England captain Chris Robshaw says he takes responsibility for the fateful decision not to kick for goal from a late penalty during Saturday’s painful World Cup defeat to Wales at Twickenham.
The hosts were trailing 28-25 in the closing stages and three points could have secured a draw, but England controversially decided to turn down a kick at the posts from out wide and instead set up a line-out in the corner, in the hope of scoring a match-winning try.
However, the Wales defence kept them at bay and England ended up beaten, having led 19-9 early in the second half.
Asked about the late penalty, Robshaw said: “That call comes down to myself.
“We spoke to the kickers on the pitch and we decided we wanted to go for the win.
“The two line-outs before we had good ascendancy in the driving but, unfortunately, it didn’t come off there.
“It was a tough kick. We weighed up the options, we wanted to go for the win.
“It didn’t work and now it’s about the character of the squad. It hurts like hell at the moment.”
England coach Stuart Lancaster said of the decision: “It was a big call. If you go there, you have to nail it, and we didn’t.
“I know the boys are gutted but collectively it’s more frustrating the number of penalties we gave away that allowed them to stay in the game.
“We talked a lot about the breakdown. [Referee] Jerome Garces is very tight on that and that ultimately was the difference.”
Owen Farrell kicked well for England in the match, finishing with 20 points, and said he would have backed himself to make what would have been a tough penalty.
“As a kicker, if the decision as a group was to go for goal, then obviously you back yourself,” he said. “That’s why you do the job.”
However, Farrell says the team all agreed on the strategy of kicking to the corner and setting up a line-out.
“We believed that we could win the game by doing that,” he said. “We backed ourselves to score the try there and unfortunately it didn’t work out.
“There were a couple of us talking and there were lads around us. We all bought into the decision.
“If doesn’t work out you’ll get criticised, it’s something to jump on. We wanted to go and win the game and back ourselves to do that.
“It’s not worked out this time but, if we’d got the match-winning try, everyone would have praised the decision.”
Wales coach Warren Gatland said: “I thought they would have gone for goal and gone for the draw.
“It was a brave call to make. We did a good job stopping the driven maul and pushed them into touch.
“Those are the decisions you make sometimes. You get a line-out and you win the game, you’re a hero, you make the wrong call and you’re zero. It’s one of those things.
“If you ask me, I would have taken the three points.”
Wales are now in great shape to qualify for the quarter-finals, while England realistically need to beat Australia in a huge match next Saturday if they are to avoid making an early exit.
“There’s no doubt it’s knock-out rugby,” said Lancaster.
“Wales have to go and play Fiji, and have still got to play Australia but, yes, arguably Australia is the knock-out stage for us now.
“Two teams go through from the pool and teams in the past have lost in the pool and gone through to the final.
“I said to the boys in the changing room, everything has to now go into beating Australia.”