Six Nations: Steve Borthwick plays down Andy Farrell half-time argument as England beat Ireland: ‘We go a long way back’ | Rugby Union News


Steve Borthwick has played down his half-time argument with Ireland head coach Andy Farrell, when angry words were exchanged, saying: “We go a long way back.”

England boss Borthwick and Farrell exchanged stern words by the touchline in the final few moments of the first half of Saturday’s dramatic Six Nations clash at Twickenham, with the conversation continuing down the tunnel.

A Marcus Smith drop goal with the final kick of the match eventually saw England clinch a 23-22 victory over Six Nations leaders Ireland, dashing the latter’s hopes of historic back-to-back Grand Slams in the process.

Asked about his interactions with Farrell, Borthwick was quick to play it down post-match:

“Absolutely fine. Andy and I have known each other for a long time, we played alongside each other for England, we both represented England at the 2007 World Cup, so we go back a long way,” Borthwick said.

“What he has done with that Ireland team is just incredible. Very special. They are an incredible team and I thought today was a very special Test match.

“It’s between Andy and I. I know people want to read into things like that, but I think Andy and I have a very good relationship. We were co-captains together at Saracens as players, we coached together on the Lions in 2017.

Andy Farrell
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Farrell and Borthwick exchanged stern words on the touchline in the final stages of the first half

“I have incredible respect for him and what he has done with that team. Which, as I say, is a phenomenal team.”

Coming into the game as considerable underdogs, England produced their finest performance under Borthwick to date in the tense one-point success over Ireland.

It was a performance that left Borthwick extremely happy as to the progress of his side.

“I’m really pleased for the players. They’ve worked exceptionally hard and we’ve been progressing each week. But the players to have the tangible reward of the victory against such a good team, that’s important. And it’s also really important for the supporters,” he said.

“I thought Twickenham was magnificent. The supporters left with a smile on their face as well.

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England’s performance and victory was the finest under Borthwick in his time in charge so far

“For us, we concentrate very much on our preparation [not outside doubters]. We know we have a long way to go, but it’s another step in the right direction. It’s an important step in the evolution of the team, but we need to take another step next week.”

England skipper Jamie George admitted the victory was a career highlight.

“I’m so proud. I think it’s one of the most emotional and proud days of my career for sure,” he said.

jamie george
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England captain Jamie George said the victory was one of the most emotional of his career

“The reason for that is because there were a lot of doubters after the Scotland performance, and probably rightly so, but at the same time, internally, we didn’t listen to the noise outside of what we know was important.

“For us to go out there and do that to a team like Ireland, who for me are the best team in the world at the minute, that was a really, really special day.”

Farrell: England deserved victory; We still have a championship to win

Speaking to media afterwards, Ireland head coach Farrell was magnanimous in defeat, admitting he felt England deserved to win, adding the target was now to get his squad back in the mindset to win the championship at home vs Scotland next Saturday.

“Cut a long story short, I actually thought England deserved to win,” he said.

“I thought we fought back unbelievably well against the run of play sometimes. Certainly coming in at half-time like that, and again in the second half finding a way to get ourselves in front.

“But, in the end, I thought England deserved it with the pressure they had and the chances they created. Congratulations to them.

James Lowe of Ireland celebrates the first try
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Ireland took the lead with seven minutes to play, only to lose the Test in its final act

“You talk about Grand Slam, but every game matters doesn’t it? We want to win everything. We have never shied away from that.

“We’ve been very good at winning and moving on, now we have to be really good at losing as well, making sure we congratulate England. I thought they played really well.

“We’ve got to dust ourselves down tomorrow, because we have a championship to win next weekend.

“There’s not a problem getting the lads back on track for next week. Six Nations [titles] are unbelievably difficult to come by. That’s why we love it so much isn’t it?”



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