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Tom Fordyce

England unleash cunning new plan (60)

The suburbs of Marseille, Wednesday - Hold onto your seats, for I have shock news for you: England’s plan to defeat Australia features some of the most radical strategies ever unleashed on a rugby pitch.

I’m still shaking after what I’ve just witnessed, to be honest.

But at the risk of being hung for treason, here’s the inside scoop.

What’s that? How do we know? This very morning, Le Bloggernaut was parked up mere feet away from the Stade Roger Couderc, the unprepossessing concrete bowl where England have been training.

For 45 minutes we watched slack-jawed from just beyond the touchline as Brian Ashton put his troops through their paces.

And on the basis of those incendiary three-quarters of an hour, England will be hitting Australia with the following astonishing tactics:

1. George Chuter will spend the entire game lying on his back with his bum in the air, gently wiggling his legs
2. Olly Barkley will be employed as a second left winger, with the sole task of doing keepy-ups with a second ball
3. Mike Catt will jog around slowly behind a reconfigured back line, carrying a wire basket containing eight bottles of protein drink

I know what you’re thinking: “That’s utter madness.”

But wait.

England have been practising with the wrong shaped ball

Doesn’t this tie in perfectly with Ashton’s reputation as a rugby maverick, the loose cannon of the coaching world?

Doesn’t the misfiring England team need just this sort of visionary overhaul?

Won’t the ever-cocky Wallabies be utterly flummoxed when they find themselves running out to face a completely different game-plan than the one they’ve planned for?

I for one am more than excited about this change of direction. Having seen the Aussies in action on a couple of occasions in this tournament, both Ben and I have been having nightmares about what their back line could do to England.

Just last night I was awoken by the sound of Ben gently sobbing in his bunk, tearful after a bad dream involving a 20-foot high Stirling Mortlock smashing his way through a Mathew Tait so frail he could have been made from meringue.

There is just one worry on my mind.

England’s training-ground might have stick-waving security men crawling all over it, and an impenetrable green fence around it.

But, no more than a long line-out throw away, there stands a block of flats so high that an Aussie spy could get a perfect view of what was going on.

In fact, Ben swears that he saw a mane of hair that looked suspiciously like the Swayzesque barnet of Wallabies backs coach Scott Johnston sticking out of one kitchen window.

The better news is that that grey clouds are gathering over Marseille.

While this will do nothing for Dirsy’s burgeoning man-tan (face, forearms and calves only) it could presage exactly the sort of wet, slippery conditions that England will be crying out for.

Will Matt Giteau be able to slice through England’s defence if he’s up to his scrum cap in filthy, stinking water? Will Chris Latham be as happy under the high ball if his hands are so caked in slime that he couldn’t catch a ballerina?

There is hope once again for England – oh yes…

Tom Fordyce is a BBC Sport journalist travelling around France in a camper van with Ben Dirs. Click here to search for all of Tom and Ben's blog videos.


Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 03:47 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • alastair wrote:

haha what genius though has anyone noticed that the ball in the picture looks oddly....er...round?! i swear rubgy balls were oval...is this part of the new game plan to not use our hands except for tackling?!

  • 2.
  • At 03:50 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Ney wrote:

No comments about the picture??

It must have been entertaining to see the pack muck about with a 'soccer' ball to show their footballing skills? Surely some gags there...

Has Ben had a shave yet, or does he still look like a Chuter-a-like?

  • 3.
  • At 03:53 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris Ney wrote:

No comments about the picture??

It must have been entertaining to see the pack muck about with a 'soccer' ball to show their footballing skills? Surely some gags there...

Has Ben had a shave yet, or does he still look like a Chuter-a-like?

  • 4.
  • At 03:55 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • richard clarke wrote:

message to Brian
Can we please play our backs that can run faster than the opposition?Also remember Twickenham when we lost in the final -lets play our game this time....one point will do good luck..

  • 5.
  • At 03:59 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris A wrote:

Tom you say that there may have been a Swayzesque barnet in view, whereas I can almost guarantee that Scott Johnson was seen laughing and joking with the rest of the Oz backs while that training session was going on. 1) Does this mean that they don't care what new game plans Ashton has come up with?; 2) they can handle anything that England throw at them, or 3) It doesn't matter what England do the 3/4 are not going to get any ball to do anything with? I think that they are thankful Farewell-Farrell and No-Weight-Tait are the centres and that the "rejuvenated" front row will plod along playing catch-up.

