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Alred return kick-starts England

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Simon Austin | 10:16 UK time, Thursday, 24 February 2011

Chris Ashton's swallow dive might have become the emblem of England's resurgence in this season's Six Nations, but Toby Flood's boot has been arguably as impressive.

England have a 100% goalkicking record in this season's tournament, and most of those 15 kicks have been converted by Flood.

His metronomic boot has brought back memories of Jonny Wilkinson in his pomp, and it's perhaps no coincidence that Flood has recently been working with Wilkinson's long-time mentor, Dave Alred.

"Dave has raised the bar for what we're doing," the Leicester fly-half told BBC Sport at England's Pennyhill Park training base earlier this week.

"In terms of kicking and development, he's been fantastic. He's great on the mental side as well, because he has a good understanding of what it takes. I've really enjoyed working with him."

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Wilkinson simply describes Alred as "the best kicking coach in the world".

I hadn't realised the 62-year-old was working with England again until he appeared next to manager Martin Johnson at Twickenham during the crushing 59-13 win over Italy two weeks ago.

A Rugby Football Union spokesman told me he was working with England only as a "consultant", not a full-time employee, and that he wouldn't be available for interview during the team's media sessions.

Instead I met Alred at Wentworth, where he often works with the golfer Luke Donald, and he explained he was working with England on a "temporary arrangement".

"At the moment I've committed to Johnno," he explained. "I've said 'let's get going and sort the details later'. It's all a bit up in the air to be honest, I'll just see what happens.

"The RFU have got a lot of other things crossing their mind right now, like a massive restructuring."

Alred was controversially sacked by the RFU in 2006, along with defensive coach Phil Larder and skills coach Joe Lydon. Sir Clive Woodward, who introduced Alred to the England set-up and has described him as "one of the best coaches I have ever worked with, in any discipline", was heavily critical of the decision.

The RFU made the decision after a comprehensive review of the coaching set-up and insiders suggested the coach was starting to stray from his kicking duties into areas like mental preparation and skills coaching, and even suggested he could be resting on his laurels.

One RFU board member told me Alred was "brilliant, but almost impossible to manage".
The man himself admits the decision hurt him deeply. "The way it was handled, I would be kidding myself if I didn't feel a little bit bitter, being assessed by people that had never seen me operate and never took the time to find out," he said.

He was subsequently replaced as kicking coach by former Bath player Jon Callard, who has now made way for Alred again in the England elite set-up. Callard is now working with the RFU Academy.

Alred was certainly busy after he left the RFU's employ five years ago, coaching golfers Donald and Melissa Reid, working with Woodward at the British Olympic Association and coaching in sports as diverse as Australian Rules Football and judo.

But it's clear that rugby, and goalkicking in particular, remain his greatest passion.
And he's certainly relished his return with England.

"It's been great working with Martin Johnson and his coaches and the players have been fantastically responsive," he explains.

So how exactly did he come to be involved again?

"I was involved in a piecemeal arrangement, working one-on-one with Jonny, and he was available for the Autumn internationals last year," he says. "But when I turned up, Jonny got injured. Toby then asked to work with me and things went from there."

The results have certainly been impressive. Alred has now been working with England since the start of last year's Autumn internationals, and in the six subsequent games the team have slotted 92% of their penalties and conversions (36 from 39).

Those stats compare favourably with last season's Six Nations, when England had just a 65% success rate (17 kicks from 26 attempts).

I should add that most of the kicks in last season's tournament were taken by Wilkinson, and that Alred had still been working with the fly-half at Toulon. But the improvement in Flood's kicking has been particularly marked.

Alred says Flood has been learning the principles that have made Wilkinson so formidable. "As athletes, you don't always get it right, but if you can have a technique where if you don't get it right it STILL goes over, you're much better off," he says.

"That's basically what I've done with Toby, which is what I still do with Jonny. His body does the aiming and his leg is less dominant. It's similar to golf, where there are two parallel lines - one where the body turns towards the target, the other where the ball goes.

"If you apply that to goalkicking and you find that you aim with the body, it still goes over."

Alred says he has long been "fascinated with the reasons why one day people can be sensational and the next perform like a dog" and believes he can apply his principles for performing under pressure to any sport.

This obsession began when he studied performing under pressure for a PhD at Loughborough University.

"I investigated anything that would help to support people performing better under pressure," he says.

Alred played American Football for the Minnesota Vikings and had a low-key career as a rugby player after returning to England in 1979.

 Luke Donald now benefits from Alred's knowledge

His coaching career began when he worked with Bristol full-back Alastair Hignell, the former BBC commentator, and Bath duo Jon Webb and Stuart Barnes during the amateur era.

Woodward recruited him as an England assistant coach, but possibly his biggest break came in 1998, when director of rugby Rob Andrew asked him to come up to Newcastle to work with a promising schoolboy called Jonny Wilkinson.

"It's still a pleasure to work with Jonny and he's still a phenomenal goalkicker, who is eager to improve all the time," Alred says. "You still hear the sighs from the opposition when he comes off the bench, players and coaches saying 'oh no, it's Wilkinson', which is a great tribute to Jonny."

Alred says he still learns new things about coaching and about goalkicking every day.
"I thought my studying and my work would lead me to some answers, but it has only ever led to more questions," he says.

"I have become more hungry for any edge and I'll work in any environment where there's pressure."

And that's a quest that seems to be serving England well at the moment.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Should be judged on results, not whether he is a difficult character or not

  • Comment number 2.

    Keith Piper

  • Comment number 3.

