Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 18 March Kick-off: 17:00 GMT
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Ulster; follow live text commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

The debrief from England’s record home loss to France will run longer than the six days they have before facing Grand Slam-chasing Ireland.

After a mixed start to the Six Nations – defeat by Scotland before wins against Italy and Wales – England were blown away in the 53-10 loss on Saturday.

With the help of former England internationals Ugo Monye and Chris Ashton, here is a look at what is going wrong for the side – and what might be to come.

The fly-half fandango

There was confusion among England fans when Marcus Smith was sent back to his club Harlequins before the France game, then was picked to start for his country.

New head coach Steve Borthwick continued Eddie Jones’ experiment of Smith at 10 and captain Owen Farrell at 12 against Scotland.

Then, Farrell was the starting fly-half for two matches before being demoted to the bench in favour of Smith – but that did not work either, as Saturday’s scoreline shows.

Adding to the confusion, George Ford – who won the Premiership with Borthwick at Leicester – has been in and out of the England camp and former club team-mate Ashton believes reinstating him to the matchday 23 could help.

“I definitely feel that George Ford has to come back into the team this weekend,” Ashton said on the Rugby Union Daily podcast.

“I know from our time at Leicester how central he was to Steve. Because Steve’s strength isn’t attack, he needs to have someone to get it across to the team. In George he had that at Leicester.

“He can put everyone in the right place and he can move the team around the pitch. He is probably the link we are missing right now.”

England’s faulty foundations

Borthwick only took over in December and had limited time with England before the Six Nations began, but Monye says there are “no excuses” after such a poor performance.

The former England wing points out that Borthwick has been trying to at least nail down the basics for England in their defence, kicking game and set-piece.

While England’s kicking made little progress, France found theirs fruitful and scored two tries from searching kicks.

The visitors’ forward pack was dominant and the success of England’s defence can be easily measured in the seven tries France scored.

“We got blitzed,” Monye says. “Absolutely monstered. When you talk about the fundamentals, the foundations just weren’t there.

“The one requirement you need to have in international rugby is physicality and we got blown away.”

A Six Nations table showing: 1. Ireland P 4 W 4 D 0 L 0 PD 66 B 3 Pts 19; 2. France P 4 W 3 D 0 L 1 PD 46 B 3 Pts 15; 3. Scotland P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 PD 8 B 2 Pts 10; 4. England P 4 W 2 D 0 L 2 PD -22 B 2 Pts 10; 5. Wales P 4 W 1 D 0 L 3 PD -50 B 1 Pts 5; 6. Italy P 4 W 0 D 0 L 4 PD -48 B 1 Pts 1

A lack of depth and leadership

Ellis Genge took over the captaincy on Saturday, with Farrell on the bench and Courtney Lawes out injured for the rest of the tournament.

Borthwick has also changed the guard at scrum-half, bringing in young talents Jack van Poortvliet and Alex Mitchell instead of centurion Ben Youngs.

Monye questions whether a lack of leadership in the side meant England could not bounce back after being “shell-shocked” by Thomas Ramos’ early opening score.

“They got sucker punched and they just didn’t react,” Monye says.

“England failed to recover from 90 seconds into the game. You need leaders in your team to say ‘it doesn’t matter, calm down’. It is a lot of experience in the spine of the team that we don’t have right now.”

BBC rugby union correspondent Chris Jones highlights a lack of depth in certain key areas, including tight-head prop, hooker, number eight and full-back.

Ashton believes that, despite a large player pool in England and the quality of the domestic league, the presence of overseas players in the Premiership is affecting the depth of offerings for the national side.

“At Leicester, we have South African and Argentina forwards who generally lead the way for us,” Ashton says.

“Is that a good thing for English rugby? Is that why we are now a bit thin in certain areas, because we have been used to overseas players having a big impact in our league for so long?

“Our league is one of the best so England should be top two in the Six Nations every year.”

What next for England?

Things could get worse very quickly when England face Grand Slam-chasing and world number one team Ireland in Dublin on Saturday.

But Monye says there is “no pressure” in that fixture after a dismal Twickenham performance.

“England might be a bit freer this weekend, see clearer and have a sense of excitement,” he adds.

“You can’t try and fix everything this week. Two or three things is what they need to focus on. You need an emotional reaction and that needs to come in sheer physicality.

“The number one thing you can change in seven days is mindset and how they feel. They have to try and park it and have a sense of positivity, which might be manufactured.

“Saturday is the last competitive match before the World Cup. They all go back to their clubs and there are no guarantees this squad will be together for the World Cup so they’ve got to leave everything out there. That is the simple message.”

Ashton has hope too, saying: “The coaching team is there. From my experience with them, they can pull it together.

“They need a bit more time. We show some pride this weekend then we focus on this World Cup.”

Source: BBC

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