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England's World Cup debacle rages on

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Alastair Eykyn | 12:22 UK time, Tuesday, 1 November 2011

It is 10 days since the World Cup ended and almost a month since England's ignominious exit to France at the quarter-final stage in Auckland.

Yet we are still no closer to knowing what is happening about the future of the England coaching set-up or the future of the hierarchy at the Rugby Football Union.

The RFU loves nothing better than a "robust review", even if it means pouring scorn on it once it is published. That's exactly what acting chief executive Martyn Thomas did after commissioning a report by Judge Jeff Blackett into the botched hiring and firing of former chief executive John Steele and the non-recruitment of a performance director (more on that later).

There are no less than six RFU reviews taking place at the moment. Three relate to rugby and three to discipline or standards of corporate governance.

Thomas has said categorically that the decisions regarding England manager Martin Johnson and his coaching staff will be based on the findings of an "external" review carried out by former England captain and former RFU vice-chairman Fran Cotton.

He will be assisted by two independent experts in elite performance and another former England captain, Lawrence Dallaglio. The remit is to look at the entire three-and-a-half years of Martin Johnson's regime, to assess the England performances in that time, and look at the structure of the RFU rugby department.

Down and Out. England's defeat to France in the World Cup quarter-final wasn't the biggest talking point of the tour. Photo: Getty

There are those who feel strongly that Cotton cannot be objective in his findings, as he has already been critical of Johnson's tenure in radio and television interviews.

Rob Andrew is also conducting an "internal" review of the Rugby World Cup. As head of department (his official job title is, remarkably, unclear) he will look at the style of play, the success or failure of the coaching staff and the breakdown in player discipline during the tournament.

Andrew's findings will feed into a third review, done by the Professional Game Board. This features representatives of the Premiership and Championship clubs, and the RPA (the players' union). Their noses are out of joint, because before the World Cup they were told their review would be the primary vehicle to gauge the success of the campaign in New Zealand. Their role appears to have been usurped by Cotton's review.

And so to the non-rugby reviews. There are three. Andrew and the head of the RFU's legal department, Karena Vleck, are examining each individual disciplinary indiscretion by England players at the World Cup. They will establish if any of them have broken the terms of their elite player contract, or indeed broken the code of conduct established in the aftermath of England's "Tour of Shame" to New Zealand in 2008. If Andrew and Vleck consider it appropriate, offending players may be fined or even suspended from international rugby.

And Thomas himself is the subject of a review. Charles Flint QC is looking into whether Thomas, the acting CEO, should face charges of bringing the game into disrepute, following his reaction to a report by the RFU's chief disciplinary officer, Jeff Blackett. Thomas responded to criticism of him contained in the report by threatening the Judge Advocate General with a defamation suit. He has since tried to discredit the very report that he commissioned.

The QC will report to the RFU President Willie Wildash.

The sixth and final review relates to the governance of the RFU. In the wake of Steele's sacking, and under pressure from the Sports Minister Hugh Robertson, the governing body appointed the law firm Slaughter and May to investigate the manner in which they conduct their affairs. Senior partner Nigel Boardman is the man leading the review.

All of which leaves the average England supporter utterly baffled as to what happens next.

Will Martin Johnson be in charge when the Six Nations comes around in three months' time? The delay in decision-making from the top seems to suggest that Johnson will have every chance of continuing.

If he does, who will be amongst his coaching staff? There is no way that the current incumbents will stay in place, en masse. The forwards coach John Wells and the attack coach Brian Smith are the men most vulnerable. Defence coach Mike Ford and scrum coach Graham Rowntree may earn a stay of execution.

There are four years until England hosts the next Rugby World Cup. As one Premiership coach said to me recently: "You couldn't make this mess up. The RFU is the wealthiest Union in the world, England have the most players to choose from and the best resources available to them. And yet they have absolutely no idea what they're doing. It is a complete shambles."

In the meantime, the clock is ticking. Personalities are still clashing. And English rugby is suffering.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    Still not as bad as the FA, but all the same need a real head coach and new attack and forwards coaches, with andrew gone. they should all have clearly defined roles and be experienced successful professionals. They also need to fire the whole board, and then the new board should fire the majority of the in post staff, to try and get a business sense into a gentlemans club that should have died with the amature game. The current lot would rather have a punch drunk 80's era forward calling the shots than someone who could actually make a difference.

  • Comment number 2.

    I couldn't agree more with #1. We need a proper - professional - board, accountable to the stakeholders (the English rugby-supporting public)

  • Comment number 3.

    Johnson needs to go and I think a fresh approach using actual rugby coaches has to be the way forward.
    Maybe having someone like Jim Mallinder or Richard Cockerill, both proven in the Prem working alongside Graham Henry, utilising both knowledge and experience of the English club game(w/success there) added to World Cup winning experience and experience from the greatest rugby nation at the moment(New Zealand) which could be used to improve how we produce talent to make our players on the level of New Zealand's in the future.

    -
    I also think we need to stop using the golden generation guys and move to younger, talented guys in the Prem and abroad who may not have the mental edge at the top level yet but need time, patience and experience to have that hardened edge other teams have, partnerships like Youngs and Flood need to have poor games to improve and become of a level where they can perform to a match winning standard week in, week out and lead a backline into scoring tries, which costs us on big occassions time and time again.


    We need to look at our under 30s, particularly under 25s and build around them now, build for 4 years time and encourage clubs to use their homegrown talent instead of looking elsewhere and get a consistent England team and squad using a specific talent pool of young players so there is consistency and get them playing in a consistent manner whilst with England, strong up front but with the ability to play expansive, attacking rugby, we have the pacy wingers to do it we just need to build a strong backline in the centre using these talented youngsters who don't get a look in because they aren't "established" names or too much pressure was put on them 2-3 years ago and they had a hiccup, youngsters make mistakes but they should be encouraged and nurtured not dropped and discarded in the pursuit for immediate success in a mediocre fashion.

  • Comment number 4.

    Sadly this lack of management runs all the way through the game. You only have to look at some of the decisions being taken at grass roots rugby and in the areas of the game specifically involving junior players. It is just not possible to get a straight answer out of the RFU and if you are looking for one including some common sense you'll be waiting a while.

  • Comment number 5.

    I am going to go against general mood and say MJ has done a decent job, has brought in some new blood but has also made some mistakes in keeping old guard in.

    It is not MJs fault that Sheridan was injured. Big Sher was a key part of his planning. It is MJs fault that he picked Matt Stevens ahead of Corbs at openside.

    It is not MJs fault that England have no decent no 8. Easter is now too slow, Haskell is not a no 8 and Narraway has been injured for too long. There is nothing coming through ranks either - best option is probably Guest.

    It is not MJs fault that Ben YOungs was injured and not back to best by RWC time. However it is MJs fault that scrum halves seem incapable of getting the ball out quickly, as opposed to standing there and waving arms around

    It is not MJs fault that England has so few centre options, he did at least pick Manu at OC.

    It is obvious the style MJ wants England to play - dynamic at breakdown - but it is very worrying that England time and time again fall short when bullied physically (Ireland, SA, France) up front.

    But look at talent coming through - Corbs, Marler at loose head, Lawes, Attwood at lock, Saul, Tom Wood (flanker at Exeter whose name I forget), Owen Farrell, wingers galore, Gloucester have some craking youngsters

  • Comment number 6.