    I don't think it is a coincidence that the man who helped Johnny to to the top of the world has been working with Flood and we are now seeing a dramatic improvement in not just his goal kicking but his all round play too. Let's hope the RFU offer him a job again, my view is that there are too many people stuck in their ways there though and won't acknowledge they made a mistake getting rid of him. We'll see. I think this world cup can't come soon enough for me, we are starting to see the belief and enjoyment back in the players. You could tell we were stuck in a rut when Borthwick made those stupid comments after the Italy game last year when we scraped a win and he said it was a fantastic win. Compare those with Greenwood's comments having just beaten France in Paris in 2002 or 3 when we'd won 25-12 but he was annoyed that they hadn't played well. I can feel our swagger and grit starting to come back...watch out the southern hemisphere.

  • Comment number 4.

    Might the FA possibly employ him next time England reach a major football tournament? If anyone can make an Englishman score a penalty, Alred sounds a likely candidate

  • Comment number 5.

    Yet another article about English rugby following on from yesterday's blog by Tom Fordyce's "Inside the Heart of a Rugby International" (which was admittedly brilliant) and 2 articles today on Chris Ashton.

    Do the BBC sports writers realise that there are 3 other British teams playing in the 6 Nations tournament? Perhaps this website should be renamed EBC Sport instead of BBC Sport...

  • Comment number 6.

    Wind your neck in Stbobulus, we'd love to have an English rugby programme to rival Scrum V but it's BBC Wales who get the benefit of that. Maybe the if the Scottish and Northern Irish journo's got off their backside and investigated and wrote something worthwhile then they'd post that on here as well.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Re 5,6 and 7. Once again its the same old story, England have won a couple of games and suddenly nobody else gets a look in. The BBC media machine is so Anglo-centric and so over the top it beggars belief i daresay you'll be odds on for the world cup as the Grand Slam is already in the bag!!!! I have no idea why its called the BBC......

  • Comment number 9.

    this is a great article showing the truth about the english kicking abilities and where our strength was in 2003 and how the 10/kicker can influence the england team to belief.
    there is no doubt that Alred has great connection with the english team, and it would be stupid of the Martin Johnson and Rob Andrew not to give him job... wouldnt it?

  • Comment number 10.

    Bear7657

    stbobulus


    Living in Wales I can confirm that there are far worse examples of unbalanced journalism

  • Comment number 11.

    Why do the Celts read the blogs on English rugby just to complain - don't get it - just go and read some drivel spouted by Gatland or why it's taken Kidney so long to realize Ireland play better with O'G @10 or why Scotland are about as consistent as their summers.

    Don't get it if I'm not interested I don't read the blog.

  • Comment number 12.

    The message board seems to have morphed into a discussion on BBC bias (or ECB as some posters have so wittily put it). The form team is England, far more so than the Scots, Welsh, Irish and Italians, so they get written about. In fairness, France have been just as good/ better than Eng, but let's face it how many of the French public will be logging onto an English language site, let alone the state media outlet of les rosbifs, so to discount them as a readership seems reasonable.

  • Comment number 13.

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

  • Comment number 14.

    Re 11, are you backward? This is meant to be the British Broadcasting Company, the point being that it would be good to see Blogs relating to other nations other than England once in a while.

  • Comment number 15.

    AlexCricket, I would fundamentally disagree that we play better with ROG at 10. The difference seems to be at the moment Sexton is clearly being told to run everything, whereas ROG is being sent on with 20 minutes to go with instructions to play the percentages.

    Aside from tactical kicking, Sexton is superior to ROG in near enough everyway - not nearly in defence meaning our flankers can do their jobs rather than babysitting ROG.

    Would like to see Sexton given a go with a 9 with a quick pass rather meerkat O'Leary. The Reddan-Sexton-D'Arcy-BOD axis is currently dominating Europe club wise - unleash it for Ireland!

  • Comment number 16.

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

  • Comment number 17.

    so happy to hear alred is back. anyone that has read articles or books by the likes of johnno or wilkinson know how special he is. i also love how completely bonkers he is. it's no coincidence that england's best periods in the last 2 decades have involved him.

  • Comment number 18.

    Re all the anti-English posts, stbobulus in particular: maybe if the other nations were doing/have ever done anything worthwhile then they would generate some interest?
    We won the WC 2003, and despite the best efforts of the RFU we came 2nd in 2007.
    (Coughs)
    How did the other nations that are so bothered at not getting any attention do?
    It is inevitable, with a team that have previously risen to the pinnacle of the sport, that people will start to write about/get excited about the prospect of returning to old glories?
    Maybe if these other teams had 'old glories' to return to then they would get a look in? (I'm not talking about paltry 70's or 80's 5 nations tournaments, but taking on the rest of the world!)
    Grow up and stop whinging.
    'Nuff 'said.

  • Comment number 19.

    @Bear7657; If you want to know about the Welsh camp watch Scrum V, if you want to know about Scotland look out for John Beatie's excellent blogs and if you want an alround rugby view look out for the Welsh Bryn Palmer. The only people I can see left out are the Northern Irish and I'm sure they get their fix from the Irish media outlets.

    Its always good reading about what happens in the background of teams, their coaching and background but felt this could go into a little more detail in certain areas, however I think that Dave wouldn't want to give all his secrets away.

    Keep up the good work and don't let the WUMs destroy good blogs.

  • Comment number 20.

    stbobulus - too rude calling someone a dumbass, regardless of what you think. A small tip, if you have to do it, you have to be squeaky clean -check your spelling of Lansdowne Road.

    I agree totally that more should be written about the other British Isles teams in the Six Nations on this website. Beattie and Cotter cover rugby from a Scottish point of view on this website, but there is a distinct lack of coverage for Wales and Ireland. Whilst the southern part of Ireland is not covered by the BBC, the north is and the Irish team is after all a union of north and south.

