Rugby Union

English rugby needs to follow the suit of other sports in rebuilding

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I haven't bothered to look at the papers this morning. I am guessing that there will be calls for Chris Robshaw's head and God-knows-what body parts currently owned by Stuart Lancaster.

No doubt the cacophony generated from Sports Desks across England will drown out a question asked on Saturday night on ITV in the post-match post-mortem by one of the few pundits qualified to speak on the subject, Jonny Wilkinson.

His question was to ask the press whether they were interested in selling newspapers or, like him, winning the World Cup as soon as possible. He's right in saying we have a good team, and further that the World Cup arrived a year or two too early.


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It takes time to build a team and the career of an International Rugby Player is shorter than that of his counterparts in Football or Cricket.  If the All Blacks win this tournament it'll be the first time a team a) successfully defended the title and b) taken less than eight years between wins.

The Group of Death had three teams that rightly have aspirations to win the whole thing, and most of the Press will ignore that.  Instead, there will be a witch-hunt and sacrifices to sate the blood of the press pack. 

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Who could possibly want to be the England Coach in any of our three main sports?  The only job more difficult right now is at St James' Park.  

In the past few weeks Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that he had been approached twice to be England Football Manager and had turned it down for being a job too impossible, even for him, because of Press attention - it was as a second thought and a throwaway remark that being Scottish wouldn't necessarily help either.

Perhaps a starting point for the England Rugby Team is to take a look at what their counterparts up the Road in St. John's Wood did with the Cricket team. It was a scant few months after the ignominy of being dumped out of the World Cup by Bangladesh (for goodness sake!) that The Ashes had been retained.

The transformation has to be put down in large part to the attitude of the new Coach Trevor Bayliss. His philosophy is that the players he has are the best in the country. They are the most talented. Sometimes they will fail.  The law of averages says they should succeed more often.  The best way to get that average up is to go out and play. Without Restriction. Because they are good enough.

For England to win anything worth putting in a trophy cabinet at Lords, Wembley or Twickenham, the Press have to lower their expectations. Yes, a poor performance against Bangladesh needs to be derided, and if England had come a cropper like the Boks to Japan that too should lead to some criticism - but to lose to two teams who may well contest the Final, come on.

The sooner it is accepted that there are perhaps 12 or so teams capable of winning a Football World Cup - which means four won't make it past the Round of 16 - or currently four teams vying for the number one spot in Test cricket and half a dozen teams still hoping to run out at Twickenham come the end of the month the sooner we will win something.

Turn the heat off a bit chaps, let our boys go out and play, and win. Who knows, you might even sell some more papers.

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Rugby Union
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