England rugby ace compares coach to Star Trek legend and World War code-cracker

England Rugby World Cup star Jonny May says coach Steve Borthwick is a "genius", in spite of their agonising semi-final defeat to South Africa.

Borthwick's team came oh so close to making their second-successive World Cup final on Saturday, with the Springboks taking the lead for the first time in the game with three minutes to play, sealing a 16-15 victory. The 44-year-old former lock has been in charge since December 2022 and has clearly made a good impression within the squad.

May, who has started all but one of England's matches out in France, likened Borthwick's intelligence to that of legendary World War 2 code breaker Alan Turing and, more colourfully, Spock from Star Trek. "We're starting to see what a genius Steve is in terms of how he's starting to get this team going," May said.

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"You won't find a harder working man than Steve and his approach to the game is a little bit like Alan Turing," the Gloucester winger added. "If anybody is going to crack the code to rugby it will be Steve – he's getting ever closer each week and good luck to him.

"He's got an analytical brain and an evidence-based, scientific, Spock-like approach to the game. Steve, with his ways, he's on to something. He's a young coach and has this unique and different way that he goes about the game. Cracking it is not something I'm interested in doing as the game gets more complicated each week, but he's obsessed with it so hats off to him."

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Turing was a mathematician, scientist and cryptanalyst who is considered the father of computing and artificial intelligence. He headed up Britain's attempts to crack Nazi Germany's Enigma Code during the Second World War. The code was considered unbreakable, but Turing and his team at Bletchley Park broke it in 1941. Doing so is estimated to have shortened the war by two years, saving roughly 14 million lives.

Tragically, Turing's efforts weren't made public until long after his death. After the war, he was prosecuted for his homosexuality and chemically castrated. He died in 1954 from cyanide poising. His death was ruled as a suicide, though evidence suggests it could have been an accidental poisoning.

England's rugby team will be aiming for glory in France, with Umbro supplying their kits for the tournament. It is the first time that the supplier have been handed the chance to produce the kits, with a traditional white home shirt emblazoned with the iconic red rose.

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Borthwick, meanwhile, earned 57 caps for England as a player between 2001 and 2010, with a number of them coming as captain. He turned to coaching in 2012, spending three years as Japan assistant manager before moving on to become Bristol Bears' forwards coach in 2015.

He became England's forwards coach later that year, a role he would hold until 2020 when he left to become head coach of Leicester Tigers. Two years later he returned to the national time, this time as manager.

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