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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 February 2007, 18:04 GMT
Ashton set for England re-think
England captain Phil Vickery (right) and Joe Worsley leave the field
Captain Phil Vickery (right) says England have no excuses for the defeat
England coach Brian Ashton accepts his rebuilding job might take longer than first thought after the world champions were humbled by Ireland at Croke Park.

Ashton saw his side concede more points (43) than any previous England team in a Five or Six Nations match, and suffer a record 30-point loss to the Irish.

"I was expecting us to be a lot more competitive," said Ashton.

"Maybe the rebuilding job might take that little bit longer than we thought it would two or three weeks ago."

Ashton took over from Andy Robinson in December after England slumped to eight losses in nine matches.

A promising first win against Scotland was followed by a limp victory over Italy before the calamity at Croke Park on Saturday.

I don't feel embarrassed or humiliated - I feel there is a lot of work to do, but we already knew that

England coach Brian Ashton

England's previous highest points-against tally came in a 37-12 loss to France in 1972.

"We have all got to work hard to make sure we get England back on the road to where they should be in world rugby," added Ashton.

"That has been my aim and the players' aim right from the very start. We've had a hiccup on the third step of the journey and fallen down a couple of steps - we've now got to start climbing back up them again.

"I don't feel embarrassed or humiliated. I feel there is a lot of work to do, but we already knew that."

SIX NATIONS BLOG
BBC blogger Jim Stokes

Ireland dominated England in the line-out and at the breakdown and more than held their own in the scrum, a much-talked about area of weakness before the match.

Centre Andy Farrell was also singled out for criticism after the match by former England centres Will Carling and Jeremy Guscott for his perceived lack of pace and flair.

Ashton added: "If you had seen the mood in the dressing room after the game it was like being in a mortuary. There is no disguising the fact what the players felt like, which is good.

"This Ireland team has been together for three or four years now - we've been together for three games, which is a fair old difference in terms of experience, knowledge and things like playing systems.

"We were on the back foot up-front. I am not taking any credit away from Ireland - I thought their forwards were magnificent.

This defeat hurts but we've got to take it on the chin - we've nowhere to hide

England skipper Phil Vickery
"We were beaten all over the field. We knew it would be a difficult game, but we hoped to gain parity or dominance in some areas of the pitch.

"They looked a lot more physical than us, and they were more physical in the collisions. I didn't see that result coming."

England captain Phil Vickery insists his side will not make excuses for the loss as they prepare to face France on 11 March.

"We've got to face up to what is going to be a huge ask in two weeks' time," he said.

"This defeat hurts but we've got to take it on the chin. It's going to be tough but we've nowhere to hide."


SEE ALSO
Farrell must be dropped - Carling
25 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 43-13 England
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v England match data
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Clockwatch Ireland v England
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union
Pundits on Ireland v England
24 Feb 07 |  Rugby Union


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