  • Comment number 21.

    Firstly the article:

    This is a ludicrously tenuous article. To suggest Alred has somehow kickstarted England's 'rebirth' is bonkers. Flood has always been in the high percentages and is for Leicester. But more importantly, the last awful 8 years was hardly a result of bad goal kicking.

    It was partly down to aimless kicking in open play - solved because of the rule changes.

    And if anyone wants to check, most of our kicks in open play are still aimless or fairly nondescript - its just we don't do it much anymore - thankfully.

    Finally, one good 6 nations win, a fairly mediocre win, a mixed autumn series and lets be honest - we have not yet turned the corner.

    Second Point:

    How can an article on kicking invoke more anti English hysteria?

    Idiots.


  • Comment number 22.

    Tinoflyer - I think the "Kick-start the rebirth of English rugby" has more to do with a play on words than it does with a genuine attempt to state that a kicking coach has revolutionised English rugby. It was a headline to attract your attention and as you have gone on to read the article I would say that it has worked......

    All those criticising the BBC - it would be great if the Welsh, Irish or Scottish performances had given the journalists anything new or of note to write about but from what I have seen of their insipid, lacklustre rugby they clearly haven't. These are teams that have also done nothing on the world stage for a very long time so please explain why blogs - not editorial articles or reports - should be dedicated to the rugby that they play......

    Left-wing bias (not the rugby sort) on the BBC is another issue entirely....

  • Comment number 23.

    Just logged back on, what was it you were trying to say Stbobulus?!?!?

    As stated previously, if you don't want to read about England...don't read it.

    Why not write your own blogs and send them in to the Beeb, you never know...have your mum spell check them though, sounds like you need her help...

  • Comment number 24.

    @ Robert R and the rest of the anti-Celt brigade, i think a couple of wins and a half-decent Autumn hasn't proved too much yet. I admire the way in which England are playing at present, i am a student of the game and played for 30 years at a decent level and i can see there some very promising signs for English rugby. And that is just my opinion i'm affraid, your media (BBC) get carried away, some of your less knowledgeable supporters get carried away as they believe what they read and hear. Stay in touch with reality, Northern hemisphere rugby has been pretty bland for some time and i daresay we will all be a bit wiser about things in a month. I am not anti-English, i (like many others) get bored by the hype and just want to see a good game. It is way too early to be talking about the kick start of English rugby for christ sake!



  • Comment number 25.

    Surely as the largest population of Britian is English, and England are the team playing well and winning the articles should be about them? In the same way that when Wales and Ireland won the GS the articles at the time were about them? Not saying England will, but its just hypocritcal when some of the Celts (normally the Welsh) get angry that there aren't enough BBC articles on them....they have a entire TV show of there own (Scrum V) and get plenty of articles when there doing well. Besides what would you rather read, 1 v 2 with France v England articles, or Wales v Italy, which is 3rd v 6th?

  • Comment number 26.

    Any chance we can stop coming on and banging the anti English drum? Britain's population is roughly broken down as Eng 84%, Scot 8.5%, Wal 5% and NI 2.5%.

    I enjoy reading about all the home nations but the simple fact of the matter is - if less than 84% of articles / blogs / journos etc. etc. are English then everyone else is being over represented... Quit moaning.

  • Comment number 27.

    In your article you say David Alred was introduced to the RFU by Clive Woodward, this is not correct.

    D. Alred coached at Bath and was then invited to become kicking coach at Bristol where he coached Mark Tainton who himself is now a national kicking coach.

    Alred was introduced to Don Rutherford the RFU Director of Coaching in 1991-92 by the Bristol coach, who was a member of the England Player Development coaching team under Chalkie White.

  • Comment number 28.

    All the English hating on this blog!
    I'm sure when Wales last won the 6 nations the journalists on the BBC were inundating the server with articles on how they were now world beaters and that the next world cup was theres! Although i guess they didn't account for Fiji turning up to France :/
    The same applies for Ireland in 2009, at last the sages of Irish rugby finally making their experience told, a superpower in world rugby! Oh ye Italy must have ummmmm, got so much better.No disrespect to Italy, love those guys! So close to being a really top class team.
    As for Scotland? There's not much is there. When you beat us at your place a couple of years back, no doubt this was seen by many as a tactical masterclass, something must be looking up, then its back to normal.
    I know it seems like i'm rambling, but what i'm really trying to say is that if you play well and you are winning, well then people will want to write about your team and look into whats going on. And the fact of the matter is England are playing better that the other 3 home nations. Now i'm not saying grand slam's in the back or the world cup's gonna be a doddle, but come on we're playing some good rugby. Just try and accept this, and if you can't then stay off these kind of blogs where i'm sure England fans would like to discuss the merits of the article and not fight it out with the rest of Britain!

    As for Alred? Genius, always liked him and i think he has helped. More of the kicking from hand has been the torpedo style, non of this kicking from the point, something which just doesn't get as much distance.

  • Comment number 29.

    @Bear7657, I think you missed my point entirely: I was referring to the people complaining about the amount of coverage being given to England, above the other nations. I’m not sure how this makes me par t of the anti-Celt brigade?
    As you stated in post 14:
    Re 11, are you backward? This is meant to be the British Broadcasting Company, the point being that it would be good to see Blogs relating to other nations other than England once in a while.
    See my original post for my response to your (and others’) comment!

  • Comment number 30.

