Thursday, November 12, 2015

What is it that England don't understand?

What is it about the English psyche that doesn't get it?

In all respects it seems to be, 'we can't do it ourselves, let's whistle up someone else to sort it out'.

Now they are looking for some overseas coach to sort out their rugby team. Don't they realize that the four semi-finalists at the 2015 Rugby World Cup were all coached by coaches from those countries. They didn't need a foreign coach.

Who would want to take the England job on?

There is no practical control by The Rugby Union over their clubs, so there is none of the unity in the structure of the game that most other countries enjoy.

This is a direct result of the 'We know best' attitude that occurred when rugby went professional in 1996. This, in spite of all the examples available in professional sports in Britain at the time.

Instead, what has developed is a culture that clubs come first and for clubs it is all about winning.

They don't share the constitutional demand of all national bodies that they exist to develop the game in their countries.

So while winning remains the be-all and end-all for the clubs, they import players from overseas, generally in the least productive phases of their careers, instead of nurturing home grown talent.

The result? Pre-play-offs departures from Rugby World Cups hosted on their home grounds or in the case of a similar cot-case France, a thrashing in the quarter-finals.

The evidence of the narrow benefit of this type of approach is there to see in football and cricket for starters. How long since England won the World Cup in football? 1966. How long since the won the World Cup in cricket? Never.

Now the cure-all for their rugby performances is to hire an overseas coach.

Let's remember a couple of points.

Sir Clive Woodward wasn't everyone's cup of tea. But he knew what made English rugby tick. He survived a horrendous introduction and then moved heaven and earth to get what he wanted to ensure his side won the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Lost to the game, he was replaced by one of his fellow coaches in the 2003 campaign Andy Robinson. He won nine games out of 22. Not good enough they said so out he went. Bring in Brian Ashton for the World Cup in 2007 and while they made it to the final, one prominent player said recently that for the life of him he couldn't work out how they actually achieved that.

Because they performed so lamentably in 2007 why not appoint the man who captained the team to their victory in 2003 Martin Johnson?

Right idea, but wrong time. Johnson had nothing like the sort of coaching experience necessary to do the job.

As a result the side he brought to New Zealand for the 2011 World Cup was quickly found to be dysfunctional, and they played on and off-the-field, accordingly.

But both Ashton and Johnson had win ratios of 55 percent.

Bring in a new coach, Stuart Lancaster who managed a 61 percent win ratio, and out he goes.

An interesting fact is that Woodward (in 83 Tests, 33 more than any other England coach) had a 71 percent win ratio and his two predecessors Geoff Cooke (50 Tests) and Jack Rowell (29 Tests) each had a 72 percent win ratio.

Surely that shows that the best person in charge of England's rugby should be an Englishman?

After his experience in England rugby, All Black player and selector Earle Kirton always said: "When England get it right, watch out!"

The comforting thing for the rest of the world is that in spite of all their resources England have an unfailing knack for getting it wrong.

And all the signs point to them doing it again.

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