    #5 : "we need to stop using the golden generation guys"

    I think England has a bigger issue with poaching mercenaries from New Zealand and the Pacific Island, rather than stealing Irish players to be honest.

  • Comment number 7.

    Well said - we've had enough. nothing less than root and branch reform will do. Anything else will lead to more painful false dawns like the last 2.5 years. With all the resources we have, we should be dominating world rugby year in and year out.

    Get the RFU management sorted and we can appoint an empowered Dream Team - Woodward & McGeechan - and get on with kicking the world's hindquarters on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 8.

    Also, #5 I'm saddened to see you resorting to blaming injuries for England's dire performance at the RWC. Plenty of other sides had a lot of injuries, not least of all World Champions New Zealand. "Big Sher" may have been key to MJ's plans, but not nearly as key as "Big DC" was to GH.

    Wales were the northern hemisphere success story, and with a sadly degraded front row and missing their key pivot and also captain and influential flanker at the business end of the tournament.

    Put bluntly : you can't blame injuries. The world cup is about having the best squad. If England failed to build depth from the largest pool of playing resources in the world, then it's their own fault.

  • Comment number 9.

    "Get the RFU management sorted and we can appoint an empowered Dream Team - Woodward & McGeechan - and get on with kicking the world's hindquarters on a regular basis."

    Like Woodward did on the "tour of hell"? or in the 37-0, 37-3 drubbing in NZ in 2003? During the 4-0 Lions blackwash of 2005? or when McGeechan similarly failed with the Lions in 2009?

  • Comment number 10.

    Can anyone explain something to me? MJ fantastic player and inspirational captain and that is fact. However, he isn't a coach. So as a manager, three things concern me. He appointed Borthwick as his captain when he shouldn't have been in the starting XV and blindly supported him for far too long. Secondly, he decided Hape should go to the World Cup, against an avalanche of criticism. He then decided, after Hape had arguably his best game for England, scoring two tries to drop him and play Flood out of position in a QF of a World Cup. Finally, he failed to manage the discipline of the senior members of the squad!
    Why is he still being considered as the way forward?

  • Comment number 11.

    what percentage of our ticket price go,s on reviews,who asked for them! we the fans did not. M.J is paid to manage the team, so we lost in the 1/4,s did any one die! lets see what happens in the six nations before the clowns shoot ourselves in the feet, we are two or three players away from a very good team. As for the behavior of the England players WHO CARES! only the press and old players who behaved worse in their day!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    GG

    We won - time to come out of the Bush and play nice.

    I'd give MJ another shot - England looked to be on the right track last year - and lots of people were on these boards about a month ago applauding how they were winning ugly just like in 2007. They were "Frenchified" for the first time in a World Cup and now know what the ABs have had to deal with ( right up to the 80th minute of the Final !)

    There does seem to be a bit of a disconnect with the RFU Board and maybe it's time to clear their decks rather than looking at the coach ( again ).

  • Comment number 13.

    Panama, merely pointing out the logic failure in the good mans post. Going back to the future has been England's curse since 2003. They simply can't afford to keep trying to go the old well again and again. Time to wake up and realise, the well went dry, the excavators moved in and bricked it up. Move on. Not back.

  • Comment number 14.

    no 8! wales were the northern hemisphere success story.

    they traveled to the other side of the world beat Ireland, and came home, what a success!

  • Comment number 15.

    Well #14, they knuckled down and won ugly at the business end when it counted most, and made it all the way to fourth spot. Not a bad effort for rank outsiders; contrast that with England who appeared to be on a Boys First Outing away from mum, and showed a disasterous lack of mental toughness or ability to graft when the pressure came on. They looked like rabbits in the headlights, fluffed their lines, they looked leaderless, couldn't find a plan B...failed to Think Clearly Under Pressure, and ultimately choked in the quaterfinals, against a team World Champions NZ beat twice, and even Tonga managed once.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think it was a few of the players who failed in the 2009 Lions Tour, O'Gara shipping nearly a point a minute for the time he was on the field (1st or second Test) and Monye's missed opportunities.

    With regards to Marler, Lawes and Attwood-not the best disciplinarary records......I agree get rid of Tindall, Thompson, Easter-then Wells and Ford. Make Wood Captain and look at some of the guys from the U20's; they had a No 8 that could play, I think it was Gray. The majority of players are not bad they are talented, they need developing as a squad.

    But until the RFU sort themselves out all the rumblings filter down. Friend of mine said Twickenham is an awful place to work at the moment, plus his jacket doesn't fit over the stab proof vest you have to wear nowadays..........

  • Comment number 17.

    @ Greyghost - my, my.. such bile.

    Woodward is a little like corporate Japan - makes lots of mistakes but learns quickly. Geech's 2009 Lions lost narrowly and with honour while Woodward's 2005 Lions were deservedly blackwashed -no comparison.

    Many of the problems in the England setup which bedevilled the Woodward years have now been rectified - conspicuously the access to players.

    For all of the above consider your diatribe rebutted. Sir CW and Sir Geech in tandem and with a group of specialist coaches under them will do nicely - provided the Augean Stables at Twickenham are cleansed. Will Fran Cotton play Hercules? Watch this space.

  • Comment number 18.

    "Woodward is a little like corporate Japan"

    Went into recession years ago and paid little interest ever since?

  • Comment number 19.

    Well number 8 & 15
    Wales win ratio was 57%,
    Wales only beat Fiji, Samoa, Namibia and Ireland!

    And they were the Northern Hemisphere success story?! What about France?!?!

  • Comment number 20.

    Repetitive threads throughout the article;

    What do these people do?

    What is the precise purpose of the review?

    Nothing will be done with the outcome.


    Will Carlings definition of them remains true.

  • Comment number 21.

    Wales also missed an average of 12 points per game with missed kicks..........was the choke reflex passed on.....just a thought.

    Agree about France-they had Burt Reynold's moustache to put up with!!!!

  • Comment number 22.

    In the land of the no-wits the half-wit is king.

    MJ made mistakes in the RWC, yet he is still many orders of magnitude more capable than the rest of the buffoons in the RFU.

    As for Fran 'hang 'em high' Cotton - words fail me. Took one too many knocks on the head in the front row.

  • Comment number 23.

    #21 : "Wales also missed an average of 12 points per game with missed kicks..........was the choke reflex passed on.....just a thought."

    Wilko missed more than that in the Argentina game alone. Why take a guy to kick goals and consistently play him when he consistently plays to kick goals? A bit too much loyalty from MJ to his 2003 mates.

  • Comment number 24.

    For 35 years I have run businesses and projects in many parts of the world also many years ago I was Captain of my local Rugby club during it's most successful year. These are some of my observations and experiences.

