Former fly-half Danny Cipriani has accused English rugby of “digging its own grave” and appeared to compare coach Steve Borthwick to football manager Sam Allardyce after the national team’s Rugby World Cup plans descended further into disarray.
England lost 29-10 to Ireland on Saturday in their penultimate warm-up match for the tournament and saw Billy Vunipola, the only specialist No8 in the squad, sent off for a high tackle a week after captain Owen Farrell incurred the same fate against Wales.
“English rugby is digging its own grave, led by people that do not understand the art of the game,” mercurial former No10 Cipriani wrote on social media. “It’s steeped in tradition and heritage which is out dated and the very thing shackling the game.”
In a withering assessment of England’s coaching under Steve Borthwick, Cipriani called for “open discussions where coaches welcome new ideas that feel uncomfortable to them because it’s the only way it will grow. Don’t be Sam Allardyce when you can be Pep Guardiola.”
He added: “If you’re trained to think and not to feel you’re always going to be one step behind.”
Borthwick faces another week of uncertainty as he waits to learn how long Vunipola will be banned for, and whether Farrell will be found guilty at a second hearing after World Rugby appealed his initial reprieve last week.
“Hopefully we will find a conclusion on both matters this week and it won’t go into another week,” Borthwick said. “It’s another challenge that’s been thrown at us.”
England are due to play Fiji in their final warm-up match next Saturday before the Rugby World Cup in France, where they meet Argentina in their opening fixture on 9 September.