Rugby Union

Richard Cockerill says England must reclaim their own identity

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Richard Cockerill has told England to stop chasing the "holy grail" by copying New Zealand and restore the uncompromising rugby that led to global glory in 2003.

Leicester Tigers boss Cockerill challenged England to bounce back from their abysmal World Cup performance by reclaiming their traditional identity.

A five-man review panel continues to chew the fat over England's lacklustre pool-stage exit from their home World Cup, with no word yet on head coach Stuart Lancaster's future.

Former England hooker Cockerill believes it is time for the national side to stop "coveting the promised land of how others do things".

"I think you have to play how England play, and play to our strengths," said Cockerill.

"I don't want to play like New Zealand because we can't.

"I've got two Kiwi coaches that work with me, they asked me about that and I said: 'New Zealanders are born and given a rugby ball, Englanders are born and given a football'.

"We start to learn rugby, it's not our first love, that's just the nature of it.

"Our soccer team's better than theirs, hopefully.

"In the Northern Hemisphere and England, we have a very attritional mindset, we are bloody minded about what we do.

"And personally I think we spend too much time coveting the promised land of how others do things.

"We can compete and we've shown it, and we can play differently from Southern Hemisphere sides and beat them.

"Clive Woodward's team went away from home in 2003, beat Australia and New Zealand then won the World Cup, they didn't play a fancy, all-court game - they did what English teams do really well and played to their strengths.

"And I think England can and should do that.

"The first Test in New Zealand last summer England took a mixed team and just got stuck into the All Blacks, and made them look ordinary.

"England probably should have won that game.

"How did they do it? With set-piece, (they) went hard at the breakdown and made New Zealand struggle for every bit of possession.

"The two weeks after that we decided to play them at their own game and got beaten.

"England should just do what they do really well, we've got some very good players and I don't see why we always try to chase the holy grail of being like another side.

"It doesn't make sense to me."

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Ian Ritchie heads up the World Cup review panel, with Ian Metcalfe, Ian McGeechan, Ian Watmore and Ben Kay completing the quorum.

Leicester director of rugby Cockerill has called on the panel to move quickly through the deliberations to boost long-term progress, whatever the eventual findings.

"What's done is done, isn't it?" said Cockerill.

"If a change needs to be made that's up to them.

"All I do know is I know our England players well and they are very good players.

"Before the World Cup England were playing pretty well, then two poor results and you're out of the tournament.

"That polarises thoughts and cracks start appearing.

"England have a lot of good players full-stop, so let's worry about getting our own house in order, reclaiming our identity.

"At Leicester we play differently from a lot of the Premiership sides.

"I have no interest in how the other Premiership sides play, we have our identity, we have our culture, we do what we do and that works very well for us.

"That's made us very consistent from year to year.

"We don't try to go to either ends of the spectrum.

"Aaron Mauger comes in, he gives me something different.

"What's good about Leicester is our history, our culture, that pins us together and it won't change.

"We build things on top of that.

"For me that's a sensible way to go about it, but I'm a pragmatist."

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