Simon Middleton: Criticism of England’s Red Roses was frustrating | ‘Australia Rugby World Cup quarter a challenge’ | Rugby Union News

“France got into our 22 for 13 seconds, while we had 13 minutes in theirs, so it is frustrating people didn’t appreciate some of the other parts of the game. The game management. I also thought it was a bit tough on France because they are a great side. It was frustrating” – Middleton

Last Updated: 24/10/22 11:42am

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England head coach Simon Middleton says that his side have taken inspiration from England’s Euros victory ahead of their World Cup quarter final against Australia

England head coach Simon Middleton says that his side have taken inspiration from England’s Euros victory ahead of their World Cup quarter final against Australia

Red Roses head coach Simon Middleton has admitted frustration at the criticism his side received after World Cup victory vs France, while adding the task of facing Australia in the quarters will be a challenge. 

England defeated tournament debutants Fiji 84-19, France 13-7 and lowly raked South Africa 75-0 en route to booking a quarter-final place.

Yet, as such overwhelming favourites to win the World Cup in New Zealand, criticism came the side’s way for the manner of their win vs Les Bleus – something Middleton admits was frustrating.

“Absolutely thrilled,” Middleton told Sky Sports on Monday, when asked his assessment of the side’s World Cup performance so far.

“Obviously our initial goal was to get out of the pool stages, and we’ve had some pretty good performances so far.

“We’re thrilled to make it through to the quarters.

“France are a fantastic side, and they’re a great defensive side.

Middleton admits frustration at criticism his side have received at the World Cup

Middleton admits frustration at criticism his side have received at the World Cup

“It was one of those games where we probably haven’t dominated France as much for a long time as we did in that game, in terms of territory and possession, but we didn’t finish our chances off.

“We created opportunities, we didn’t finish them, and we’re aware of that, and you always have things to work on.

“But I thought in general our play was really strong, and we never really gave France much of a look in.

“I think they got into our 22 for about 13 seconds, while we had about 13 minutes in theirs, so it is a little bit frustrating that people didn’t appreciate some of the other parts of the game. The game management.

France's defensive line came out on top in quite a few facets as England won by a tight margin

France’s defensive line came out on top in quite a few facets as England won by a tight margin

“And I also thought it was a bit tough on France because they are a great side. Probably the best defensive side in the world.

“So it was frustrating.”

Emily Scarratt proved to be the difference between the two sides, scoring and finding pinpoint accuracy with the boot

Emily Scarratt proved to be the difference between the two sides, scoring and finding pinpoint accuracy with the boot

Middleton: Australia in the quarter-finals a tough challenge

England next face Australia in the quarter-finals on Sunday and, despite being favourites, Middleton refuses to look too far ahead.

“First and foremost, it’s Australia in a World Cup which is fantastic. The England vs Australia rivalry in any sport is brilliant so this is going to be great.

“We don’t often get the chance to play some of the southern hemisphere sides. We haven’t played Australia since 2017 [a 53-10 win].

“They’ve started off really well. They play a very expansive brand of rugby, and had the hosts New Zealand down 17-0 in no time in the opening game [Black Ferns eventually winning 41-17] so we know it’s going to be really tough.

Middleton looked towards England's World Cup quarter-final vs Australia, and said the Lionesses continue to provide his squad inspiration

Middleton looked towards England’s World Cup quarter-final vs Australia, and said the Lionesses continue to provide his squad inspiration

“They’ve got some really good ball carriers, lots of skill, a good Sevens influence you can see in the expansion in their play, so it’s going to be a great challenge.”

While Middleton admits he has not had the chance to speak to Lionesses head coach Sarina Wiegman – present in New Zealand at the Red Roses’ final pool game vs South Africa – in person, but he confirmed again how the England Women’s football side have given his squad huge inspiration.

“We’ve not had a chance to speak to her [Sarina Wiegman] directly, but we’ve certainly taken a lot of inspiration.

“We looked at how they [Lionesses] managed their tournament, and we’ve discussed it as a coaching group, how they utilised their squad.

“I spoke to Kate Hayes, their psychologist, just in terms of how they were so strong as a squad through the tournament, and we’ve certainly taken some lessons from that.

“We’ve had some great insights, and it would be great to tie up with her [Wiegman] after the World Cup and talk tournaments.”



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