    1. If a business is wrong at the top eventually it will fail, however good everyone below the top may be. (Self evident with the RFU, and many businesses are run by self interested boys clubs)

    2. If you are to be successful you have to provide a fit for purpose product or service. (E.G. a Rugby club will only be successful if it keeps winning games)

    3. A successful business has to keep re-inventing itself to keep ahead or at least abreast of the competition. (I heard one pundit saying - JW always plays well against the French - and now there is talk of bringing back Woodward. That was in 2003 - we should not totally be looking back)

    4. Someone may be an excellent site supervisor but that does not necessarily mean they will make an excellent manager/director. (This may well be the case with MJ or may not be; evidence to me suggests the latter but his or anyone else's evaluation should be mainly based on the look forward and only a little on the look-back)

    5. Don't re-invent all the wheels, be prepared to look outward and learn from others' best practices (Look for example at why British Cycling has been doing so well or why Southampton football club is succeeding)

    And there is other stuff - but ultimately the key is getting the right people in at the very top - they should have all this in place anyway - but clearly at the RFU they don't - and it will be difficult moving forward when those already at the top are doing the getting! On the playing front I cannot concede that properly lead we cannot produce an English Team that is consistently up there with the very best and is a credit to us on and off the field.

  • Comment number 25.

    BBC World Cup blog debacle rages on...

    With nothing to actually blog about, the BBC writes a blog about, um...nothing.

    Why not wait until the reviews have actually taken place? Why the clamour for immediate change and comments like 'the clock is ticking'? Surely that smacks of reactionary nonsense rather than forward planning.

    This is a completely worthless blog, but quite indicative of those served up by the BBC sports journalists...is this the best we can expect???

  • Comment number 26.

    Check out Spiro Zavos's article on England's world cup. He puts failure down to one word: Arrogance. The reek of arrogance wafts out of the untouchables at the RFU HQ and is inhaled by everyone below it. From the off-field melt down, to the on-field stubbornness to adapt, to the appointments made at coach and manager, everything stems from an arrogant belief that if it's English, it must be right. A little bit of modest introspection is called for. I'm all for the reviews, but their outcomes must be heeded.

  • Comment number 27.

    Why all this arguing and introspection when the solutions are so obvious?

    Fact 1 The RFU is the richest organisation in the Rugby world.

    Fact 2 Players can qualify to play for England with 3 years residency.

    Fact 3 There are 4 years to the next World Cup.

    Playing Solution: Organise scouting trips to SA, NZ and Pacific Isles (possibly even to Argentina and Georgia for front rowers) to recruit outstanding youngsters who will mature in 4 years. (lots of ex-England players with time on their hands would welcome a paid holiday).

    Non-playing Solution: Immediately implement a full and comprehensive review of all the reviews.

    Simples!

  • Comment number 28.

    GG&R, that's exactly the kind of forward thinking that is needed. Perhaps a review to determine whether a review of the reviews is necessary?

    Just how much of a laughing stock do you think they're prepared to make of themselves?

    I need some popcorn for this.

  • Comment number 29.

    We should select the England team by combining the collective knowledge and expertise of all contributors herein and anyone else who wants to have an input.

    1. We all select and submit our team
    2. Simply process the results on a 'most voted for' basis
    3. Voila - Easy Peasy

    That works - I guess we'd have to have some sort of filter to make sure that
    fifth columnists didn't participate to undermine us and vote heavily for 'artists', dwarf throwers, party animals, day trippers, has beens and non hopers etc - but yeah - that really works - providing they have a computer at RFU HQ!

  • Comment number 30.

    Wow. I had no idea things were this dysfunctional. Being a Bok supporter and a watcher of the SARFU, I didn't realise our administration circus could be topped. But I think England just have. And I feel for the fans, I know well how dispiriting this sort of thing is.

  • Comment number 31.

    I agree with lots of what has been said.

    No one, including the RFU, RFU coaches, MJ, etc seem to appreciate that we have a really good under 16, under 18 and under 20 system in place.

    The under 20s have reached the final of the Under 20s World Cup 3 out of the last 4 occasions.

    We have some fantastic players coming through and they need to be given the OPPORTUNITY. In fact this season's Junior World Cup has a real possibility of England winning it for the first time with half the team from last season still available.

    There are so many really good players coming through - LET THEM PLAY!

    Forget about discarding players from the senior England squad over 30, I would make it anyone over 26. It would not leave us without any experience - there would still be Croft, Wood, Haskell, Hartley, Corbs, Cole, Foden Armitage, Ashton , Flood etc.

    I would actually go younger and put in real youngsters in to the England team who gave it a lash to get the experience and for them to be ready in four years time rather than stick with players who are really good enough.

  • Comment number 32.

    I wonder if the reason why Cotton was not included in the list of members to be sacked is because he is standing or wants to stand (not sure which) for the IRB chair and any slur will obviously discredit his application. Why all but one I wonder?

    As for MJ, can't really think of anybody better for the position at present so keep him. Sure he made some mistakes but up to RWC we did seem to be making some progress.

    Rob Andrew, well if we actually knew what it is he is supposed to be doing then perhaps we could make an informed opinion, as it stands I really doubt if anybpdy knows (including him) what his job entails.

    England coaching staff do have to ask themselves some serious questions about their own performance and what exactly they have managed to impart on the players over the past few years.

  • Comment number 33.

    England underachieved but we don't need to throw the whole thing out. MJ still has class. Time to move on from players that won't be there in 4 years. Blood some new guys and stick with them. Draw a line under the RWC and build some consistency of selection from now. Things were starting to work under MJ, some good results undone by France the finalists.

  • Comment number 34.

    #23 Great sidestep on the missed points, you don't seem to want to address a point that is valid, merely deflect. I don't doubt the amount of kicks that Wilko missed, but I wasn't saying we were the team of the NH. If Wales had kicked their points they would have won the games they lost-simples

  • Comment number 35.

    We all learn from mistakes. MJ has learnt a lot and should stay. Andrews is doing a fine job and can only support MJ.

    Don't bring in a Southern Hemisphere coach who doesn't understand the English game.

    All my Welsh and Irish friends agree.

  • Comment number 36.

    Some very interesting views above me on here by some pretty clued up rugby fans. why not let the RFU read them! Next thing, last time I looked Fran Cotton was one of the most successful businessmen around, he knows a thing or two about management. MJ is under fire and rightly so in my opinion he is the manager and the buck should be there or there abouts. Rob Andrew should be gone, to be fair he should have gone before Ashton, Graham Henry doesn't offer us much we haven't got here already. The two coaches that are dire and should go are Wells and Smith. As i remember our defence was good but if Shaun Edwards is available we should get him and lose Ford but its a close call. We have some fantastic young players and I would love to see them introduced to the big game, but baby and bathwater spring to mind. Lets start the rebuild before the 6 nations and bite our tongue when it goes a bit wrong, let the new lads bed themselves in, as for the premiership coaches and their young stars "hey guys have a word" and sort them out. This is England we are following, lets have a bit of pride back, we have short memories.

  • Comment number 37.

    I say give Johnson another two seasons to build on this team. Instead get rid of those below him and more importantly above him (Andrew & Thomas) who are both ultimately responsible for the current disappointments within the England camp.

    They were responsible for dumping out Robinson, who has proven himself a good coach with Scotland. They were responsible for appointing and dismissing another good coach in Ashton. They are also responsible for saddling Johnson with the coaching team who failed collectively under Ashton.

    Set up a new coaching team below him (Mallett-Forwards, Ellis-Defence, Mallinder-Backs and Wilkinson-kicking) and let Johnson take more of a managerial role like Woodward, where he can drop in to inspire during team talks and training sessions.

    Get someone experienced like Woodward or Henry in the role above Johnson to act as his mentor.

