James Standley

Would Vickery absence be such a disaster? (98)

London - England’s World Cup campaign, which got off to a somewhat sluggish start against the USA on Saturday, looks as though it might take another unexpected turn.

The floundering world champions are set to be without Phil Vickery for Friday’s Titanic encounter with South Africa after the captain was cited for an apparent trip on Eagles centre Paul Emerick on Saturday.

It is hard to see how Vickery can escape a minimum of a one-game ban after the incident was missed by the referee in Lens.

Matt Dawson, England’s World Cup-winning scrum-half, says it would be a “huge blow” for England to lose Vickery.

And yet, would it really be such a loss?

There is no doubt the 31-year-old Vickery has been an outstanding player for England.

At his peak he was a fine scrummager – if not quite out of the destructive top drawer – and a powerful ball carrier who also weighed in with more than his fair share of tackles.

But three back operations have noticeably lessened the man nicknamed “Raging Bull”.

Bath’s Matt Stevens may not yet have the on-field aura of Vickery in his prime, and he is still looking for his very best form after returning from a serious shoulder problem.

The 24-year-old is mobile, explosive and a fine footballer, he more than holds his own in the scrum and, on present form, offers more round the park than Vickery.

It may be less as a prop and more as a captain that England miss Vickery.

He undoubtedly has the respect of his team and the question of who replaces him as captain is not easily answered.

Martin Corry and Jason Robinson do not convince in the role, Lawrence Dallaglio may be struggling to get in the team and Jonny Wilkinson’s latest injury means he must be a doubt for Friday.

England need players who can provide power all round the field if they are to have any chance of matching the Springboks in Paris.

A few years ago Vickery’s absence would have been a hammer blow for England, but if he is forced out of the match, will England really lose anything by having Stevens filling the number three shirt?

James Standley is a BBC Sport journalist based in London.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 08:17 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

The disciplinary hearing will do England a favour by banning Vickery. Ashton can then pick the vastly-superior Stevens without suffering the embarassment of dropping his captain.

  • 2.
  • At 08:20 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Duncan McLennan wrote:

How come France get such a nice long break between their first and second games. (5 days longer than Argentina)

  • 3.
  • At 08:29 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

I'd like to see Stevens get his chance, but it would leave us lacking a captain with none of the other obvious options guarenteed a game. How about Kay or Shaw as captain?

  • 4.
  • At 08:38 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jeremy Renwick wrote:

The obvious captain in the absence of Vickery is Mike Catt who will play.

The problem is then who leads the pack, my vote would be for Simon Shaw or possibly Sheridan as the only two guaranteed of their places.

  • 5.
  • At 08:44 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • plastic-padraig wrote:

Agree with Bas

Sad to say, but Vickery has not been able to make the same impact as before his injuries, but his "first name on the teamsheet" status as captain means that he has been keeping out a guy who is now a better player.

(Not a big Julian White fan, but I suspect one reason for his withdrawal was his limited playing prospects as a specialist TH)

  • 6.
  • At 09:00 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Glyn Jones wrote:

Who cares whether Vickery is banned or not England are going to lose anyway.

  • 7.
  • At 09:38 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Tony D wrote:


As a gloucester fan Vickery will be remembered as a great and outstandingly mobile prop BUT he is not currently a better option than Stevens.

I also understand that SA's Berger is facing a (in my opinion a harsh) ban for a dangerous tackle on a Samoan - It seems to me that virtually all of the Samoan tackling is borderline dangerous yet there never seems to be any action taken by referees during a game. We all want hard tackling but surely its time to get tough with the clothes line/swinging arm approach adopted by certain teams.

  • 8.
  • At 09:43 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

I agree there's a problem over captain. If Jonny makes it then Barkley should start at 12, so bang goes Catty. Jason, maybe? After such a dismal tight-five performance on Sat, Corry should come into the 2nd row so could lead the pack.

  • 9.
  • At 09:46 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

Glyn Jones? Welshman, perchance?

  • 10.
  • At 09:52 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • griff wrote:

Thank goodness for Glyn's sage and thoughtful comments,obviously a shrewd judge of the game!
Anyway Vickery wont be banned because it was a reflex reaction and he will receive the benefit of the doubt in my humble yet ultimately correct decision!!

  • 11.
  • At 09:55 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Julie Harper wrote:

Hi I'm not sure if this is the right place to post my question as I have not done this before but here goes anyway and I'm sorry if I have got this wrong! Can you deliberatly head the ball?