    Let's get one thing out in the open for once and for all - Dave Alred NEVER played for the Minnesota Vikings. It's habitually reported as a true fact - and I've no idea whether this is something Alred himself started or not - but there is no record of him ever kicking for any team in the NFL. He may possibly have had a trial for them, but as you can see from the Vikings' all-time roster, he does not appear: http://www.vikings.com/team/history/alumni.html

    I hope this isn't the mainstay of the CV he presents to make him rugby's 'kicking guru'...

  • Comment number 31.

    It's no wonder that there is such an anti-english view on these blogs when people comments are:

    28. At 5:29pm on 24 Feb 2011, Rugby_101 wrote:
    All the English hating on this blog!
    I'm sure when Wales last won the 6 nations the journalists on the BBC were inundating the server with articles on how they were now world beaters and that the next world cup was theres! Although i guess they didn't account for Fiji turning up to France :/
    The same applies for Ireland in 2009, at last the sages of Irish rugby finally making their experience told, a superpower in world rugby! Oh ye Italy must have ummmmm, got so much better.
    As for Scotland? There's not much is there. When you beat us at your place a couple of years back, no doubt this was seen by many as a tactical masterclass, something must be looking up, then its back to normal.

    You have to end each example with a comment that highlights typical English arrogance, that you are so much better than everyone else.
    When(hopefully)/if France beat you on the weekend have the bloggers got a plan b about what to talk about?

  • Comment number 32.

    31 elfromgavenny
    When(hopefully)/if France beat you on the weekend
    --------------------------------------------
    is it just me or does anyone else think it just a little pathetic, not to say distasteful, for anyone - or any nation - to have no greater interest or ambition than to wish ill of their neighbor?

  • Comment number 33.

    I don't really like watching rugby. I prefer football.


    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 34.

    Alred is the best - simple as that .. just look at the evidence.
    He gives back to the game as well - He's on www.ruckingball.com doing video tutorials specifically for junior players who want to improve their technique. Looking at what he's doing with Luke Donald i cant wait to see what is advice he has for golfers to help me!

  • Comment number 35.

    I hope Wales win more than anything, that is what is vital this weekend, if that happens I can then get behind the French and hope for a double whammy. I live in England (not for too long I'm hoping) and talk about getting carried away. They beat Australia well, but then lost to SA, beat a Welsh team lacking any confidence and beat Italy. As for good kicking, who coached Neil Jenkins? It wasn't thid Dave bloke?!

  • Comment number 36.

    D Alred gave a fantastic presentation at an ECB coaching seminar in 2008 talked the audience through the kicking process and then did a demo with a member of the audience who had never played rugby. I could've listened to his ideas for hours.

    Fifeloon - he did work with Gareth Southgate but unfortunately after Euro 96. His story highlighted how a professional footballer could represent England yet only have two options 1) Row Z or 2) short pass to the play maker.

    Which beggars the question why he took a penalty against Germany!

  • Comment number 37.

    'I live in England (not for too long I'm hoping) and talk about getting carried away. They beat Australia well, but then lost to SA, beat a Welsh team lacking any confidence and beat Italy.'

    Oh please. The Welsh are far worse. If you get one victory suddenly its all alright in the valleys. You build your players up like their the best in the world yet they constantly dissapoint. You expecteded to beat England yet lost, there was a load of rubbish about winning a grand slam and in truth your best result for the best part of the last year is drawing with Fiji.

  • Comment number 38.

    Sorry to sound like a rugby nerd but Clive Woodward was nothing to do with the England setup in 1995. Jack Rowell was head coach at the time

  • Comment number 39.

    The amount of time taken to take kicks is ridiculous (and means there is a corresponding decrease in other aspects of play) - if the kicker can't take within 30 secs of it being awarded, the ref should award a tap penalty to the opposition.

    And while I'm on, do away with conversions entirely - award 7 points for a try and GET ON with the match proper!

  • Comment number 40.

    ALRED HIS A RUGBY LEAGUE MAN THROUGH AND THROUGH BUT YOU WOULDN'T KNOW THIS WHEN YOU READ THIS REVISIONIST ARTICLE WHICH IS SO TYPICAL OF THE UNION PROPAGANDA DEPT AT THE PRO-UNION BEEB

    THE ARTICLE SAYS HE PLAYED 'RUGBY' BEFORE 1979. HE DIDN'T PLAY RUGBY HE PLAYED RUGBY LEAGUE BUT THE ARTICLE ATTEMPTS TO GIVE THE IMPRESSION HE PLAYED UNION WHICH HE NEVER DID.

    HONESTLY, PATHETIC

  • Comment number 41.

    Just for info Hank13, the Vikings all time roster might be a tad wrong. They've not got quite possibly one of the best quarterbacks of all time on there (Brett Favre), so you never know, our Dave might have played!

    I'd like to say, as a keen England supporter, that yes, I would like to read more about the other home nations, but you can't blame the BBC for writing about the team that's currently ranked the highest out the four nations and that also appear at the moment to have the best chance of succeding in New Zealand. If England do get booted out early in the World Cup, I'll be cheering on the other home nations and I don't see why the rest of you shouldn't. So lets kick all this fighting in to touch (sorry, couldn't resist) and just enjoy what's hopefully going to be a memorable remainder of the six nations.

  • Comment number 42.

    Of course when any tennis event is on we don't get weeks of blogs about Andy Murray and how maybe he'll win this event. Then we'll have more about why he lost.

  • Comment number 43.

    stbobulos

    which are the THREE other BRITISH teams?

  • Comment number 44.