    I also think a review of selection policy is required to move away from the staid & dependable old guard and start bringing in some new blood, maybe even drop the Saxons for few seasons which will force the hand of the RFU to cap talent at full international level.

    A lot of these decisions have been made or financially forced on the Celtic countries in recent years, and player development has picked up as a consequence.

  • Comment number 38.

    "Check out Spiro Zavos's article on England's world cup. He puts failure down to one word: Arrogance. The reek of arrogance wafts out of the untouchables at the RFU HQ and is inhaled by everyone below it. From the off-field melt down, to the on-field stubbornness to adapt, to the appointments made at coach and manager, everything stems from an arrogant belief that if it's English, it must be right. A little bit of modest introspection is called for. I'm all for the reviews, but their outcomes must be heeded."

    Drivel. Complacency doesn't always equate to arrogance. And the RFU doesn't have a monopoly on arrogance, certainly not compared to the precious, toys-out-of-the-pram, 'it's our way or the high way' antics of the NZRU.

    And is the 'inhaled by everyone below it' intended as a pop at all English rugby fans? Pointless.

    The RFU desperately needs a shake up i agree, they are useless.

    Anyway, shouldn't you be celebrating greyghost? Why don't come and join us on 606v2?

  • Comment number 39.

    The housecleaning has to happen. It has to be thorough and it has to be dispassionate. Deo volente it will be dignified and it will effect genuine and lasting improvements. It is unfortunate when a visible disparity between resources deployed and output achieved excites general comment, and the decision-makers at the top cannot elude blame forever.

  • Comment number 40.

    MJ should be re-appointed as manager. Currently England do not have any real world class players, but they do have a host of youngsters that have great potential.
    Personally I do think that some of the England squad suffer from inflated egos which is something that MJ should be able to sort out over the next four years.

  • Comment number 41.

    Regarding the RFU, the Sports Minister needs to intervene and take direct action to sort out this shambles, and get professional people with direction in place at the top or the next World Cup will be a disaster on and off the pitch for England.

    On the playing side I think we need a Southern Hemisphere coach who can develop our style of play into a more ambitious one, there seems to be more young talent out there than at any time since 2003 but Martin Johnson, much as I wanted him to succeed, hasn't got the best out of it and the team just lacks discipline both in a playing sense and an off the field one. They have taken massive steps backwards in the last 12 months and wouldn't finish in the top half of the 6N playing like they did in NZ.

  • Comment number 42.

    Get someone experienced like Woodward or Henry in the role above Johnson to act as his mentor.

    Woodward is finished in rugby union at the highest level. Henry I cannot see leaving the shores of New Zealand to take up an unforgiving role in English rugby.

  • Comment number 43.

    We do not need a southern hemisphere coach at all we have got excellent coaches in Mallinder and Cockrell who are proven at the top clubs. We also have Farrell at sarries and Edwards who are all English and could be involved in a very interesting and exciting coaching set up.

    There is a mess at the moment but the idea for the future should be to improve our style of rugby so that it is more dynamic, looking back at the world cup our attack had no pace and we now need to just attack from more depth using the power we do have.

  • Comment number 44.

    One thing to come from the world cup is that it could lead to a fascinating 6 nations, with any of France, Wales, Ireland or England in with a shout. Here's my own analysis...

    http://samhopwood.blogspot.com/2011/10/rugby-world-cup-great-six-nations-warm.html

  • Comment number 45.

    Sorry to be grim but the Ireland were the only northern hemisphere team to beat a tri nations team, whilst france did admirably in the final and with a different ref may have won, i think any northern hemisphere success stories are to be taken lightly

  • Comment number 46.

    "Anyway, shouldn't you be celebrating greyghost? Why don't come and join us on 606v2?"

    I did Hood, but I was thrown out for having opinions that differed from those of the overmasters. It's just a hug club for mutual-ratification of a narrow set of views. Hardly of forum of genuine debate. Disappointing, when the BBC manages a less restrictive membership and censors it's participants less, you must know you've failed as a forum for the exchange of ideas.

    Anyway, back to those points that Wales missed - can't help but think that they actually got ONE more than is being officially counted, and what a difference it may have made!

  • Comment number 47.

    "Get someone experienced like Woodward or Henry in the role above Johnson to act as his mentor.

    Woodward is finished in rugby union at the highest level. Henry I cannot see leaving the shores of New Zealand to take up an unforgiving role in English rugby."

    Wasn't the problem that MJ refused to have a boss in that position? He wanted to be the master of all - and with great authority comes great responsibility. He failed. Sack him and move on.

    The cynic in me sees Henry up in Europe feathering his retirement nest for atleast a couple of years - maybe through to the next RWC. I think though, as the most successful coach in the history of the game, he's proven everything he had to prove. "Time to rule off" he said, in the parlance of a high school teacher. I'm not sure he'll add any value, but I'm sure all large financial donations will be greatfully received.

  • Comment number 48.

    @ thegreyghost!!!!!!!!!!! I have never read such utter subjective drivel in my life! If you have such a strong dislike for English Rugby why comment soooo much. If you feel the NEED to comment at least engage your brain first!

    Your posts: #6 - fabricated problem.

    #8: You have totally misunderstood #5s post. He is showing how MJ cant be blamed for everything, not saying that injuries were what cost England. And really wales were the success story of NH WC? Yes they played some good rugby, yes they made it to 4th place. But they failed to win games that were there for the taking. Their only win in a 50/50 match was against Ireand, all the others they were favourites. They did well but not as well as a lot of people make out!

    #15: Yes England lost to France when they could have won, but that is hardly choking. Eng v Fra is always a 50/50, and thats 1 all for this year. And the NZ made tough work of beating them in the final, so I wouldnt count them as a soft team.

    #23: Interesting point about Wilkos kicking (dire as it was) is that in the match we lost, he only missed one kick. In all the other matches he made just enough of his kicks. I guess their was belief that when it really mattered he would pull it out. But then v France that tactic wasnt employed.

  • Comment number 49.

    @ 46

    "Anyway, back to those points that Wales missed - can't help but think that they actually got ONE more than is being officially counted, and what a difference it may have made!"

    I think the most crucial word here is "MAY". You could be right it could have made a massive difference and wales would have won against SA, then gone on to lose to Australia in the quarter finals as opposed to losing to them in the 3rd place play off. Whoopy!!

    Is there really an argument when it comes to who, of the NH sides, had the best tournament? surely its France? they got further than any other Nh side so surely they had the best WC?! simple.


    @ 8

    "Also, #5 I'm saddened to see you resorting to blaming injuries for England's dire performance at the RWC. Plenty of other sides had a lot of injuries, not least of all World Champions New Zealand. "Big Sher" may have been key to MJ's plans, but not nearly as key as "Big DC" was to GH"

    I don't think the poster is blaming these for Englands poor Wc, he is merely saying that these things were not MJ's fault. we can all say that we would have done things differently and i'm sure MJ himself would have but for you to suggest that anyone in England is blaming anyone other than the players, coaches and hierachy for Englands disappointing Wc is surely just you trying to be argumentative?!

    I think England were pretty poor from start to finish, made some mistakes and in hindsight maybe would change things, however, all we can do is learn from our mistakes and put things right over the next four years and i think MJ is the man to do that. Just my opinion though.