  • 12.
  • At 10:07 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

Losing Vickery would not be to great a loss, the question is why is only one player cited from the SA-Samoa match- SA players hitting every ruck forearms leading after the whistle and the constant high and dangerous tackles from the Samoans.
As usual the SH can play outside the laws of the game with no sign of punishment.

  • 13.
  • At 10:11 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • matt wrote:

I think losing Vickery could be a positive for England. Although when at his best he is a formidable force, at the moment he just isn't. Stevens will give us a far more mobile option who can get to the crucial contact areas quicker.

  • 14.
  • At 10:17 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mikey B wrote:

I whole-heartedly agree with Baz. Stevens is a far better player than Vickery. As a Cornishman myself I have been a big fan of what Vickery has done over the years for England, but he's not even a shadow of the player he was 4/5 years ago. And he's never been a great scrummager anyway.

The ban will indeed avoid the embrassment of having to 'drop the captain' and given Stevens a chance to cement the place. Englands problem is a lack of physicality at the breakdown and a lack of dynamic forward play, Stevens will improve this - probably not enough to beat the Boks - but he will improve it.

Captain has to be Worsley - plays every game, has experience, gives 100% to the cause and strikes me as a guy who will raise his game that extra 10% with the honour of captaincy. If all of the pack tackled, hit rucks and carried the ball hard like Worsley we'd be in a better position than we currently are.

  • 15.
  • At 10:19 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Koblenz wrote:

Re: Glyn Jones at post 6.

Do a lot of after dinner speaking do you? Obviously, you are a connoisseur of the game.

Who cares about Glyn Jones?

  • 16.
  • At 10:27 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Julie: yes, you can, but only if the ball's already been put in the air (otherwise it's just a knock-on). It's very uncommon, though. The ball's not really the right shape for it to be predictable enough most of the time.

  • 17.
  • At 10:34 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • AB's Supporter wrote:

I hardly think Vickery should be banned for sticking his foot out - but if he plays or not England are in for a beating against South Africa and should be very weary of Samoa. If they continue to play so poorly with little shape out wide the world champ's may not even make it out of the pool stage

  • 18.
  • At 10:53 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • James Standley wrote:

Jeremy (post 4) good shout on Catt for captain if he plays - shame for the Boks they have lost De Villiers, who would have been their inside centre on Friday.

Julie (post 11) as Michael says, yes, you can head the ball, but it is very rare.

For a fine example of just how effective it can be check out Francisco Bosch's effort on (just type his name into the search box at the top).

Bosch, playing for New Zeaand side Manawatu Turbos, is Argentine, hence the sublime football skills.

He did not make the Pumas World Cup squad, which gives some idea of how strong they have become.

  • 19.
  • At 11:08 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • nathan sealy wrote:

How about this for a shout for captain?

After the struggles with the lineout in the second half against the USA, I would like to see Borthwick replacing Kay in the second row.

As a second row with more than two brain-cells to rub together (and Bath club captain) he would be my bet to at least lead the pack and maybe captain the whole team.

  • 20.
  • At 11:09 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • R.Head wrote:

Vickery has always been a liability, whilst the at its best the game should be played on the verge of murder his actions tend to just plain stupid time and time again.

  • 21.
  • At 11:11 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • past it fullback wrote:

Answer to Julie's question "Can you deliberately head the ball?" - The IRB Laws state that "a knock-on occurs when when the ball is knocked forward with hand or arm." Accordingly, heading the ball is not deemed to be an infringement. However, in the interests of getting the ball to a support runner fast, accurately and possibly over a considerable distance, heading the ball would not be considered a clever play!

  • 22.
  • At 11:12 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Monty Hall wrote:

Farrell is starting at 12, trust me. I think he'll do a decent job too. The one thing you can say in his favour is that he's improving, which is exactly what you'd expect given that he's hardly played the game.

  • 23.
  • At 11:14 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • adam crouch wrote:

Personally, idon't think england will miss vickery! i think that there is a strong enough front row in julian white and andrew sheridan!
overall it wont make much of a difference as south africa are playing awesome rugby and should demolish us!

  • 24.
  • At 11:14 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

Mikey B - Agree with Stevens replacing Vickery but, 'Captain has to be Worsley' - the man is the most one dimensional player I have ever had the mis-fortune to watch - yes he is good defensivley, but what England need in the back row (and around the pitch) is support play, pace and ball handling skills and whilst Moody may not be my first choice, he is far more suitible than Worsley - Pack Leader should be Shaw or Kay (both played well enough to retain their places)

  • 25.
  • At 11:40 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Ian A wrote:

If Vickery goes can we call up Julien White or do we not get a replacement because Vickery is banned rather than injured?