    Very interesting blog, but it seems that every comment these days involves stupid bickering between posters rather than an assessment of the blog itself. I'm Irish and if I want to read an Irish blog then the Irish times has 4 bloggers and can easily be accessed online. I read this article as I was not aware of the existence of this man, despite being a rugby fan. I found this article enlightening and entertaining, with a major urge of wanting to know more about this man. Stats speak for themselves and this man is obviously a very crucial component of England's recent success/rise in confidence. While hugely impressed with likes of Youngs, Flood and Ashton so far in 6 nations, I still think England need more leaders in the forward line (although the return of Moody/Croft will help there. The team is not as good as 2003, but as was shows back then if you have a steady platform and a tremendous kicker, you are set for success. Alred could be the key. ps. fascinating to see he played American football too for the Vikes. Anyone know if he has an autobiography. I doubt it somehow.

  • Comment number 45.

    "That's basically what I've done with Toby, which is what I still do with Jonny. His body does the aiming and his leg is less dominant. It's similar to golf, where there are two parallel lines - one where the body turns towards the target, the other where the ball goes.

    Can someone explain the parallel lines thing to me?

  • Comment number 46.

    Yes I noticed that there are a lot of articles on England, 4 in fact, and this is a lot, but they are all top quality and I'm just happy to have good rugby stuff to read.

    I'm very glad the BBC are finally covering the best rugby tournament in the world in the detail it deserves and not fawning over the SuperBowl. This is what they should have done 3 weeks ago, released a whole battery of articles on rugby covering all nations.

    Also look at it this way. England is a country of 50million, Scotland 5 million and Wales 3 million. Proportionately how many articles is fair?

    Also the reasons those articles are so good is because the England camp have given unprecedented access to the their players, who in turn have shown remarkable openess and honesty, rather than the usual platitudes athletes spout with a microphone in their face.

    I'm not going to cry about articles this good just keep them coming and hopefully cover the Celtic nations in this same terrific detail too, to keep us whining Celts happy.

  • Comment number 47.

    46. ScotsSevensNutjob wrote:
    I'm very glad the BBC are finally covering the best rugby tournament in the world...
    ____________________________________________
    No they aren’t :S
    Yet to see a single article on the world’s 2nd best rugby tournament, the Super15, let alone the best - the TriNations.

  • Comment number 48.

    6pathsofpein

    TriNations! You've got to be kidding?

    Same three teams play each other time after time year in year out. Some good games granted, but best comp in the world, do me a favour.

    If the Tri Nations teams played regularly in the Northern Hemisphere are you suggesting they would finish 1, 2, 3, year in year out?

  • Comment number 49.

    lookslikeacolonialchap

    The answer is hell yeah! Of course you'd get the odd year where a NH side would get into 2nd or 3rd place but that competition would be absolutely dominated by the SH sides no doubt.

    Err isn't the 6N having the same 6 teams playing each other year in year out? And you blokes hardly count Scotland and Italy do you? So what it boils down to is 4 teams playing each other year in year out.

    Put it this way, the quality of rugby played in the best game of the 3N would be far better than the quality of rugby played in the best game of the 6N.

  • Comment number 50.

    Re BBC bias; coverage of England's games feature an Englishman a Welshman and a guest from the opposing country, there might be an English presenter, or she might be Welsh with a Scottish husband; there is a Welsh commentator who also played in France and an English assessor, and a Scottish touchline interviewer.

    BBC Scotland has Scottish commentators, Scottish guests, Scottish presenters all in parallel to the main coverage in teh rest of the UK. And should one of the Scottish guests, a recently retired international, express the opinion that an Englishman could consider themselves unfortunate to have been penalised in a situation, they are interrupted and almost taken off the air.

    Now how can this not be considered biasness, when Scotland has a much higher proportion of English living there than vice versa.

  • Comment number 51.

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

  • Comment number 52.

    @ellfromgavenny, you may have quoted what i wrote but i fail to see the evidence of where there is any mention of England, that is in the part you've quoted. In the part you've quoted i'm merely stating facts! At no time in the text you yourself have quoted have i turned around and said England would have done better or England wouldn't have done this etc, just saying it as i see it.
    I think you'll find that when i do mention England I say that i don't think we're actually going to win anything, one game at a time and all that, but i guess you missed that bit? It's just amazing how far people will go to manufacture arrogance....

  • Comment number 53.

    @ naigib
    Do you actually follow rugby or do you just know about a couple of terms? Getting rid of the conversion? Don't make me laugh!!
    The whole point of the try in the original form of rugby was that it gave you an opportunity to "try" and kick the ball through the posts. You want to get rid of the conversion you might as well give the players 5 tackles to score, you want to introduce a 40 20 as well?

  • Comment number 54.

    Returned to fight my corner . . .

    Firstly I'd like to say I read this blog as I thought - hmm interesting England have got back the kicking coach they ditched notwithstanding the 2nd highest all-time test point scorer thought he was a genius. Anyway . . .

    I am a rugby fan and often read the excellent blogs of Messrs Beatie and Palmer. I am not England centric but when I read a blog by Mr Beatie I don't moan it doesn't mention England as I don't expect it to. In Wales there's Scrum V which is something English fans would love. Here's the bit that I think makes it a bit difficult - the Wales Scotland game was an awful spectacle so it hasn't been written about much. The Irish I suppose are the only ones who get the muddy end of the stick really in terms of blogs but hopefully they are able to get news and comment via Dublin - though I have always found is heartening that a united Ireland play rugby (The Call makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end)

    Anyway enough said - let's enjoy the rugby!

  • Comment number 55.

    6pathsofpein

    To your first paragraph....the only response is delusional, you're living in dreamland.

    You would not want to be in a competition where you played England, France, Ireland and Wales every other week and then Scotland and Italy (respect to them) in the weeks in between. You wouldn't have the stamina for a start, you'd miss your six months off.

