Richard Wigglesworth has responded to criticism of Stuart Lancaster’s England from Will Carling by questioning the former captain’s grasp of modern professional rugby.
Carling reacted to Saturday’s 28-25 defeat against Wales by accusing Lancaster of creating a “classroom-oriented environment” and treating the players as “schoolboys”.
England must topple Australia at Twickenham on Saturday if they are to save their World Cup and Carling’s comments have been greeted with a mixture of anger and disappointment by the squad.
“We knew coming into this that it could be like this, but he doesn’t know, hasn’t played the game for how long and hasn’t been involved in professional rugby for how long,” scrum-half Wigglesworth said.
“Let’s have a meaningful discussion about his knowledge, about what he knows about the game. He is there to further his own career and good luck to him.”
Wigglesworth has taken exception to criticism of England’s lack of leadership, although the Saracens half-back would not identify to whom he was referring.
“Certain people who have come out and said things should know better and it seems that no one has ever made a mistake in life and no one has made a decision that hasn’t worked out for them,” he said.
“They are entitled to do that and are progressing their own careers and I have no interest in anything they have to say because they are not here.
“They are not living it and doing it and I’m not bothered.
“They annoy me and p*** me off. I’m just indifferent to how ridiculous some of their chat is.”
Carling responded to Wigglesworth via a short video clip posted on his Twitter account.
“Some of the coaches feel that if you criticise you’re not a supporter, but I don’t believe that,” Carling said.
“I don’t believe that going ‘rah rah, England’ with your eyes closed means you’re a great England supporter.
“The players and coaches have to be honest with each other.
“I know Richard Wigglesworth has said what the hell do I know about rugby and he’s got a point because I’m an old fart.
“But one of the things we did do was invest a huge amount of time, effort and emotion into learning the lessons of what we got wrong.
“And we got a lot wrong against Wales.
“Therefore the players and coaches have to be brutally honest with each other because that is how you get a team to be successful, not by ignoring serious issues.
“If we ignore the faults, ignore what went wrong, we’ll be very vulnerable.
“So I’m hoping some honest, brutal conversations will have taken place early in the week, then there will be a focus on Australia and reminding ourselves how good some of our players are and how well they have played.
“If we did that I think we’ll witness a great performance against Australia and a great win.”