England rugby boss Simon Middleton hails players for last-gasp victory over France
England manager Simon Middleton described his side’s comeback victory over France as a ‘defining’ moment.
And while Middleton admits it was not as comfortable viewing as their 33-10 win over France six days earlier, he was pleased with the character they had to show to pull through.
"It’s not quite what you wanted from a coaching point of view for your heart rate, but you work things out and you have to problem solve," he told the England Rugby website.
"What we wanted more than anything out of these games, obviously we wanted to win, but we wanted to learn things and we’ve learnt an awful lot.
"The big lesson for the squad is we can win from anywhere if they stay with it and they did. Wins like that you can’t buy them as they galvanise you as a squad and a group.
"You can do as much team building and stuff as you want on and off the field, but wins like that where you dig in together and pull it out of the hat, they’re the ones that define you as a group.
"We’ve grown the squad hugely in terms of our strength in depth – we’ve got the best part of 15 international players injured at the moment.
"We’ve got a lot of young players who are learning their trade at an accelerated rate. From a strength in depth point of view we come out of this year way better than we went into it."
Middleton brought his entire eight-player substitute bench on in the final stages of the match as he looked to rush France at the end of the game - a strategy which ended up paying off.
England are now the No. 1 ranked team in the world after back-to-back wins over France, a team they have been drawn in the same pool as for the World Cup next year.