  • 26.
  • At 11:42 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Guy wrote:

Whilst Vickery may be missed from a captaincy point of view, as a South African I would much rather he took to the field than Matt Stevens. Stevens probably offers as much in the scrum (Vickery is not at his best currently) but he offers much, much more around the park. Catt, Robinson, Wilkinson, Dallaglio, Corry or Kay would adequately fulfill the captains role. A much bigger impact is the potential loss of Schalk Burger for the Boks - although we have strong replacements Burger is world-class, whether you love him or hate him!

  • 27.
  • At 11:48 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Malcolm Fowler wrote:

Surely England have got a squad of players that don't rely on any singular player being fit & available. Vickery may be missed if he's banned for two games but he's not the only front row player that's any good. Get real!

  • 28.
  • At 11:58 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mikey B wrote:

Phil - Worsley is a bit of a one dimensional player, agreed.... but that doesn't stop him being leading by example in his physicality and commitment to the side. He does the basics right (not many England players can say that right now!) and he does what he's good at very well. He tackles hard, he carries hard and he hits rucks.... by no means an exciting 7, but he does all that is required of a 6 and I think would lead by example very well indeed.... can you say Martin Johnson was any different? He did the things required of a lock well and led by example... Ok Worsley isn't Martin Johnson, but he's that type of leader/player.

Whilst Stevens in for Vickery is a given, I would like to see Borthwick in for Kay.. much more mobile, much more intelligent player. Dallaglio has to go, he's a last 20 mins 'impact' man (like the annihilation of Wales). For me Corry at 8, Worsley at 6 and Rees at 7. Corry is a good player, but a poor leader. He is always involved in the game, a big carrier and more mobile than Dallaglio. Rees ahead of Moody, because Moody isn't match fit, his lack of discipline always costs England and he doesn't make the carries. He could again act as an impact player late in the game, I know I wouldn't like to have Lewis Moody after me late in a game when I'm tired and he's fresh.

If the Boks are without Berger we can compete in the back row (we can't if he's there) and we need to get the right balance if we are to do that.

Would somebody also please switch Lewsey to full-back, too slow for the wing, Cueto is poor one on one in the tackle. Robinson and either Sackey or Cueto on the wing for me.

  • 29.
  • At 12:06 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • darran mather wrote:

If Farrell can drive the GB RL team to victory over the Aussie RL side he can certainly motivate these bunch of muppets.

And for Wilkinson? I heard his speech in the changing room before the USA game. It was about as inspiring as a Bernard Manning concert.

The English can beat SA without Wilkinson and Vickery. Its self belief they lack.

They need big centres for this job and Catt and Farrell are the only option

  • 30.
  • At 12:16 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Alastair wrote:

Team just announced and with Dallaglio dropped (no arguments from me on that one), if Vickery goes my preference would be Farrell as captain ... Ashton has previously extolled his leadership abilities. Suspect he will go for Corry, although when the going gets tough I'm not sure Corry really provides the leadership needed - admirable though he is, this England team seem to need a bit more than just 'up and at 'em, come on boys'.

Regardless of whether or not Stevens should be in ahead of Vickery anyway, I hope he gets a reasonable lengthy ban (3-4 games would seem about right) - tripping used to be treated as a red card offence until the advent of the sin bin, and there is no place for it in the game, whether malicious or otherwise.

  • 31.
  • At 12:18 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

Can't agree with Worzle as captain, because I wouldn't start him: in a side needing more dynamism, he has to be replaced with Moody.

AB's Supporter (post 17), sadly you are right: England need to find another couple of gears to compete with SA, but will need at least one more gear just to compete with Samoa. There is a real possibility of failing to qualify from the group.

As for Julian White playing (post 23), words fail me...

  • 32.
  • At 12:25 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Cassidy wrote:

Shouldn't Namibia be able to cite referee Joel Jutge for awarding a controversial Irish try without first consulting the video ref?
Without that late score, Namibia would have been pushing forward to score a drop goal and claim their first point in this or any Rugby World Cup. What was he thinking of?

  • 33.
  • At 12:25 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Kevin B wrote:

Catt is past his best we need Hipkiss in the no12 position we need a linebreaker and tackler. As for Vickery, should not be in the squad, give Stevens a run.