  • Comment number 50.

    GG...
    From what is being said localy here in NZ Henry looks more likely to be retained by the NZRFU in a consultancy basis. Don't think he is ready to retire, but also would bet my house on him not going near the ERFU.
    As a Scot I have an alterior motive for wanting MJ to remain in charge of England;-)

  • Comment number 51.

    @45 milkybar63: Tri Nations? Whats that? England beat a 4 Nations team! ;)

  • Comment number 52.

    "Is there really an argument when it comes to who, of the NH sides, had the best tournament? surely its France? they got further than any other Nh side so surely they had the best WC?! simple. "

    Well, France lost three times as far as I remember. Their ascension to the final was courtesy of a draw that pitted NH v SH in the final. They would never realistically have beaten a SANZAR team.

    Praise for France seems to be entirely based on 80 minutes in the final that NZ chose to win through defensive fortitude rather than the offensive power or explosive fireworks of which we all know they are capable.

    Let's be honest, NZ played the final against Australia and merely showed up to collect the trophy...

  • Comment number 53.

    @49 liverpaul85: Have you not learnt yet not to put your opinion in when it conflicts with someone elses!

    You are right about that point wales MAY have got. Though as the kick was so early in the game had it been given SA may still have responded and won the match.

  • Comment number 54.

    @52: You are really showing very little knowledge of rugby in that post. Did you see the final? 8 - 7 If that was NZ's way of "just collecting the trohpy" they are walking a very thin line.
    Praise for france is given due to the fact that they made it to the final. Yes they played some poor rugby but they did enough to make it there. Something only one other team did.

  • Comment number 55.

    NZ shorn of Carter, McCaw on one leg, our fourth first five, Piri with a groin injury. Kieran Read at 75% recovering from a serious ankle injury. Woodcock similarly returning from injury. Mils out with a busted shoulder, no specialist wings in the starting line up, and Kaino nursing bruised ribs....yeah they played it tight, got the lead and held it. No shame in that. France didn't offer enough to spark NZ out of their slumber in the final. NZ were playing at about 30% after playing the final against Australia the week before, whilst France waltzed into the final fresh after only despatching a 14 man Wales?

    Please, it was no contest. And thankfully for the tournament. Another 30 point blow out in the final would have taken the gloss off the greatest tournament yet.

  • Comment number 56.

    "I did Hood, but I was thrown out for having opinions that differed from those of the overmasters"

    I know, i was pulling your leg GG.

    Glad to hear you recognise that New Zealand won playing defensive-minded turgid dull-fest, dare i say it, 'English' rugby in the final. Although shame on you for not crediting the French defence, the one area of their game that stood up pretty much all tournament.

    Just a shame the tournament will be remembered (or instantly forgotten) for having such a woeful final. Nevermind.

    As for England we all know we will achieve sweet FA until by complete chance a once in a generation group of players pops up in 20 years and wins a few things in spite of the goddawful mess at the top.

  • Comment number 57.

    @ 52

    Yes France lost 3 times, but made it to the Final. Wales lost 3 times and made it to 4th. So....France 2nd, Wales.....4th and didn't they DROP 2 places in the world rankings??

    As Daverichallen has already said, wales only won the games they were expected to win. when it came down to them playing teams that they were close to beating, they couldn't step over that mark. they didn't win when it really mattered! Yes they played some decent rugby but they got exactly what they deserved, a bit of credit for playing well but ultimately, they won nothing.

    @ 53

    terribly sorry, i will try and remember to keep opinion out of this.

  • Comment number 58.

    @55: You are what gives NZ the term Arrogant. 30% really? What team in the final choses to just hold onto a 1 point lead? If NZ could they would have scored another try, or even another penalty/drop goal. I am not trying to take away fromt heir victory, they did what was needed. But France were good opponents and a little bit of ildisipline from NZ would have seen France win it.
    Wales played well with 14 men, but France just defended even better.

    I think you could be alone in thinking this was the greatest tournament ever. If France had won would your view be the same?

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 55

    Don't try blaming injuries for a poor NZ performance in the final. you tried to rip down a poster earlier for even mentioning the word injuries and now your claiming that nearly every layer in the NZ starting line up was injured?! How very hypocritical.

    How do you know that the french players didn't have injuries? surely after all those games in a short space of time there would be some niggles and strains in nearly every player so they would have been in exactly the same boat.

  • Comment number 60.

    Oh come now please. WIth the could've would've should've. NZ didn't show ill-discipline, so I don't see your point. NZ closed it out without getting out of second gear, and with a giant pile of injuries. I'm not making excuses, I have no need. We won, even with the injuries. But to expect NZ to put on a razzle-dazzle display in the final is just silly. There are no points of style in the world cup. You just have to win it. And NZ did win it.

    Frankly if Joubert hadn't been so intent on letting France score from an off-side position and eye-gouge, stamp and head-butt at the ruck with impunity, the score may have blown out. I don't know if he was under instructions to keep the game close for the sake of the tournament, but sometimes it seemed that way to me.

    Anyway, stop getting obsessed with NZ, we're supposed to be discussing the mess at RFU HQ.

  • Comment number 61.

    @ 60

    I don't any of us have been obsessed with NZ. We merely dislike your arrogance.

    I love how you keep contradicting yourself. Saying there are no points for style in the WC yet you have vilified France and England for not playing attractive enough rugby.

    And to say that the ref was on the side of France is a joke right? your being ironic aren't you?! Because of how many decisions the ABs get away with, right?! is that the joke?! Am i getting it?!

  • Comment number 62.

    @60: You have missed my point. I made one could have, and it was a minor point. NZ did well to close out the game. Big credit to them. I wasnt expecting a razzle dazzle display, I enjoyed the close game. But you are taking away all credit to the fact that France played well! Were you in no doubt at all in the last 10 mins that the result could have gone the oher way? Its a shame a NZ supporter cant give credit where credit is due!

    Refs do not control the score of the game, so to imply he was keeping the game close is just silly. I am sure NZ got away with just as much as France did.

    We would be discussing the issue at hand if you didnt make such outlandish comments!

  • Comment number 63.

    @61 It's important to form your own opinions and not merely parrot back what you are being told. Or you will find yourself wearing over priced labelled high street fashions made for pennies by children in the third world, owning an unnecssarily expensive watch, believing we're all being stalked by terrorists and that bankers, immigrants and europeans are to blame for everything Bad. A lot of people simply don't know the rules of rugby very well, most don't know them as well as a guy like the soon to be Sir Richie McCaw, so when bitter people come out and say he cheated constantly and "got away with it", what they're really saying is he played very well and hence wasn't penalised. Joubert was the most consistent ref in the tournament, but I can't help but think he was keeping the score close by letting France get away with all those ruck infringements when NZ threatened to blow out the score board.

    Anyway, back to the rabble at RFU HQ. Firstly, I'd like to see some decent qualification rules put in place. Having a bunch of guys who needed visas to get back into the country after representing England seems daft to me. No passport, no play. A good place to start?

  • Comment number 64.

    @ 63

    I will be the first to admit that McCaw is a great player. Possibly one of the best ever, but if you think that there is no part of his game where he bends (and breaks) the rules then you need to turn your computer off and go watch some more footage of him.

    don't get me wrong, he isn't the only layer to ever have done it and if yo can get away with it brilliant, just don't start complaining when other teams get away with things too. As for the Eye gouge, it was horrible and has no part inthe game, but would have been next to impossible for the ref to have seen it.

