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Last Updated: Monday, 13 March 2006, 12:27 GMT
Illness is no excuse says Dawson
Matt Dawson tries to break a tackle during Sunday's defeat to France
Dawson was ill before the match
Matt Dawson says the England team will not use illness as an excuse for their 31-6 Six Nations loss to France.

Dawson was among a group of players affected by a stomach bug, but the Wasps scrum-half said he would not have played if he did not feel fit enough.

"Come one or two o'clock when we needed to make the decision, I felt pretty good," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

"We weren't up to it, whether it's our skill level, our defence, our attack. It wasn't where it should have been."

Dawson was affected by the bug along with Mike Tindall and Steve Thompson, plus replacements Tom Voyce and Lee Mears.

The scrum-half admitted he was not "feeling 100%" during the night before the match, but insisted he was in a suitable physical condition to play.

We cannot look for excuses, even though there was gastro-enteritis in the camp
England captain Martin Corry
Dawson said he was unsure about where the illness had orignated, but cooled rumours that the players had become sick after visiting a seafood restaurant in Paris on Thursday.

"We took our own chef and our own food. It was just something that was going around, a couple of players had it back in the England camp," he said.

"It was very disappointing. Nobody in the camp will be using any excuses."

Dawson added that England coach Andy Robinson had to analyse his role in Sunday's defeat.

"I think he does... like the majority of the players, who were very self-critical," said the Wasps player.

"They will analyse where to improve, what they got wrong in preparation and what they got right. That's been a strength of English rugby.

"Maybe we haven't lost as many games in a short period as we have recently for a long time. So that's a new part, a new stage of their coaching development which they (the coaches) need to look at.

"But they have certainly got the ability to rectify where we are."

Captain Martin Corry backed Dawson's view that England's dire display was not caused by illness.

"We cannot look for excuses, even though there was gastro-enteritis in the camp," Corry told the Guardian.

"It was a bug, not food poisoning, and Matt Dawson was particularly ill. But we are not hiding behind it."

Corry said he did not know where the bug came from, but reports claim several of the England squad dined at a seafood restaurant on Thursday.

England were forced to issue an emergency summons for a back-up scrum-half ahead of the game as Dawson struggled to recover.

Worcester's Andy Gomarsall, who had played a full 80 minutes on Friday evening against Wasps, eventually answered the call after England failed to locate their preferred choice, Shaun Perry of Bristol.

Interview: England's Matt Dawson

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