Rugby

Steve Borthwick filled with ‘immense pride’ after England fight hard in France

Borthwick’s side backed up their stunning triumph over Ireland in every respect apart from the final result.

England head coach Steve Borthwick enjoyed his team’s fighting spirit
England head coach Steve Borthwick England head coach Steve Borthwick enjoyed his team’s fighting spirit (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Steve Borthwick praised England’s fighting spirit after seeing his team denied a precious Guinness Six Nations win against France by a final-minute Thomas Ramos penalty.

England appeared to have snatched victory with the second of two fightbacks when Tommy Freeman crossed in the right corner only for a no-arms tackle by Ben Earl in the closing seconds to enable Ramos to seal a 33-31 victory.

It ended an enthralling evening in Lyon that saw Borthwick’s side back up their stunning triumph over Ireland in every respect apart from the final result.

Borthwick stated after England lost to Scotland at Murrayfield in round three that the Red Rose jersey was weighing heavily on his players, but he saw the pressure lift at Groupama Stadium.

“My overriding emotion is immense pride in the players and gratitude to our supporters,” Borthwick said.

“The players have been incredible – they played really well and I’m really disappointed for them.

“I’ve talked about the weight of the shirt in the past but with the kind of support we’re getting, the England shirt is starting to feel a bit lighter, it’s helping these players grow.

“We didn’t get the result we wanted but you look at the players and the fight and intensity they had.

“I don’t think these guys are ever beaten and we weren’t beaten in this game, we just ran out of time. We saw the way they went back at it to try to find another score.

“We’ve taken on two teams in the top four of the world and we’ve shown how we can compete with them.

“To be clear, we don’t just want to be competing, we want to win. We shown the team has step forward.”

The nature of France’s victory brought memories of last autumn’s Rugby World Cup flooding back for Jamie George, who recalled the similarity between Ramos’ penalty and Handre Pollard kicking South Africa to a last-gasp semi-final win from a similar position.

“That’s the way Test match rugby goes – we knew it’s going to be hostile and we knew France were coming out to give it a good crack. I thought it was a great Test match all in all,” England captain George said.

“Of course I’m gutted about the result. I feel like we deserved a lot of the game because of the way we attacked it game and went after it.

“There was a lot to be very pleased about and very proud of. Fair play to France for coming back and getting that penalty at the end and fair play to Ramos for knocking it over.

“There was a bit of deja vu from the Pollard penalty a few month ago. That’s always going to be tough to take but like Steve said there’s so much to be proud of over the last few weeks.

“We genuinely feel like this team is on and upward curve and we’re going somewhere.”

Fabien Galthie was happy to finish second with France
Fabien Galthie Fabien Galthie was happy to finish second with France (Andrew Matthews/PA)

France finished second in the Six Nations and boss Fabien Galthie felt it helped make amends for their World Cup quarter-final exit.

“We are very happy, it was a tough game, it was a tough tournament. We paid for our mistakes, we learnt about our mistakes. We were resilient and solid,” Galthie said.

“This game looked like our quarter final against South Africa but at the end, the result is really different.

“And I think this game can help us to forget what happened during the World Cup.”