    I think you may be blinded by your love for the ABs when you say that joubert was trying to keep the score down. France played well and could have snatched it with one mistake from the ABs. but fair play to NZ, they did well and were deserved winners.

    I won't make any comment regarding your last little remark, there is no point!

  • Comment number 65.

    England won the world cup in 2003 and RFU sat back on their laurels and did nothing to kick on from their success.
    The main reason Englan won then was because of a very talented punch of players at one time who were brought together by - an at the time great manager - Woodward and his coaching staff.
    In 2007 sheer doggedness got England to the final, but still the RFU did nothing. So heading into the 2011 tournment they did not have the personnel or the coaching staff to make it past the QF. Only very narrow wins against a limited Scot/Arg allowed them to progress.
    The whole English system is not working and in my opinion the issues between club and country are still gong to cause problems. It's all very well lumping money at the clubs, but at the end of the day the top English clubs are only interested in their success and not that of the National side.
    Conversely in NZ the whole system is geared to making the test team as good as possible and you only need to look at their record in the professional era to see that what they do must have some value to it.
    The quality of players being produced on regular basis in NZ is quite staggering compared to England giving the playing numbers.

  • Comment number 66.

    @63: You are one big contradiction. You say McCaw is just playing well and yet people mona about him getting away with it yet moan about France getting away with the same thing! Please be consistant!
    You say Joubert is one of the best refs and then suggest he would risk his career over one match? Please!

    Which England players needed visas to get back into the country?
    You say you want to talk about the problem at HQ and then talk about a player problem (that isnt real). Again another contradiction!
    You either have not read or not understood the blog. I suspect the latter!

  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 68.

    Flutey, Waldrom and Tuilagi needed visas, for starters...

  • Comment number 69.

    66. GG is just yanking yer chain.
    McCaw did play extremely well in the final and as a unit NZ defend superbly in the face of a French team who took it to them big time.
    For me the right man got the man of the match and IRB world player of the year... but McCaw was a bus tickets width away from getting man of the match in final.
    Joubert for me was consistently the best official throughout the tournament and called the final very well. He let the game flow and it was more nerves and the occassion that made the match a little error strewn and tight.
    The final went right to the wire and could have got either way in the end. What more do we want as rugby fans?

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    @68 Again showing you lack of knowledge, Flutey wasnt in the team. Neither was Waldrom (though he was in NZ). Plus you make out that they needed to reapply for visas to get back into the country after the WC, I doubt it. I am sure Tuilagi has a British passport. The other two would probably have long standing visas............"as for starters" please dont make out it is worse than it is.

    And is this the only problem with the RFU? That they select players with foreign heritage? Even though it is within IRB rules? If so then every Rugby govenring body is in complete disarray!

  • Comment number 72.

    @ 69: Porridge times I completely agree with you on that post! Shame you cant convince greyghost about that too!

  • Comment number 73.

    i would love to see and england team with the same coach for the next 4 years be it MJ or whomever and that coach should be given assurances for his job so he can play a young XV and not get slaughtered the moment we lose the only way we are going to catch up with NZ AUS and SA is if we not only blood youngsters but give them time to grow into full internationals instead of deciding after a poor performance that said player should be be dropped !

  • Comment number 74.

    @73 Who would you pick for a starting XV?

  • Comment number 75.

    How very disappointing that we have now gone BCAK to the issue of players nationalities. especially from a kiwi who have poached played players from the Pacific Islands for as long as i can remember.

    Still, back to England. IMO (i know daverichallen, i shouldn't bring opinion into it but i just can't help myself!) england will not be a major force for a few years now as we don't seem to have a crop of players who look like they will gel together over the next few years. I think the base is there, but there seems to be too little flair and creativeness amongst our backs which has been a problem for a few years now. Not saying we don't have flair players, but we don't seem to have enough of them and to integrate them into a particular style of play. Is this down to the national teams coaches? Or the Manager? or the RFU?

  • Comment number 76.

    Was watching Espn classics a while ago. It was a 2002 match between England and SA. It was awesome. England played outstandingly against a superb SA team. As i watched a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. From an English pov

    1. Everyone of the players one the park was committed but more importantly they looked very competent.

    2. They had structure with flair and physicality to match.

    3. There was not a single player on the pitch who had not earned his place.

    Watching the game i could not help but feel admiration for the side. It was all about rugby then. These guys did not know how to take a backward step and the team belief oozed from every player.

    Johnno was captain. Who on that team could have made a better claim? He had proven his worth and earned his player respect.

    The coaching set up was second to none. Putting rugby first and the players second.

    So what happened after 2003?

  • Comment number 77.

    The CV's of the key people in the RFU give a clear indication why England are in the situation where they are. CW was able to wake them up but MJ appears unable to do this.

    Would a CV of a CEO of any professional organisation the size and span of the RFU state the following: "Martyn has extensive knowledge of local community needs, having farmed for many years" ?

    While agreeing that farming is important the fact that this is on the CEO's CV shows a clear lack of experaince.

  • Comment number 78.

    So what happened after 2003?

    RFU sat back thinking that the road was now paved with gold. Then the best of the punch retired. Woodward at the time was ahead of the pack, but the pack caught up and have now surpassed them.

  • Comment number 79.

    New Zealand did it virtually all of the time; Ireland did it once; Wales showed how it should be done but fell short for other reasons and England never did it at all...... Play "Grown-Up Rugby" England played "Process Rugby" based entirely on setting up rucks and the occasional maul with the hope that luck would intervene. The clearest example was the match with Scotland.

  • Comment number 80.

    It is blindingly obvious that there needs to root and branch reform at the top of the RFU, but what chance of it happening? Like it or not (not), the turkeys definitely will not be voting for Christmas. It seems that abysmal sports administration is the norm. Look at the FA and LTA. Both organisations have revenue that most of the rest of the world can only dream of, yet they both churn out dreary mediocrity year after year after year. I know that they are not directly comparable but surely someone should be taking a very close look at the setups in GB Rowing and Cycling. These sports would seem to set up to deliver excellence, with a clear idea of where they are going, developing "good habits" and minute attention to detail. I will not be holding my breath until any of this happens.

  • Comment number 81.

    "@68 Again showing you lack of knowledge, Flutey wasnt in the team. Neither was Waldrom (though he was in NZ). Plus you make out that they needed to reapply for visas to get back into the country after the WC, I doubt it. I am sure Tuilagi has a British passport. The other two would probably have long standing visas............"as for starters" please dont make out it is worse than it is."

    Hape, Flutey, Paul, sorry, I forgot which Kiwi you've got propping up your mid-field from month to month. It gets confusing when you take so many AB rejects in succession so forgive me.

    They were in the squad. And travelled into NZ on NZ passports playing for England! Of course they needed to use their visas to get back into England. The old commonwealth is dead, in case you didn't know. Just the EU citizens, and the Swiss get in a special line at Heathrow in case you didn't know...you can't be working in England, living there and on an un-visa'd Kiwi passport!

  • Comment number 82.

