather than chip away at it with the boot.

This is an inexperienced England side – nine of last weekend's starting line-up, including Robshaw, were still in single figures on the international cap count – and its members are brimming with good intentions. Some of their ideas will inevitably fall victim to the law of unintended consequences while others will be abandoned as naive or unworkable, but at least there is a spirit of can-do optimism about the current set-up. Compare that to the joyless negativity running through the team during last year's World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

As a general rule of thumb in Test rugby, you kick your goals as and when they arise. But is Robshaw really to be damned for thinking he and his fellow forwards had their Wallaby opponents by the balls, and that their hearts and minds would surely follow? He thought wrong, as it turned out, but at least he was being bold.

Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam