Haskell: "This team has aspirations to fulfil"

  • Back row duo Chris Robshaw and James Haskell speak from Cardiff pitch
  • “This is a brilliant start, but it’s only a start” – Robshaw

Relentless captain Chris Robshaw pinpointed his side’s rock solid defence as the major factor in the stunning Cardiff comeback that exorcised the memory of the Grand Slam capitulation two years ago.

England surged back from a 16-8 half time deficit to keep Wales scoreless after the break as a first Test try from Jonathan Joseph, skinning Dan Biggar and wriggling past George North and Rhys Webb, and the boot of George Ford secured a 21st in 61 matches on Welsh soil.

Wales No.9 Webb’s neat try and two Leigh Halfpenny kicks had also put the hosts into an early 10-0 lead, before 20 year-old Anthony Watson grabbed a maiden international try at a crucial juncture to trip the lead.

Speaking to ERtv from the Millennium Stadium pitch as Swing Low rung out all around him after the 21-16 win, Robshaw said it is difficult to analyse the game while emotions are running high but highlighted the players’ immense character.

“There are a lot of England fans, to hear Swing Low being sung down here is a tremendous feeling,” said the exhausted openside flanker. “All the boys have been walking round thanking everyone, this is a brilliant start, but it’s only a start.

"Our defence was outstanding, that’s the character of this squad"

“It’s a pretty different feeling from that day [in 2013]. There was something still in it from two years ago so we can here with a real intent and real purpose.

“To come away with a win was always going to be tough, a lot of questions were asked of us coming down here. Our defence was outstanding, those last few minutes of defence were brilliant, that’s the character of this squad.

“At half time we just said keep on doing what we were doing. Once we started carrying the ball in the right areas, they started giving away penalties and they were under pressure.”

Fellow back row James Haskell, a veteran of the last four trips to face Wales in Cardiff, outlined the importance of the victory after years of hurt illuminated by the 30-3 defeat in 2013.

The 29 year-old, described as “absolutely outstanding” and “having his best game in my time” by head coach Lancaster, won at the Millennium Stadium in 2011 after losing in 2007 and 2009.

"This team has aspirations and we want to fulfil them"

And with a Rugby World Cup 2015 meeting looming in seven months, the Wasps captain said: “Sometimes in rugby you end up getting demons after poor performances and we had many of them [against Wales]. In the Six Nations in 2013 we had a big disappointment coming here, it’s a very difficult place to come and win.

“There was great excitement [in the post-match celebrations]. We know how good Wales are. We’ve got them in our group during the World Cup, they’re a very intense side and there’s a lot of rivalry between us.

“There have been a lot of words said in the press but it’s very important that your actions do the talking. Tonight the boys were outstanding, we’ve got a lot to work on, we know that, but this team has aspirations and we want to fulfil them.”

England play Italy at Twickenham Stadium in their second 2015 RBS 6 Nations match on Saturday.

More post-match reaction with fly half George Ford and full back Mike Brown is to follow over the weekend.