    "Was watching Espn classics a while ago. It was a 2002 match between England and SA. It was awesome. England played outstandingly against a superb SA team. As i watched a couple of thoughts crossed my mind. From an English pov..."

    You guys have to stop watching these old games and get your "POV" in the current decade. 2003 is gone, it's just gone. Harking back to the "good old days" won't help you. The game has changed, it's faster, more physical and more skillful now. You can't get by with the old 10-man oompah loompah that England used back then.

    Those giant fat and unfit behemoths that used to disgrace the field, waddling around from ruck to ruck a couple of minutes behind play flopping onto the side of every ruck to slow down the game have no place in the modern game.

  • Comment number 83.

    Alistair is exactly right in describing the situation at the RFU as 'a complete shambles'. The hierarchy of the RFU is full of self-obsessed, ignorant fools who only care about maintaining their (no doubt highly paid) jobs at the top of English rugby. There is not many I dislike more than Martyn Thomas. He personified my case in point when he attempted to discredit Judge Jeff Blackett's critical review of him. There needs to be an utter clearout of the upper echelons of the Union, starting with Thomas and then removing the rest of his pig-ignorant cronies!

    My next grievance is that of Rob Andrew. While Andrew has had some success in his role at the RFU with the EPS deal with the clubs, he has lacked a decisive and tough edge that is needed with the RFU in meltdown over the past 1-2 years. His job role has changed more times than I can care to remember and he looks clueless into what he is actually meant to do. Andrew is a 'yes' man and has allowed Jonhson and his dower coaching team coast over the past 3 years. We need a strong, positive and efficient person in as a Performance Director who will rule over the whole playing function within England and can govern with respect from all within England, with the Head Coach reporting into him! A certain Clive Woodward springs to mind!!!!!!

    Lastly, I would like to address Martin Johnson and his coaching team (Wells, Ford, Smith, Rowntree). The World Cup exit and off field incidents explain it all. I do have some sympathy for Johnson as I still admire his approach to the game and personality. But, I question his management skills significantly. He has allowed a shocking set of coaches (ignoring Rowntree possibly) rule the roost for the last three years while England have played uninventive, boring, stodgy rugby with results being average to poor. They have continued to pick players that are not performing and continuously overlook players who are playing fantastically well week in week out in the Premiership and Heiniken Cup! The game plan and style they have imposed has been shocking and they all need to go!! The fact we have had one win against the Southern Hemisphere big three in the past 3 years says it all!

    I believe Johnson, because of this must go along with his group of ignorant coaches. In must come Jim Mallinder (Head Coach - reporting to performance director Clive Woodward), Mike Catt (Attack Coach), Dorian West (Forwards Coach), Shaun Edwards (Defence Coach). Here is a young fresh set of coaches who have had significant success within

  • Comment number 84.

    I do not profess to be an expert but here are some views of a long time supporter:

    1. People in management positions generally appoint staff who have a similar outlook and philosophy as themselves. MJ in his playing days was very much a "keep it with the forwards until we absolutely have to give it to the backs" leader. The way in which we played in the WC seemed to mirror this approach. If he stays, what would change? New coaches would be appointed or kept who echo MJ's views.

    2.New players coming into the team seem to shine, look at how Ashton, Youngs and Foden lit up the field when given the ball shortly after gaining their first caps. This changes rapidly once they have been in the squad for a few games and they appear to be searching for the "coached in gameplays" drummed into them during time with their respective coaching sessions.

    3. There has to be a leader on the pitch, someone who can size up what is happening in the course of the game and make changes accordingly. It seems to be the view that whatever happens in the first half will be modified by MJ and his coaches during the break with that being the gameplan for the second half. Anyone who runs a business will tell you that you have to rely on leaders in the business coal-face to be dynamic and resourceful enough to make those changes in real-time.

    4. Many supporters that I have spoken to, accept that we may not have the world class players that we profess to have. fine, lets accept that and play to some pattern which maximises the strengths that we can identify. The gameplans seemed to be borne out of the view that we are best in all areas of the game, probably where the "arrogance" comments comes from.

    5. As supporters we should be prepared to accept a period where we are not going to win every game, but we will expect to see games which makes us proud to support the england team. Wales have developed this and are moving forward with everyone now looking at them as being likely winners of the 6n's.

  • Comment number 85.

    greyghost, you constantly whinge, bring up players playing for teams but born elsewhere and arrogantly dismiss the French: everything you profess to dislike. You managed to win the world cup again so why not let some of the bittnerness go.

  • Comment number 86.

    GG - talk about Rewi's Last Stand.

    Liverpaul - don't go there. The whole of the drive from the airport near Mangere up to St Heliers Bay Road was decorated with Samoa and Tonga flags, as was SH1 down to the Bombay Hills. If there were no players of PI origin in the All Blacks THAT would be the big talking point.

    As for this review, I still think England made some gains last year, played good rugby and won the Six Nations. Don't get your focus thrown off by a Tournament. Very few expected France to be in the Final after the Tonga game - let alone nearly win the thing ( but that is the nature of La Belle France ). Who seriously expected Ireland to turn over the Aussies given their form coming into the Tournament. I think Wales blindsided more than a few people as well. In the end the All Blacks won through a penalty taken by a guy who had most of us behind the couch watching the game through our fingers.

    Judge the team on longer term trends. I reckon MJ deserves another chance.

  • Comment number 87.

    The simple fact at the minute is that there is no individual job description for any role in the RFU including the head coaches role that is clear and synergistic with other key roles. Until the top organises itself clearly and appoints someone that has a vision and then recruits in line with that vision the RFU can review as much as it wants but it won't move forwards. Too much time is spent looking backwards.
    The review of the RWC is simple, not the right squad was selected in the first place, the coaches (all of them) have a very average track record and changes must be made. The simple fact that we are "waiting to see" what MJ and his staff want to do show that it is the tail wagging the dog. I can see MJ in a role as team manager, to capitalise on his leadership ability but all the caches need changing because with that will come a change in vision and hopefully a change in squad selection.
    So, sort out the top quick and first, then recruit new coaching staff and then select a new EPS. NOT - sleectthe coaches and see who they can spend the next 4 years arguing with in a power struggle.
    As for Rob Andrew, move him away from the national teams and keep him in the background.
    The one good part of the review is that Dallaglio is in it and I sense he will call it as he sees it.

  • Comment number 88.

    What about Mike Catt in the coaching staff ? Will England tempt Shaun Edwards being as his contract is now up with Wales ? What about an overseas manager who hasn't got the 'chummy' links with the old guard and who can be fresh from the internal wranglings felt through the RFU and Prem...?

  • Comment number 89.

    I'd like to see MJ keep his job - he's been slowly changing the style England play and whilst the RWC was disappointing the 6 nations was a success and I think he deserves more time. 12 months in the job (from now) should give an indication of whether or not he is willing to bring in younger players and get the team performing the way we would like to. Personally I would like to see Shaun Edwards come in as well as a new attack coach and see what the team can achieve then (I think we have some cracking players coming through).

    James Haskell playing in the Super 15's next year is exciting for English rugby, whilst I don't think he can be considered for the England team over the next 12 months I think he will come back as a better player more able to use his skill set!

  • Comment number 90.

    @ No 5 - "Dynamic at the breakdown"

    Are you having a laugh? Dynamic at the breakdown doesn't mean diving over the ball, it means quick, neat ball.

