England 6-11 Scotland: Blame us not the boss for Calcutta Cup flop says Itoje

This time Maro Itoje was not prepared to see Eddie Jones throw himself into the line of fire.

This time he could not stay silent and allow his boss to take a bullet for him and his red-faced team mates.

Itoje knew the drill, he’d seen it after the World Cup final in Japan and defeat by France in Paris a year ago.

England lose badly and Jones protects his players by deflecting the flak onto himself by insisting it was he who got it wrong.

Sure enough, the whistle blew on one of the most inept Red Rose displays and Jones was straight in amongst the flying shrapnel.

Itoje was not having it. “We’re the ones on the field, we’re the ones responsible for our own performance,” he said.

“All the players know, as I’m pretty sure everyone does, that wasn’t up to scratch. That wasn’t good enough.

“As players we didn’t put our best foot forward. The basics of our game, we didn’t bring.”

England were second best in every area. Against a nation that had not beaten them at Twickenham since 1983 they barely got a touch of the ball.

They lacked discipline, direction and composure. While Hamish Watson and Jonny Gray caused havoc up front, England’s big men infringed on an industrial scale.

While Finn Russell, Cam Redpath and Stuart Hogg sparkled, England’s decision makers resembled robots out of battery.

Jamie George admitted they “were not quite at the races”, by which he could only have meant they were still in Moss Bros hiring their suits.

For the Six Nations champions were so far off the pace, in thought and deed, that this constituted the biggest five-point hammering in rugby history.

Hogg beat more defenders than the opposition combined, England scoring fewer points than any Red Rose team for a dozen years.

“When you play for England you need to make sure there are certain standards you hold yourself to,” said George. “We didn’t do that.

“We were a bit lethargic and ill-disciplined and that meant we couldn't apply any pressure. There was an air of desperation almost.”

Nobody would accept that building the spine of the team around Saracens players who had not played for two months was a mistake.

Except, that is, former Scotland boss Matt Williams, who laid into the Sarries quintet on Irish TV, in particular No.8 Billy Vunipola.

“If we didn’t know the pubs were closed you’d swear he had been in one,” said the Australian. “He was out of shape. There was no way he was ready for international rugby.”

With Vunipola in the sin bin, Duhan van der Merwe scored the try which proved decisive.

Scots will remember it as the day 38 years of hurt came to an end. For England it was the first time neither a crowd nor their team turned up.

ENGLAND – Pens: Farrell 2.

SCOTLAND – Try: Van der Merwe. Pens: Russell 2.

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