Lewis Moody: Losing Slams makes you stronger – just ask 2003 World Cup winners

Don’t get carried away with one defeat. Lancaster knows it’s a journey

Any successful team has a journey to go on and there will be hiccups along the way. Take Wales over the past year – their form was up and down like a yo-yo before Saturday's glorious finale for the men in red. For any successful side the lessons to be learnt in defeat are huge and if those lessons are understood by Stuart Lancaster's young side then this can prove a crucial staging post en route to a bright future.

Lancaster has stuck with a team he wants to take through to 2015 and Wales will have taught him a few things about who has the ability to perform on the biggest stage. In certain positions there were a few harsh realities but I believe ultimately England will look back on this game as a turning point. The World Cup-winning side of 2003 had more than one loss like this to deal with and it helped create the team that won in Australia. Three Grand Slams slipped away in 1999, 2000 and 2001 before they won it in 2003. It teaches you not to let the moment get to you, how to deliver on those high-octane occasions.

Don't get carried away with one defeat. Lancaster and his coaching staff know it is a journey. When I said before the match that England winning the Six Nations rather than the Grand Slam was a better outcome for them, the point I was trying to make was that this is all about that long process and what you learn along the way to having a go at your ultimate goal: the 2015 World Cup on home soil. What happened on Saturday can contribute towards making that a happy ending. Now they know the pressure of the biggest stage and all the surrounding elements that come with that, the passion that will always be deployed against England. It can only be a good lesson for Lancaster.

There is the nucleus of a good squad here but you can get carried away by the rate of England's progress. The nation went from watching a team produce two ordinary performances against South Africa and Australia – who, remember, had just been thumped by France – and being one game away from a poor autumn, to hammering the world champions. The euphoria of that win over New Zealand changed expectations massively. In reality, there is still a long way to go. This is a gradual process – expectation can often outweigh reality. England have finished second in each of Lancaster's two seasons – one game away from the Grand Slam in both, which is still an achievement.

There are elements for England to take out of Saturday. The defence in the first half was excellent. For 60 minutes it was a great game but once Wales scored that first try, that was it. It was frustrating for England, but when you play at the highest level it is about getting the little things right. England did not do that and ultimately they were beaten by a better side. Defensively England made errors, which has been uncommon for them, and they had a bad day in the scrum.

In key positions there are quite a few young guys who had not played in these sort of games before – a championship decider with a Grand Slam on the line is a different sort of pressure to playing an autumn international against the Kiwis. Experience matters and you can make a case for that being an important factor in what happened in Cardiff but I don't see it as the be all and end all. It did contribute and there were many guys new to playing in the Millennium, who perhaps didn't realise the full extent of the ferocity with which an England v Wales game in Cardiff is played out.

Winning a Grand Slam is a huge undertaking. It is very rarely done and because it requires you to perform at the absolute best of your abilities for every match, by the end of the Italy game you could see that England were starting to become drained after a long, intense campaign.

Do not take anything away from Wales, in fact England can learn from their turnaround. This was a side that got it right as the tournament went on. They were unrecognisable from the XV that started out being run ragged in that opening half against Ireland. Hats off to them for turning it around and then delivering in style. Choosing Sam Warburton – a player who sums up the Welsh recovery in the tournament – at No 6 was key as he and Justin Tipuric had blinding games. Tipuric has played himself into Lions contention.

 

Forza Italia at last

It has not been a vintage championship – the nature of northern hemisphere rugby means there will rarely be a try-fest – but there was one hugely encouraging feature, and one that is good for the global game. Italy's form has been a revelation and if they can build on this it is just what the sport needs, another nation that can challenge any side it faces on any day.

The improvement is summed up by winger Giovanbattista Venditti, who looks a real threat. All of a sudden there is a boldness and invention to their game that has not been there before. It is a real positive for the tournament and now there truly are no easy games in the Six Nations.

Must do better: three areas for england to improve

The back three

Mike Brown and Alex Goode have been very solid but whether that is the combination for 2015 remains to be seen. Ben Foden needs to be in the squad, pushing all of them for their places. At his best he is just electric. Chris Ashton is certainly out of sorts and is clearly finding it very, very tough – when wingers are not scoring you can see the frustration mounting. He still has the ability but it's not working now.

The scrum

This is a particular area of concern for England. The scrum had been seen as one of England's strong areas but they spent a chastening afternoon being given the pusharound by the Wales eight. I would have Courtney Lawes, with his extra bulk, back in the second row as one change, although Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling have had good seasons. There is nothing like real competition for places to raise the levels.

The midfield

Manu Tuilagi and Brad Barritt lost out to the Welsh centres. Barritt has been a stalwart for Lancaster but there are players with more all-round creative ability. Billy Twelvetrees has come in and done well. I still see Jonathan Joseph as one long-term answer.

Lewis Moody is a TAG Heuer ambassador

News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Contestants during this summer's Celebrity Big Brother grand finale
tvBroadcaster attempts to change its image following sale to US
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Extras
indybest
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Dales attempts to sell British Breeze in the luxury scent task
tvReview: 'Apprentice' candidates on the verge of tears as they were ejected from the boardroom
Voices
New look: Zellweger at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
voicesRenée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity, says Amanda Hess
Sport
Christiano Ronaldo enjoys his opening goal
champions leagueLiverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Ronaldo and Benzema run Reds ragged to avenge thrashing from their last visit to Anfield
Arts and Entertainment
Awesome foursome: Sam Smith shows off his awards
music22-year-old confirms he is 2014’s breakout British music success
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Nicholas Serota has been a feature in the Power 100 top ten since its 2002 launch
art
News
Call me Superman: one of many unusual names chosen by Chinese students
newsChinese state TV offers advice for citizens picking a Western moniker
News
Wilko Johnson is currently on his farewell tour
people
News
Let’s pretend: KidZania in Tokyo
educationKidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day
Life and Style
CHARGE BOOSTER: Aeroplane mode doesn't sound very exciting, but it can be a (phone) hacker's friend. Turning on the option while charging your mobile will increase the speed at which your phone battery charges
techNew book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone
Arts and Entertainment
Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are starring together in civil rights drama Freeheld
film
News
i100
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

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?