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Six Nations 2020: Did France defeat reveal England’s leadership issue?

George Ford, two years younger and a boyhood friend of Farrell, (left) played at fly-half on Sunday

England’s defeat by France on Sunday was the latest in a string of games which have slipped and stayed out of their control.

They were not able to reel in the Springboks in November’s World Cup final.

They could barely quell Scotland’s rally in the Six Nations in March as the visitors shredded a 31-point deficit at Twickenham.

They allowed Wales to escape to victory from 10-3 down at the break at the Principality Stadium 12 months ago.

Is something amiss in their on-pitch decision-making?

Former England wings Chris Ashton and Ugo Monye discussed on Rugby Union Weekly this week whether England rely too heavily on captain Owen Farrell…

‘He’s got such self-belief he will do it his way’

Farrell, 28, was first made England captain when he was promoted to split the responsibility with hooker Dylan Hartley before the 2018 autumn Test series.

Hartley’s international career included only two more starts. Since then Farrell has been on his own, leading the team and pulling the strings as the loudest and longest-serving member of England’s backline.

“I think Owen Farrell is a great captain – he is the same bloke who three months ago took England to a Rugby World Cup final,” said Monye.

“But when you are trying to navigate through the match as well as making decisions on the pitch, it is sometimes too much.

“All great teams have those lieutenants around the captain, you need that leadership group to help make that decision.

“I’m not sure that is exactly happening for England.

“Faz’s voice is the loudest in any England huddle. He’s got such self-belief he will do it his way, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right way for England.”

Ashton, left, spent five seasons as Farrell’s team-mate at Saracens

Ashton, who has played with Farrell at club level as well as with England, agrees.

“With England he takes it all on his own shoulders,” he said.

“That is the way that he wants to be.

“But if you compare it to Saracens, he has got Brad Barritt, who is the captain, sitting at inside centre and has done for years.

“On the other side he has scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth who he has also played with for years and had a lot of success with.

“Those are two voices right beside him that he trusts. Sometimes you need other voices to try and help.”

Six Nations: France 24-17 England – highlights

Article courtesy of BBC Sport
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