  • 6.
  • At 04:22 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • nickc wrote:

3 blogs in 2 days? Steady on chaps-you might just break into a sweat

  • 7.
  • At 04:42 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

I have a Cunning Plan

Is it as cunning as a fox that's just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University

Yes

And does this plan involve pretending to be Rugby World Champions and attacking the opposition with George Chuter's Beard so that Australia will be afraid of us and run away?

Yes

Yes well as cunning as your plan is Baldrick. I think I spot the small but not utterly insignificant flaw.

  • 8.
  • At 04:48 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris A wrote:

I can almost guarantee that Scott Johnson was seen laughing and joking with the rest of the Oz backs while that training session was going on. 1) Does this mean that they don't care what new game plans Ashton has come up with?; 2) they can handle anything that England throw at them, or 3) It doesn't matter what England do the 3/4 are not going to get any ball to do anything with? I think that they are thankful Farewell-Farrell and No-Weight-Tait are the centres and that the "rejuvenated" front row will plod along playing catch-up.

  • 9.
  • At 04:50 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris A wrote:

I can almost guarantee that Scott Johnson was seen laughing and joking with the rest of the Oz backs while that training session was going on. 1) Does this mean that they don't care what new game plans Ashton has come up with?; 2) they can handle anything that England throw at them, or 3) It doesn't matter what England do the 3/4 are not going to get any ball to do anything with? I think that they are thankful Farewell-Farrell and No-Weight-Tait are the centres and that the "rejuvenated" front row will plod along playing catch-up.

  • 10.
  • At 05:06 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Pete wrote:

Is it just me or does the footballing picture look like he's trying to do Ricky Gervais' dance from the Office? That'll help us beat the ozzies yeah....

  • 11.
  • At 05:11 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Karl wrote:

That pic explains JW's concerns regarding the practice balls being different to the match balls. Loving the blog guys and good to see you both living up to the age old tradition of no pulling on tour, or was that just me?

  • 12.
  • At 05:22 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

Can't see any WAGS anywhere ?
Thought they were mandatory at all English sporting events.

Meanwhile, I've managed 72 Ubogus in one breath.
Does this qualify me for a berth Sat night ?

  • 13.
  • At 05:48 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • jim wrote:

I cannot believe that my recently paid licence fee goes towards the costs of these blogs.

  • 14.
  • At 05:58 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • jim wrote:

I cannot believe that my recently paid for licence fee goes towards the costs of these blogs.

  • 15.
  • At 06:07 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Bill O wrote:

Madness!!!!!!
I understand and agree with Farrell and Shaw and Robinson(but on the wing with Lewsey at fullback)
But why Vickery and Regan?
Matt hasn't put a foot wrong in all his games and George hits his jumpers.
Good Luck England

  • 16.
  • At 06:37 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • DW wrote:

Scott Johnson has had his hair cut short unless he's wearing a Swayzesque wig as a disguise?

  • 17.
  • At 06:42 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • John o' the Calgary, Canada wrote:

Good gravy, this is going to be a disaster or an utter triumph. It feels like my intuition has been taken to the washing machine, and spun round and round...and now I'm very very dizzy.

Fingers crossed -- perhaps this wackiness is just what the doctor ordered. At least we HOPE that is the case...?

  • 18.
  • At 06:52 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • John o' the Calgary, Canada wrote:

Good gravy, this is going to be a disaster or an utter triumph. It feels like my intuition has been taken to the washing machine, and spun round and round...and now I'm very very dizzy.

Fingers crossed -- perhaps this wackiness is just what the doctor ordered. At least we HOPE that is the case...?

  • 19.
  • At 06:56 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • PeteC wrote:

What's the hotel situation like down there ?

  • 20.
  • At 07:15 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Fred Fred Fred Fred Fred wrote:

Maybe England have given up playing rugby and are going to give our footballers a boost in their euro qualifiers...
At least they would look better than shrek!

