When they needed it most, England received a match-saving golden yellow ticket. Tied at 3-3, it was the Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones who gave the hosts the chance to go in at half-time ahead and, therefore, in the ascendancy.
A turning point indeed, as Wales were looking the more threatening in what was largely a tight affair. That is up until the five minutes before the break when Jones received a yellow card and was sent to the sin bin for a clumsy trip on the England hooker Dylan Hartley.
It seems a captains job is not only to command his troops, but also the headlines. The England footballer John Terry was earlier in the week stripped of the captaincy by manager Fabio Capello, after the married man of twins bombarded the tabloids for a number of infidelities.
Then there is Steve Borthwick. The 30-year-old was appointed by England rugby coach Martin Johnson, as the nations captain throughout the Six Nations campaign. Yet some feel Borthwick is captain by default and the appointment was Johnson’s only option given the injury to Tom Croft – Borthwick’s only realistic challenger.
However, yesterday against Wales Borthwick showcased his key attributes. The Saracens lock was England’s main man in the lineout and continued to discreetly impose his authority when England needed a safeguard in possession, or when Wales were venturing to attack.
The England captain once admitted – “I’m a very anonymous person” – yet some who believe Borthwick lacks personality of say a Lawrence Dallaglio or Martin Johnson will keenly be swept aside by those who have worked closely with him in the game.
To put it mildly, his club Saracens feel there is no one around who could step in and do Borthwicks industrious work better. Saracens’ director of rugby, Brendan Venter, earlier explained just how important their captain will be throughout the season: “If we end up having a good season it’ll be because of Steve Borthwick.”
Borthwick, himself, confesses to being “boring” and that being made captain was down to his performances alone.
He said: “My understanding is it’s because of what I do as a player and the way I am around the group. I’ll just bring my hard work, my intensity, my attention to detail and my leadership. That’s what I do.” Simply put, he lets his rugby do the talking.
After yesterday’s win over Wales in the Centenary Test at Twickenham, England have, in the end, nonchalantly jumped the first obstacle in their efforts to lift the Six Nations come the end of March. Should England do so, it will take a brave Martin Johnson to end Borthwick’s tenure as captain beyond the competition.