    Not sure which of the three you would be supporting but apart from SA the other two haven't come anywhere close to winning the WC in that long the highlights package is in black and white. England have consistently whacked Australia and France likewise NZ.

    Your second paragraph..well, maybe maths is not the strong point down there but no, six teams playing is not 4 and is twice as many as 3.

    Third Paragraph...ah cyclops rears its head again. Get the rose tinted speck off. Absolute rubish!

  • Comment number 56.

    #53 Rugby 101

    Captained a rugby (union) club and head coach at two, thanks. How about you?

    Aside from the waste of actual proper playing time while the rest of the team hang about getting cold while the poseur kicker takes an age to pretend he's Wilkinson - I don't see why any try should potentially be worth less because of luck as to whether it was scored near to the posts or wide out.

    I repeat - the number of place kicks needs to be reduced and the time taken to kick those that remain shortened.

  • Comment number 57.

    Thanks for your comments everyone.

    Have to say, I thought #51 spanner, you were the star post - very interesting and insightful. Thanks for verifying Alred and American Football first of all! And a lot of what you said about the way Alred has been treated by the RFU backs up what I've heard. I think a big part of the problem is that Callard is still employed as England's kicking coach, so some members of the RFU hierarchy are uneasy about Alred being back.

    But the cold facts are that Wilkinson and Flood prefer working with Alred, who is widely recognised as the best kicking coach in the world. His stats certainly back that up. And it does seem a little demeaning to make him get changed on the floor/ not give him post-match kit/ mention in the programme etc etc

    Well spotted those of you who pointed out that Woodward was not in charge in 1995. That was a sloppy error which has been changed.

    And I take on board what people have said about there being more England features than those on any of the other Six Nations teams. All I can say is that England v France does look like it will be the Grand Slam decider, featuring the two unbeaten teams, and is the biggest game of this round. Also, I am based in London, so tend to focus on the players and teams in this area. Down to time and logistics. And we do have offices in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    Thanks again for the comments

    Simon

  • Comment number 58.

    'Also, I am based in London, so tend to focus on the players and teams in this area. Down to time and logistics.'

    Now come on, the press offices at the other home unions have things called telephones. Thats just an excuse.

    These articles have been good though.

  • Comment number 59.

    Simon do you know if there have been any moves taken to get Sherylle Calder, the peripheral vision coach, back working with the English team? I remembering reading elsewhere that she's the only link between the English '03 team and the SA '07 team - and all the coverage about her I've read contains rave reviews from players - have you heard anything??

  • Comment number 60.

    hainba: Most interested by your cricket related post. Do you know if Alred was involved in the team building process that the team underwent before the Ashes?

    Simon Austin: Thanks for the article. It seems Alred is behind the scenes in much that is good! His kicking training isn't the half of it.

  • Comment number 61.

    #51 Spanner - Alred most certainly had a trial with the Vikings, but he never actually played for them. There's an admission of the fact by him right here: http://articles.philly.com/1989-08-07/sports/26148655_1_fans-rugby-american-bowl

    I think it's disingenuous for him to be presented as an NFL kicker, when he in fact never kicked in an NFL regular season game, whether or not there's a photo of him wearing NFL gear - presumably at his trial. And for journalists to report this as fact just because it has been presented as fact by him or in previous articles is lazy journalism. One way or another, Alred's CV needs to reflect this.

    #41 woundupshark - the reason Favre doesn't appear on the Vikings all-time roster is that he has not yet announced his latest retirement from the NFL. No current Vikings are on that all-time roster.

  • Comment number 62.

    Cheers hank13. Got my info from Wikipedia. Says that Favre submited retirement papers to the NFL on Jan 17th, but double checking his website, it says he hasn't retired! Open to interpretation, eh? Now. Back to the ruggers...

  • Comment number 63.

    For more of Dave's thoughts check out:

    http://alredyapp.blogspot.com/2011/02/coaching-evolution.html

    Spanner - I want to buy you a beer!

  • Comment number 64.

    How about for a start you stay on point instead of clutching at any straw that’ll give your argument some validity? Just so that it’s clear, the comparison was between the 6N and 3N not the WC. I would be more happy to argue the SH’s record in the WC at a later date.

    The only reason why we would not want to play the 6N week in, week out (let alone every other week) is due to the relative lack of competitiveness. Incidently NZ did the Grand Slam thrice in 2010, 2008 and 2005 with relative ease.

    Perhaps you fail to grasp the concept of speaking figuratively? Of the six teams that play, only four are deemed to be competitive based on the comments of the majority of your fellow NH posters/journalists/commentators. The condescension shown to those two nations is ridiculous, as you have done yourself.

    Your comment regarding the SH getting six months off shows how much you actually know about SH rugby. FYI we start at the start of February and only stop at the end of November. Since maths seems to be your strong point, I’ll leave the calculation of how many months off that equals to eh?

    Since 1999 (Australia won the WC in that year and I’m pretty sure colour TVs were around by then) Australia have played England 17 times for 9 wins and 8 losses and NZ have played France 17 times as well for 13 wins and 4 losses. Where is the consistent whacking that you are speaking of?

    Who’s the rose-tinted spec wearing cyclops now?

  • Comment number 65.

    64, Ah, I see google finally got down there!

    "I would be more happy to argue the SH’s record in the WC at a later date."

    Here's a later date:
    My reference to SH teams in the WC is by way of pointing out that when they have to front up and play consistent and differing internationals such as in the WC they are found to be just as competitive as any other nation and the results show this. There is no SH dominance (save an imaginary one).