  • 21.
  • At 07:43 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • muffin wrote:

this england team against are going to be slaughtered by the Aussies on saturday.... really am looking forward to this!!

  • 22.
  • At 07:58 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • muffin wrote:

cunning new plan?? haha this england team against are going to be slaughtered by the Aussies on saturday.... really am looking forward to this!!

  • 23.
  • At 08:20 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • James Brittain wrote:

Obviously, Vickery wanted a football in the England camp so he can tackle with his legs!

  • 24.
  • At 08:28 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Charlie Garner wrote:

To follow up on number. 10....I reckon before the match starts, we should line up as if we were doing the "Anglo Saxon Haka" and just start doing the Ricky Gervais dance. It should surely intimidate the Aussies!

  • 25.
  • At 08:37 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Chris the drummer wrote:

JIM - you sound like a broken record complaining about your license fee going on this blog. If you look at the bbc's stats on license fee - http://www.bbc.co.uk/info/licencefee/ - you'll see that a whole 49p of your money per month goes to the WHOLE of the beeb website. As this blog is an absolutely miniscule part of that I feel that if you left your light on upstairs for 10mins you would spend more than you would on this blog.

Is it just me that finds these 'my license fee' bores a pain in the (rugby) balls

  • 26.
  • At 08:43 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Nick H wrote:

In the photo above, isn't that Ringo Starr at the back?

  • 27.
  • At 08:51 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Stuart wrote:

What was the grass like at the England training ground gents? Good quality stuff? Or could they do better??

  • 28.
  • At 09:33 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Indignant of Tunbridge Wells wrote:

Chris the drummer - couldn't agree more, as I've said before on these blogs.

Jim - the irony is that by visiting these blogs, let alone commenting on them, you justify their continued existence - if nobody read them or commented, they would be scrapped.

So thanks from those of us that enjoy them!

  • 29.
  • At 10:24 PM on 03 Oct 2007,
  • Tom Fordyce wrote:

Chris, Richard - the footballing skills of the forwards were, I have to say, an absolute disgrace - the worst thing I've witnessed since I last went down Bramall Lane. I've seen elephants with a better first touch.

Re Ben's Chuteresque beard - it's gone. We hit a rare seam of hot water at a recent campsite and he got in a right lather within seconds. Now he's got a chin like a boiled new potato.

PeteC - the hotels seem pretty busy, but with the mass cancellations from the Wales fans you should get lucky.

Dave - your 72 Ubogus - that's left me stunned. To clarify, was each Ubogu clearly distinct from the next? As I'm sure you're aware, simply chanting "Ubogubogubogubogubogubogu" contraves WUF (World Ubogu Federation) rules.

  • 30.
  • At 12:22 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Ed wrote:

I believe that on your return an official Ubogu Chmpionships should be organised, I'm sure if held at the sports cafe the great man would compete himself!

  • 31.
  • At 12:45 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • D2H wrote:

I am genuinely impressed at the heady combination of self-indulgence and (this bit is unclear) either lack of rugby knowledge or disinterest in the actual that this post displays.

If this is how highly the BBC rates rugby then I am very grateful it's shown on ITV.

  • 32.
  • At 02:49 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Sarah, Bucks wrote:

Oh come on D2H, this is supposed to be light hearted banter not hard hitting journalism (sorry boys!) so stop your whinging! If you want to find rugby knowledge there is a whole section of the website dedicated to the RWC. The whole point of this blog from Ben and Tom is to show what it'd be like for us were we to get in a winnebago and drive around France as opposed to some journos who get chauffered everywhere and sit in their media centres/commentary boxes.

As for ITV ... seriously?! They're coverage is seriously poor. Come on Beeb - sort it out.

  • 33.
  • At 06:29 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • john forrester wrote:

WGAF - 10 Man rugby is the way forward against the Ozzies. It isn't pretty but who really cares as long as we beat the Ozzies and move forward to the Semi's?

  • 34.
  • At 07:06 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Stonethecrows wrote:

You're completely wrong Tom..we've (England) fallen headlong into complacency.

We know that a certain Mr Sheridan is going to be abe to take on the entire Aussie scrum single handed and the plan is to have 14 backs lined up behind him while he does it...


