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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 08:26 GMT 09:26 UK
Gaining from the pain of defeat

By Matt Dawson
England scrum-half

A lot of people have been dwelling on the doom and gloom of us losing but I genuinely cannot help but feel good.

If we had pulled off victory over France it would have been one of the greatest comebacks in rugby history.

We'll be the first to admit we played really poorly in the first half.

But coming off the field at full-time I felt ridiculously proud to be part of the England team. There is a lot to celebrate about the game.

England's Ben Cohen, Lawrence Dallaglio and Josh Lewsey cheer France in the Six Nations
England find it hard to celebrate immediately after losing their Six Nations crown

We went into the half-time break 21-3 down - and deservedly so - but then pulled off a stunning second half.

One wonders what would have happened if we had still had the likes of Jonny Wilkinson and Martin Johnson in our midst.

But that sort of talk is not helpful to anyone as everyone knows you lose something when the really experienced guys step away from proceedings.

So, it was appropriate that the second-half display was all about the new England.

We were doing things we had not done previously, tackling the game in a whole new dimension and trying to put our own new stamp on things in the wake of the World Cup.

That showed tremendous character and it shows the sort of potential we have not only for the coming tours to Australia and New Zealand but also for the long-term future.

Even this soon after a World Cup, it is all about building for the 2007 tournament.

You learn from your mistakes and we made enough of them to learn for a long old time
Sure, we made a lot of mistakes in this Six Nations and we'll make a whole lot more undoubtedly but so will France and everyone.

It is how you react to it that counts.

Back to the game, I cannot help but give special praise to Mike Catt.

He turned the tide when he came on. He added width, which had been missing, and he was so direct and confrontational.

I thought we really took it to them in the first 10 minutes before ridiculously falling by the wayside.

In the first half we made mistakes that were duly and deservedly punished.

You learn from your mistakes and we made enough of them to learn for a long old time.

We know we messed up but we bounced back and I cannot help feeling really positive before facing both Australia and New Zealand.



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