    No one doubts the ability of say, NZ but it's one thing to prepare for a known side ad nausea and say how wonderful it all is and quite another to play in a larger league with differences as mentioned below, and WC results have found you out. By your reckoning SA will be playing NZ in the finals this year (and perhaps every other WC) but I'll bet you won't put your house on it.

    "The condescension shown to those two nations is ridiculous, as you have done yourself." Kindly show where.

    "FYI we start at the start of February and only stop at the end of November."
    Your internationals don't.

    "Just so that it’s clear, the comparison was between the 6N and 3N not the WC."

    Just so it's clear, NZ only play Australia and SA that's just two teams by comparison England would play five. Different teams,forms,styles, venue's crowds, weather etc. Stop playing two teams and thinking you're wonderful, your not. You have good sides but so does everyone else and when the big competition comes around it shows.

    Australia won in 99 true, and who did they beat? Who won the next one and was in the final after that...didn't see a Kiwi jersey anywhere near it and they are supposed to be the best of the SH.

    "Who’s the rose-tinted spec wearing cyclops now?

    Still you I'm afraid.



  • Comment number 66.

    I wish to correct and apologise for some of the comments I made yesterday which were based on incorrect / 4th hand information and certainly in no way based on anything said by Alred himself. Alred is an absolute professional committed wholeheartedly to those he works with to getting busy getting better and my comments which may be interpreted by some as this not being the case were not appropriate. He has said himself in the interview above his arrangement with the RFU is focused on 'getting going and sorting the details later' and looking at the results it seems to be working so long may it continue and sorry for the slightly over subjective interpretation of the situation.

  • Comment number 67.

    lookslikeacolonialchip,

    How you could compare a cup format competition to a league format competition is beyond me. And as per you, providing 5 of the 6 WC winners is only an imaginary dominance. Right.

    The WC is whoever is better on the day will win, you will hear no argument from me. Comparing that with a season of attrition, which is what the 6N and 3N are, is apples and oranges.

    The 3N is ad nausea and not the 6N? Give me a break. How about factoring in playing in Cape Town one week and then flying across 11 time zones to play in Christchurch the next week? You forget the vast distances that we live in. The crowds, the venues, the weather, are different in the same country let alone across all 3. You see we rotate where the games are played as opposed to every game being played at the Millenium Stadium or Murrayfield. Everything is different from the Suncorp in Brisbane to the Telstra Dome in Mebourne, from the House of Pain in Dunedin to the Cake Tin in Wellington, from Newlands on the Cape to Ellis Park at 1700 odd metres above sea level in Joberg. Styles? The only point I would agree with you on to be fair.

    Please explain the 'You wouldn't have the stamina for a start, you'd miss your six months off.' comment then because it makes absolutely no sense.

    If you are going to be perfectly unbiased, consider this question. You are Scotland, you haven’t won the 6Nations ever and you are three games away from winning it. Making the right noises about wanting to face the best is one thing but this is about winning the competition. Would you rather face, on successive weekends Ireland, Italy and England for the win or Australia, SA and NZ?

  • Comment number 68.

    6pathsofpein

    "The WC is whoever is better on the day will win, you will hear no argument from me. Comparing that with a season of attrition, which is what the 6N and 3N are, is apples and oranges."

    You've written some silly things but that's probably the best. As far as I can remember there are group and knockout stages not who's better on the day. And it's never been NZ has it.

    As to comparing it with "a season of attrition" Ha! Doe me a favour, YOU PLAY ONLY TWO TEAMS! God no wonder, you must be knackered, especially flying all that way.

    As for,

    Please explain the 'You wouldn't have the stamina for a start, you'd miss your six months off.

    you are trying to put forward a point about International rugby and some perceived SH dominance, whilst playing the same two teams time and again. I'm saying that none of those teams have played regularly in a bigger comp. Are you seriously saying that if one of the SH teams played regularly in the 6N comp they would grand slam it every year? Really? Or anything like that?
    As for time zones and naming different grounds, that's just a smoke screen to hide the fact of playing the same two teams. Imagine the conversation on the plane. "who're you playin?" "NZ" "Oh.Who're you playin next week?" 'OZ"..."how "bout the week after?" "Oh, NZ".."And the week after that?".." Oh, Oz."..."How 'bout,...aw forget it!"
    Get yourselves in a competition involving more playing nations and I might concede a point. I've never said they are not good teams by the way.

    As for your question on being Scotland........sorry, never wanted to be Scotland. If it was England in the same situation it wouldn't matter as we have beaten them all at one time or another home and away.

    In the interest of being "..perfectly unbiased" you conveniently forgot this.
    ""The condescension shown to those two nations is ridiculous, as you have done yourself." Kindly show where."

    I'll wait for evidence of my, "..ridiculous condescension."

    I fear it may be a long wait.



  • Comment number 69.

    You seem to have completely lost the plot mate. I suggest you take a deep breath and relax for a second.

    You play the same 5 teams time and time and time again. What is your point? Having 6 teams instead of 3 does not make it better. The whole argument was the quality of rugby in the 3N vs the 6N which you time and time again manage to evade. Would any neutral fan in their right mind switch over from NZ vs Aus to watch Wales vs Italy? No. Or from Aus vs SA to Ireland vs Scotland? No. Or NZ vs Sa to England vs France? No.

    “Please explain the 'You wouldn't have the stamina for a start, you'd miss your six months off.
    you are trying to put forward a point about International rugby and some perceived SH dominance, whilst playing the same two teams time and again. I'm saying that none of those teams have played regularly in a bigger comp. Are you seriously saying that if one of the SH teams played regularly in the 6N comp they would grand slam it every year? Really? Or anything like that?”