Incidentally the football skills shown weren't so bad. I've seen professional footballers who can trap a ball further than they can actually kick it.

England 27 (Wilkinson 4 pens, 5 drop goals) Australia 26 or less.

  • 35.
  • At 07:33 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • john in DoobiDoo wrote:

Post No 26 it is not Ringo Starr in the background it is a resurrected Yasser Arafat sans Tea Towel.

Having seen the team list I can only hope that the England forwards can contain it or Wilkinson can kick everything he gets as a drop goal because Farrel and Co. will either drop it, knock it on or throw it away and the Aussie 3/4 will rip through.

For England to win this the rain must fall and it must be a dour (yes I am a Scotsman) ruck and maul game determined by drop goals or penalties, by the way we are good at that!

Best of luck on Saturday and I am looking forward to a similar match on Sunday against the Pumas.

  • 36.
  • At 08:17 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • ro83rtvilla wrote:

Is it just me or does Brian Ashton take this job too lightly. Would Clive Woodward have been so open to the world about his training program? More importantly would he have been constantly tinkering with positional changes? Why should Josh Lewsey have to
play on the wing? Were his recent performances at full back not satisfactory? The Aussies are going to crush us and its not because we lack the size or skills required we lack the man management.

  • 37.
  • At 08:36 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Nicholas wrote:

" Olly Barkley will be employed as a second left winger, with the sole task of doing keepy-ups with a second ball"

Using 2 balls, Not a bad idea that, esp. if Aus are only allowed to use one!

  • 38.
  • At 08:56 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Sumatra Jon wrote:

Come on guys give em hell !!

Nothing to lose - well we have actually, but I for one am please that Farrell is in at 12. Barkley for all his good rugby skills was nowhere to be seen in the tackling department against Tonga. Anyway, fingers crossed this, yet another combination, works !

  • 39.
  • At 09:53 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • julian parmenter wrote:

I presume that you have a day job other than sports journalism & i am sure it doesn't encompass humour at any stage. Having read your 'blog' i am quite frankly amazed that the BBC would let you do anything other than man the car park at Broadcasting House.

  • 40.
  • At 10:34 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • jim wrote:

Cheers for the replies to my comment. If you get pleasure from these blogs then how sad is that? Just because it's possible doesnt mean the BBC should fill up the ether with rubbish.

Oh alright it's a bit of fun and I'm a grumpy. Still think it is sad and braindead, and a waste of funding.

  • 41.
  • At 10:56 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Tessa wrote:

No wonder Carter has been complaining about the replica balls to practise on. Perhaps the cunning plan for England is to be inspired by the name of the ball and build up their Teamgeist?

  • 42.
  • At 11:01 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Huw Roberts wrote:

"...being hung for treason...".

"hanged", not "hung".

I know, I know...

Huw Roberts.
Welsh speaker.
Despairs at the way the English treat their language.
Well done Fiji.

  • 43.
  • At 11:07 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Bobby H wrote:

Chris the drummer I agree but feel Jim may well just be dropping it in now to wind up those of us who think the licence is good value - There is no defence to his moaning otherwise. Any one know who Simon Shaw talks to on his blue tooth head set?

As for Julian Parmenter - I guess having a name like that you would lose your sense of what humour is!

Keep up the good work lads.

  • 44.
  • At 11:09 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Rob Legge wrote:

I admit I have some concerns with Ashtons team selection. Personally I'd have left Sackey and Cueto on the wing, Robinson at FB and moved Lewsey up to centre, where I understand he plays for Wasps. Chuter and Stevens should have stayed in the scrum. Nevermind, there's still a chance.

  • 45.
  • At 11:10 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Tessa wrote:

No wonder Carter has been complaining about the replica balls to practise on. Perhaps the cunning plan for England is to be inspired by the name of the ball and build up their Teamgeist?

  • 46.
  • At 11:16 AM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Tessa wrote:

No wonder Carter has been complaining about the replica balls to practise on. Perhaps the cunning plan for England is to be inspired by the name of the ball and build up their Teamgeist?

  • 47.
  • At 12:07 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • mikey p wrote:

hope all you "boo" boys are happy now with latest news that Farrell gone down with hamstring injury!! for all his faults (there are a few!) tackling isn't one of them!

