England coach Stuart Lancaster refused answer for the decision to go for a penalty instead of an attacking lineout when they were a point behind late in the Test against the Springboks.
It was predictably the first question from the English press. The local boys were pretty miffed about the call and desperately wanted an explanation. However, Lancaster wouldn’t be drawn on it, despite being asked numerous times about it in different forms.
‘There will be lots of decisions to review with the generals of this team,’ he said. ‘I’m not going to discuss that decision here directly after the match. On Monday, when the emotion is gone, we’ll discuss it,’ he said.
‘You get some calls right and some wrong, that is part of any side’s development. We back the players and support them. What we don’t do is discuss these things in press conferences.’
When the same question was put to Jean de Villiers, he was a equally guarded. ‘Had they caught the ball and held on from the restart, they could have come into our territory, earned a penalty and won the game. As it turned out it didn’t work out for them. That may happen again in future and they’ll win, then there’ll be no comments.’
There was, however, clear disagreement among the players about the decision, which is something De Villiers said wasn’t healthy. He also admitted that the decision to take the points felt like being let off the hook. ‘It made it a lot easier knowing that we’ll be in their half,’ he said.
Lancaster tried to peddle positive rhetoric, pointing to England’s rebound as one of those. ‘You can’t question the character of this England side. There has been some questions around that in the past. But at 16-6 down, when you have the character to come back in contention against the second best team in the world, that’s hugely impressive.’