    This bit I especially liked – you've reposted it and yet you haven’t even answered the question! What does stamina or having 6 months off (still don’t get that bit) have to do with playing the same two teams? If you are talking about number of games, we play each side thrice. Since you are the mathmetician, how many games does that equal? Rhetorical question – It’s six as opposed to the five that you play up there. And it’s six games at 100 miles an hour not the schoolboy paced stuff on display in the 6N.

    “Are you seriously saying that if one of the SH teams played regularly in the 6N comp they would grand slam it every year? Really? Or anything like that?”
    Again, it’s a league competition not a cup so we wouldn’t have to grand slam it to win it would we? As to whether we would win – every single year. One of the three would win it every single year.

    “As for time zones and naming different grounds, that's just a smoke screen to hide the fact of playing the same two teams.”
    You are the one who started spouting about the difference in venues, weather blah blah and yet clearly prefer to not hear the exact same reasoning for the SH. Funny how that is.

    “As for your question on being Scotland........sorry, never wanted to be Scotland. If it was England in the same situation it wouldn't matter as we have beaten them all at one time or another home and away.”
    The argument was, again, the quality of rugby, in which case any NH team should be able to front up to any SH team in the league thus Scotlad being used as the example. England? Terrific match against Aus but got embarrassed on your own turf by the Boks and the All Blacks. Losing two out of three, at home, is not going to win you any league. Sorry.

    In the interest of being "..perfectly unbiased" you conveniently forgot this.
    ""The condescension shown to those two nations is ridiculous, as you have done yourself." Kindly show where."

    I'll wait for evidence of my, "..ridiculous condescension."

    I fear it may be a long wait.

    Not really.
    “You would not want to be in a competition where you played England, France, Ireland and Wales every other week and then Scotland and Italy (respect to them) in the weeks in between.”
    Why would you feel the need to segregate Scotland and Italy and make it a point to say ‘respect to them’? Play them in the weeks in between? Why not say ‘Ireland, Italy, France and Scotland every other week and play England and Wales in the weeks in between?’ My original point was you blokes make all the right noises about Italy and Scotland, yet when it comes down to it you regard anything other than a very comfortable victory unacceptable.

  • Comment number 70.

    #59 Odarroch - very interesting point. This piece reminded me about Calder. I visited her during the Lions tour in 2009 and was massively impressed. She has won the World cup with England in 2003 and then South Africa in 2006, and then followedthis up with victory over the Lions in 09. Her techniques are revolutionary andhave a huge impact. This is what was so good about SCW - he looked for any advantage and recruited a range of excellent coaches like Alred and Calder, not just the traditional forwards and backs coaches.

    But to answer your question, Calder is not currently involved, which is a shame for England IMO.

  • Comment number 71.

    6pathsofpein

    your posts are all subjective. An example: "Would any neutral fan in their right mind switch over from NZ vs Aus to watch Wales vs Italy? No." etc.

    So you've contacted all these neutral supporters and discussed the various tastes have you? Of course not! it's a subjective opinion given by your own cycloptic view of what YOU feel others would want. Sheer rubish and should never be in print!

    "If you are talking about number of games, we play each side thrice."

    The language is as archaic as the boredom of playing the same two teams.
    You have to play them "thrice" in order to try and make a season otherwise you'd have even more time off.

    I'm not sure you understand the words "ridiculous condescension". Not to worry, I'm sure dictionaries will get down there eventually.

    In no way were my comments ridiculous or condescending with regard to Scotland or any other team and your attempts to make the appear so fail miserably.
    The teams I mentioned were relevant to their position in the comp or thereabouts.
    You infer that others had been condescending towards them and I had joined in. Kindly show where this was and how I did it, this,"ridiculous condescension".

    As for this, "My original point was you blokes make all the right noises about Italy and Scotland, yet when it comes down to it you regard anything other than a very comfortable victory unacceptable."

    You may wish to speak to the French today! I'm sure you're suitably upset....or is that being condescending?


  • Comment number 72.

    "The language is as archaic as the boredom of playing the same two teams."

    Hilarious stuff. So how would you know it boring? Because you are the most objective person in the world? Get over yourself. Boring is how your teams play, and our schoolboys play with greater skill.

    We enjoy good, dynamic rugby down here regardless of who is playing. Incidently, dynamic is a word you might need to look in the dictionary yourself because judging by the way you guys play, it could be a concept that is entirely foreign to you.

    In no way were my comments ridiculous or condescending with regard to Scotland or any other team and your attempts to make the appear so fail miserably. The teams I mentioned were relevant to their position in the comp or thereabouts. You infer that others had been condescending towards them and I had joined in. Kindly show where this was and how I did it, this,"ridiculous condescension".

    I have already done so and whilst your comments were a tamer form of condescension, they were condescension all the same mate. It's your arrogance that prevents you from seeing it unfortunately.

    "As for this, "My original point was you blokes make all the right noises about Italy and Scotland, yet when it comes down to it you regard anything other than a very comfortable victory unacceptable."

    You may wish to speak to the French today! I'm sure you're suitably upset....or is that being condescending?"

    What does Scotland and Italy have to do with the French loss? For the record, I would actually have to care about what happens up there to be upset. I didn't watch the match and honestly couldn't care less, so congratulations on the win.

    Once again, you manage to evade the actual point which is the quality of rugby played. Instead you try further your argument with inane and irrelevant 'points'.

  • Comment number 73.

    Well not a bad weekend for DA - England beat France and Luke Donald wins PGA tournament - common denominator Dave Alred!!!

 

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