  • 48.
  • At 12:19 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Karen wrote:

I am loving the blogs! What I am not loving is dropping the wonderfully bearded Chuter - Regan is too old and not beardy enough. I am also not loving the continued choice of Tait over Hipkiss - Tait can't tackle.

  • 49.
  • At 01:23 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • John the Jock wrote:

Good Luck England. I think you will get stuffed but if you can keep in touch with them going into the final quarter, and with Jonny W in your side, you never know. A break away or a good bounce of the ball and you will be through. Just in case you were wondering, I think we will get stuffed as well but hope that we can make a good game of it and something unexpected happens.

  • 50.
  • At 01:41 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • john t wrote:

We do indeed need a cunning plan.
Such as :-

Is it too late to give the Argentinians British passports?

Possibly one or two of the Georgians have an English mother or father? Anything for some bulky three quarters who can take the hits and make the tackles. Oh and play with passion as well.

England always finish looking as if they could have played on for another 60mins - not like they have just given everything they have got.

That's not Ringo at the back--it's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad!

  • 52.
  • At 07:40 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Alex Dunbar wrote:

ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND, ENGLAND ......

IS THIS THE ONLY RUGBY NATION IN THE WORLD?

Shame to the BRITISH Broadcasting Corporation.

I could not care less what you think of my comments but it gets SO SO tiresome to hear about Jonny and the heroes and nobody else.

Waste of time writing this but for what it's worth, my twopence.

PS. Of course I'm a Scotsman!!!!!!

  • 53.
  • At 09:45 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • BUSHY wrote:

For the original blogger to refer to the "ever cocky wallabies" is English arrogance at its worst.

I was in Montpelier as a neutral fan to see the Wallabies play Fiji and what a sociable, friendly down to earth crowd the Wallaby fans were; as always.

It's comments in the blog that ensure all neutrals pray for the end of England's tournament.

Go wallabies !!!

  • 54.
  • At 10:48 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • charlieh wrote:

Indignant, Chris the drummer: I love alot of the BBC, but the licence fee is surely indefensible. Having worked within the BBC as an outside contractor, the institutionalised inefficiency in some but not all places is staggering ! That's my two-penneth, but like I say, let's not throw the baby out with the bath water - the BBC needs to evolve gradually.

Anyway, good luck England, hope the rugby is as entertaining in all matches as it has been in most of the previous ones.

  • 55.
  • At 11:15 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Mark in Washington DC wrote:

Here's one for bushy since he obviously hates the Brits. Your comments about ending Englands Tournament...take it you are not a neutral and are obviously jumping on someone else band wagon, namely the Aussies (who is your team by the way or have they been knocked out?). Now that is sad!

So I log on to a rugby blogsite get drawn in and start debating the licence fee - silly ! Next time I'll be sure to go to the licence fee blog for this ...

Back to the rugby: I'm not so sure that Tom's suggestions/observations aren't the best. Like a number of the beleaguered coaches, Ashton probably can't make the right choice in may people's eyes. Any of the choices could work well, or work awfully on the day. I'd go for a big strong'un at 12.

  • 57.
  • At 11:36 PM on 04 Oct 2007,
  • Jonno wrote:

...BUSHY, from which vanquished nation do you hail?

  • 58.
  • At 11:09 AM on 05 Oct 2007,
  • DickieBird wrote:

Alex - you're on the wrong page, mate. Push off over to:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/rugbyworldcup/scotland/
;-)

  • 59.
  • At 12:58 PM on 05 Oct 2007,
  • Tony Evans wrote:

"Lying on his back with his bum in the air" Damn the bearded one is more supple than a Russian gymnast who is wearing head to toe PVC. But try not to think about that to long boys as caravans are lonely places...

  • 60.
  • At 09:00 AM on 06 Oct 2007,
  • Russell wrote:

Well Lewis Hamilton was not doing so so good in the training in China looking like 4th, when he pulls a rabbit out of the hat. Today England need to pull a rabbit out the hat also and produce some some of the skill and power we know they have and have not shown us yet. Perhaps the actions in the training ground was a ruse to put the spying Aussies off what the true game will be.

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