    In defence, we don't counter-ruck.

    In attack, we enter breakdown upright and static, then hold the ball at the base whilst we look around a bit before giving it to Johnny / Flood, who get nailed and then do it all again from behind the gain line. Then we blame JW or TF for not getting the backs moving.

    Have you ever seen an England runner run onto the ball with their hands in front and move the point of contact before impact, so as to hit arms and gaps rather than shoulders? No, me neither.

    Finally, we seem to think that simply 'having' the ball will make space... wrong. Watch NZ, Wales etc - 4 to 5 phases of good ball, deep runners, then re-assess, start again or put the kick deep and play territory. Simply holding the ball with one out behind the gain line passes doesn't cut it, no matter how secure or quickly the ball comes back.

    This England team needs a re-think and MJ has proved he's too stubborn to do it.

  • Comment number 91.

    I have read and re-read this blog and the comments and it seems to me that there is one blindingly obvious conclusion that is staring everying in the face:

    thegreyghost needs to conduct an internal review of his own life outlook given that his response to his team winning the world cup seems to have been to jump up and down with glee at the internal problems of England rugby's governing body. My advice: don't let your hate consume you - get out into the world, go for a beer, breathe-in the air, talk to girls....you'll feel better...

  • Comment number 92.

    @ 89 - "12 months from now... young players..."

    He's had 3 years, how long does he need?? He didn't pick foden and Ashton until they were basically the last fit back 3 in England... he didn't pick Lawes for about a season after he was ready for international rugby...

    I hope if I ever underperform, my boss will say "have another 12 months whilst we see if you can learn". Not going to happen.

  • Comment number 93.

    "greyghost, you constantly whinge, bring up players playing for teams but born elsewhere and arrogantly dismiss the French: everything you profess to dislike. You managed to win the world cup again so why not let some of the bittnerness go."

    The same old people are making the same old uneducated and annoying comments. Until they stop, I'll keep pulling them up on it.

  • Comment number 94.

    So you would rather just be boring and repeat the same boring one eyed point. Fair enough.

    Just for reference who was it that brought it up in this blog?

  • Comment number 95.

    "response to his team winning the world cup seems to have been to jump up and down with glee at the internal problems of England rugby's governing body"

    You don't think the RFUs reaction is indicative of the exact issue facing the RFU? They lose a close match in the RWC and the arrogant response is a furious uproar with the underlying message "WE are the English! It is our divine right to WIN. We merely had to dispatch a side to the Southern Colonies and retrieve what is rightfully ours! But something went wrong! It must require a review of our entire management structure!" Rather than just keeping it in perspective, realising there is no divine right for England to win, and that they were just beaten by a better side on the day? Learn from NZ's lesson. Maybe too much emphasis is placed on the RWC? at the expense of the wider game? Perhaps that is the lesson they should learn and just be a bit calm.

  • Comment number 96.

    Well the World Cup is over,we did not win, and now it seems every available coach is expressing an interest in the job.There have been mistakes, and some of these lay at the feet of certain players who let themselves and the team down. They need to remember they are not soccer players but top international rugby players.So we get another committee of whom two have spoken out about MJ, so is this bias to start with.He has not done poorly at all, and as he said the World Cup a year down the line would have produced a better result with the younger players getting more top line experience.There will almost certainly be coaching changes, but please keep MJ on as I believe he is very good,and if the RFU could only get Sir Clive on board he would get the backing he needs. The RFU have again and again failed in the way it runs the game, wrong choices of chairman ,directors of rugby and so on. This time make good solid decisions that will strengthen and support MJ as he leads England forward again.

  • Comment number 97.

    My thoughts about this:

    Keep MJ - he appeared to do a good job in the Six Nations and Autumn tests prior to the RWC, not really sure what happened at the WC with the England team but think MJ will learn from what has happened. Think Edwards would be good to also bring in and Henry in a mentoring role, perhaps a new attack coach becuase when Eng attacked (in 6 Nations) they looked really dangerous, why give this up now!

    Think from reading about (not actually knowing what is going on inside) the RFU needs a good shake up from the top as it sounds like they are a group of mates running a local club not running the most profitable union in the game.

    Also think (after playing in NZ and now the English comp) that the club scene (below premiership and championship) needs a good shake up, make teams actually have more than three reserves (from national 2 down I think) as this will reduce teams but improve the quality of the games being played - not sure where this crazy rule came from!

    Get a rugby system into some of your schools like what is done in most of NZ's top rugby schools - and get them to concentrate on skills not size, size can come later in life!

    However as an AB's fan hopefullly you do none of the above!!

  • Comment number 98.

    @ Ayrton (92),

    He has had 3 years but you have to realise where England were at 3 years ago - I know we were world cup finalists in 2007 but other than the knock-out stage of the tournament we were fairly attrocius. I do think over the last 3 years England have made good progress even though the RWC was a dissapointment.

    As for Foden and Ashton, they were slow to break into the England set-up but I think there are good reasons for that, Ashton converted from League and although he had a fantastic year in the championship (07/08) he struggled when the saints were first promoted to the Premiership (08/09). He eventually came good (09/10) and made his debut in Febuary 2010 so I think thats when he was ready for the international scene.

    Foden is similar he wasn't playing regular rugby at 15 (at Northampton) until the year before he made his England debut plus Armitige was playing well at FB. As for Lawes I would have liked to see him in the team earlier but he did have him around the squad getting settled in to international rugby scene for 12 months before hand and sometimes that is important for a players development but only the manager can decide when people are truely ready.

    I'm not defending every decision MJ has made and he certainly got things wrong at the world cup, but perhaps his employers should take into account where this team were before he started and that they are the current 6 nations champions before deciding judging him on only the world cup results. I'd like to think my employer would take everything I have achieved into account and not just my errors!

  • Comment number 99.

    I don't know why MJ would be seen as the reason for England not being as good as the team that was around 10 years ago... yes the RFU is a shambles, but the simple truth, as painful as it may sound, is that England currently lacks the best players in world rugby. It's the players that make the biggest difference to the fortunes on the field... there are promising youngsters still to come through, but are they any better than young players from Ireland, Wales & France... well, I'm not sure about that. Every country has it's golden period in rugby, only that it's just not England's time now... since 2003, Robinson, Ashton and now MJ are given the "oh we should be whopping the rest of them, it's all your fault" line... I think less over-hyped expectation and more realism should be used when discussing the current crop of English rugby players.

  • Comment number 100.

    Martin Samuel in the Daily mail hit the nail on the head in his column today. He said "Rugby: played by professionals, run by amateurs." Although he was referring to the fact that only 69 Aviva games have TMOs this season and the rest don't. I think it perfectly describes the RFU.

    To be honest I think the issues now engulfing the RFU off the field have been a problem for years. The problem is that the RFU makes too much money. As a business model and with the current management structure it should actually run up debts. But we the fans love our team. We buy the kits, merchandise and of course the tickets. TV pays a lot of money. So we assumed there were no problems. Because the RFU couldn't be badly run, yet financially successful. Sadly we assumed wrong.

    I hope that the review of the World cup and the RFU will lead to a proper clean up and re-structure. And we can look forward to an improved England team and a well run RFU. Although I won't hold my breath quite yet.

 

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