Friday, November 20, 2015

England rugby faces a long haul back

It's official – Eddie Jones' appointment has completed what has long been suspected – England Rugby have run out of ideas.

It shouldn't be a surprise. It's the same in most other aspects of their sport, and possibly even their commercial and other fields.

The country that gave the world many of their competitive sports while spreading their Empire around the world has admitted defeat. They can't do it on their own.

So what are we going to see?

Will we see a distinctive England style of rugby, a style capable of putting the good old red rose back where it belongs? Hardly.

Will we see an England united to the point where it sweeps all before it in an on-going demonstration of dominance such as the All Blacks have just completed? Unlikely.

Will England's players suddenly unleash skills, consistently and for 80 minutes, that have hitherto lain dormant allowing them to overcome all odds and enjoy a sustained period of success? Difficult to believe.


England is like South Africa. Its internal politics always let it down when it comes to the crunch.

Consider what happened to the Springboks this year, and every time they get to a vital stage of their season.

Someone with a political axe to grind emerges from the woodwork to claim race quotas are not being met and there needs to be some action to ensure they are.

It's a constant weight on their game and can't help but cause destabilisation in their side. Japan's win over South Africa this year is a classic example of that.

England are no different. They can't get their team together long enough to understand what their requirements are. What a waste of time and money it was sending their team to the high altitude of Colorado to supercharge their fitness for their campaign.

Who is advising them of this sort of rubbish? Where was the All Blacks' need for high altitude training? Where did Australia have their pre-tournament time together? At Notre Dame, slap bang in the middle of the American prairie, no altitude training there.

And then there are their clubs. It's a situation tailor-made for disaster, just like their football, just like their cricket.

In reality Wales, Ireland and Scotland are little better.

With the introduction of professional leagues, there are any number of chances for home-grown coaches to learn in the white-hot atmosphere those competitions generate.

But it is clear something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Why have none of these countries developed and sustained a coaching pyramid?

Is it down to interference from administrators and board members who think they know best?

That has to be suspected. It's all about results, yet it isn't.

How can you achieve success when everyone is sticking their oar in?

All of this without even starting to think about the role of their media in this whole charade – that's completely another story.

Sympathy has to be extended to those coaches who are being denied their right to learn at the highest levels for the betterment of the game in their regions.

Sport should be an expression of the culture of the team playing whatever game is involved just as the All Blacks represent the New Zealand style, and Brazil represent the style and flair of their country, and as the basketballing dream teams of the United States represent all that is glitz and glamour of their country.

Sadly, Home Nations rugby is doomed to be only a variation on a theme, a Southern Hemisphere theme.

What a World Cup it will be when the world's top nations come together and play rugby that best represents their respective countries. That would be the greatest World Cup of all.

But clearly it is going to be a long time coming.

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