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Cipriani accepts blame for defeat

By Phil Harlow
BBC Sport at Twickenham

Danny Cipriani
Cipriani admitted the whole team have plenty of learning to do

England fly-half Danny Cipriani has accepted his share of the blame after his side fell to a record 42-6 home defeat at the hands of South Africa.

The 21-year-old endured a difficult afternoon at Twickenham as his side were overrun by the world champions in demoralising fashion.

"I'm extremely disappointed on a personal and on a team level," he said.

"The team deserved a lot better. I know it wasn't my best game and I know I didn't play well."

Phil H - BBC Sport

Cipriani, regarded as one of the most talented young players in the world, dithered over a clearance kick in the first half to allow his opposite number Ruan Pienaar to charge the ball down and run in a simple try.

"It's hard to explain, but it was obviously a delayed reaction by me," said Cipriani.

It was the second time in the November internationals that a charge-down of a Cipriani kick has cost England a try, while he also suffered the same fate against Italy in last season's Six Nations.

But it was his uncharacteristic errors with ball-in-hand that will have really worried new manager Martin Johnson, with a series of passes missing their intended target, and his kicking from hand was also well short of his usual standards.

"I was trying the best I can and there were some points where we were going forward and making yards but then maybe we'd get turned over or I'd make a bad pass or something, so it wasn't flowing," said Cipriani, who was winning just his sixth cap.

"I wouldn't say I felt powerless but we were beaten by a very good South Africa team.

"When you dream about playing for England as a kid, you don't ever imagine that you'll be on the end of a big defeat."

Cipriani has quickly developed a high profile, both inside and outside the sport, with his exciting performances on the field accompanied by front-page headlines, magazine covers and a celebrity girlfriend in Kelly Brook.

Danny Cipriani has his kick charged down
Cipriani (right) has his kick charged down by Ruan Pienaar

But he insisted he had not become distracted by the attention lavished on him since he burst onto the scene.

"My profile's no higher than the next man," he said.

"It comes with playing fly-half; when things go well, you get praised and when they don't, you get criticised.

"There are guys here with many more caps than me, and we will be turning to those guys now."

One of those experienced England players is Cipriani's Wasps team-mate Phil Vickery, who has 67 caps and a World Cup winner's medal to his name.

"We all have a responsibility for the younger guys coming through," said Vickery, who promised to give Cipriani a cuddle to cheer him up.

"You (the media) have built them up into superstars overnight and we have to remember they are still very young guys with an awful lot to learn.

"There's no doubting Danny's quality - not just as a rugby player but as a person - and with what he wants to achieve in the game he's going to have some bumps on the way.

"The most important thing to remember is he's a very good rugby player. And he'll be around this England team for a long time to come."

We want to represent the country and do them proud: this wasn't good enough and we're going to have to look at ourselves

Danny Cipriani

Despite the comprehensive defeat, which equalled the 36-point margin by which the Springboks thrashed England in the group stages of the World Cup last year, Cipriani said the future could still be bright for the new-look side.

"I still have massive faith in this team. There are so many quality players in the backline but as a team we know it was very disappointing," he said.

"There's a lot for us to learn. A lot of great sides have had their dips and have come back from it."

England will have to recover quickly, with New Zealand arriving at Twickenham next Saturday.

"We're going to have to be very strong as a squad. There's going to be a lot of negativity outside it and we need to stay focused," said Cipriani.

"We want to represent the country and do them proud: this wasn't good enough and we're going to have to look at ourselves. By the end of the week we're going to know how strong some people are.

"There's a lot of things for me to improve on. There's no point in hiding from that, I need to get back to the drawing board and improve for next week."

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see also
England 6-42 South Africa
22 Nov 08 |  English
Johnson says defeat was 'brutal'
22 Nov 08 |  English
Johnson is right man - Woodward
22 Nov 08 |  English
Sheridan to miss Springbok Test
20 Nov 08 |  English
South Africa forced into changes
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
Scrum must 'step it up' - Mears
19 Nov 08 |  English
Flanker Haskell back for England
18 Nov 08 |  English
Jeremy Guscott column
17 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 14-28 Australia
15 Nov 08 |  English
Scotland 10-14 South Africa
15 Nov 08 |  Rugby Union
England 6-15 South Africa
20 Oct 07 |  Rugby Union

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Telegraph Cipriani hurting after loss - 3 hrs ago
Telegraph Danny Cipriani hurting after England's record loss to South Africa at Twickenham - 3 hrs ago
Telegraph Cipriani hurting after record loss - 3 hrs ago
Eat Sleep Sport Rugby Union: Cipriani accepts flak for crushing loss - 5 hrs ago
The Scotsman England 6 South Africa 42: England battered by Boks FIVE years to the day after Martin Johnson lifted the World Cup, South Africa gave his England team a punishing reminder just how far they are from reaching those heights again. - 17 hrs ago


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