|Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday 20 March Kick-off: 16:45 GMT|
|Coverage: Listen to commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live and BBC Radio Ulster; live text commentary and post-match video highlights on the BBC Sport website and app.|
England’s opening-day Six Nations humbling by Scotland acted as a “line in the sand” and a “wake-up call”, according to wing Jonny May.
The home loss followed a successful but underwhelming Autumn Nations Cup, where poor aspects of England’s play were “swept under the rug.”
May says England “needed to change things” and produced a much-improved performance in the win over France.
“The whole lot of us got a wake-up call against Scotland,” he told BBC Sport.
May added: “I’m telling you, we got a smack. But that was the line in the sand we needed to have a good hard look at ourselves and change things.
“The response has been brilliant. We performed well against Italy and won, we performed well against Wales and lost. And then it felt like we sort of brought it all together, upped the performance and got the result against France.”
May says the victory over Les Bleus was especially satisfying given the pressure England were under – both internally and externally – to get a result.
“We needed that win, it was an important win for England rugby, not just for the people in this environment, but the people watching at home as well,” he admitted.
“We have been under pressure from ourselves firstly, no-one can put ourselves under more pressure than what we do.
“But we felt it externally as well. You can’t help but feel it. We care a lot about what we do and there is a bit of a regret that there is a lot of people at home watching us at the moment and you want to give them something to smile about.
“Up until Saturday we hadn’t done that yet.”
England won nine straight matches in 2020, adding the Autumn Nations Cup to the Six Nations title, but May admits results papered over the cracks in terms of performance, with an inspired Scotland exposing those fault-lines last month.
“I’m not sure if I am speaking on behalf of everybody, but my line in the sand [after Scotland] was that our attack isn’t good enough – nowhere near where it needs to be,” May explained.
“Our set-piece and our defence [in 2020] was brilliant, we won games, but our attack wasn’t quite right. That got swept under the rug because we were winning games.
“And then Scotland on a day where the set-piece and defence wasn’t quite where it needs to be, which will happen sometimes, it really shone a light on the fact our attack wasn’t there to win us the game when it should have been.
“So that hit home, and we got hold of it as players, and we’ve been taking step forward after step forward ever since then.”
However, May says the victory over France last time out will be worthless if England are unable to back it up against Ireland in Dublin this coming Saturday.
“It’s funny really because I’m nervous now, because what does that mean if we don’t back it up?” he asked.
“We need to be on it this week, and we are. It is going to be a huge game and I bet Ireland are feeling exactly the same.
“They’ve had a similar campaign to us and they will be desperate to win this last game.”