  • 34.
  • At 12:29 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Nick H wrote:

It's nice to see the blog above finally uses the right word for Vickery's actions. It was a trip plan and simple, it was not a kick or a tap!! It's amazing how the English press have changed the words for Mr Vickery but would have called it a trip had it been anyone else. After watching it over a good few times in my opinion it was also deliberate and hence he should be banned for at least one game.

  • 35.
  • At 12:31 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Ieuan Johns wrote:

How come France get such a nice long break between their first and second games. (5 days longer than Argentina)


Because in 5 team groups every team must miss one round. simple really.

  • 36.
  • At 12:32 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Keo wrote:

Phil Vickery is currently an embarassment to English Rugby, he's a player simply living on his reputation and a ban can do two things to help improve the team.

1) The currently much better Matt Stevens can get a run out to prove his worth and value to the team and...

2) Maybe it will somehow give Phil a kick in the backside to pull himself together and work harder.

On the downside England lose their captain, but on the bright side there's other leaders there, the likes of Regan (Who I believe would take over), Kay, Corry, Catt and Robinson who all know what the winning the match means to their title defence (which they all took part in winning back in 2003).

I personally believe let them ban him, if anything it's doing us good!

  • 37.
  • At 12:34 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Richie wrote:

Does anyone think England will actually beat South Africa?
I just cant see it myself!

  • 38.
  • At 12:46 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Bill Mac wrote:

It doesn't matter who takes the field for England as we're shocking at the moment. We've been in decline since the last world cup and there are no signs that things are getting any better. I hoped that winning the last world cup was a sign that the divide between the northern and southern hemispheres in rugby was over. It seems to me it is worse than ever. I have lived in NZ for the past four years on a diet of provincial, super 14 and tri nations rugby. As a rugby fan I can truly say that the entertainment and skill levels (particularly in the backs) far outweighs anything we see in the Northern Hemisphere. They play positive and exciting rugby. Why is that so difficult for England to achieve??

  • 39.
  • At 12:46 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • newtfish wrote:

I tend to agree that we won't miss Vickery too much from tight play, but can't see how all the talk of a ban is justified. It was a reflex action - clumsy and unsportsmanlike but hardly dangerous. If the ref had seen it I can't believe he would have got any more than a yellow card for a professional foul, so why should a citing bring a ban? As someone else said, compared with what Samoa were getting away with routinely, it was nothing, and we haven't even seen Tonga yet.

  • 40.
  • At 12:51 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Simon Le Vaudois wrote:

Unfortunately, for the first time in my life I am not really looking forward to my trip to Paris as I honestly don't believe England can step up enough heart hopes we can but my head tells me no matter who the captain we can't get enough basics right...too many players in key positions looked slow & ponderous and perhaps a couple more should have also been replaced (Perry, Noon) things is sure for this match - we will need pace - so why no Tait?

  • 41.
  • At 12:51 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Ian wrote:

Why, oh why, does Ashton persist with Perry and, to compound our problems, Corry? They both seem to represent all that is wrong with our game - predictable, slow, unispiring and dull, dull dull.
I would love to sit Perry down in front of a split screen tv - one side showing his performance against the USA and the other showing Pichot against France. Quick witted, alive to all possibilities, great service, wiry and in control. Do tell, when was the last time Perry took a quick penalty?

  • 42.
  • At 12:52 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • kenboss wrote:

lads vickery is at best an average club player, it will help england in the long run, i wonder what acient warrior they will try to wheel out in his place- the entire england set up is a joke, how may would make the irish team, stevens at lose head and not another english player would even make the bench and that is the reality of it

  • 43.
  • At 01:00 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Alastair wrote:

Must have missed something in previous post, for some reason I thought Farrell had been picked.

Possibility of Barkley missing game through injury exposes Ashton's folly of leaving out Flood from the final squad - if Barkley is out he'll either have to run with Catt playing there, or drop either Barkley or Wilko from the squad altogether to call up a replacement (presumably Flood, or Geraghty, surely not Goode!). I have a lot of time for Brian Ashton, but that decision really didn't make sense.

  • 44.
  • At 01:02 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jon. R wrote:

Losing Vickery is not a serious blow. Loosing Barkley (apparently he is due for a scan on a hip injury he picked up in training) would be disastrous.

As for the back row, what has moody done wrong? Our no.1 problem in recent games has been slow ball, the best way to secure that is to have a mobile back row. Worsley/Corry/Dallaglio could not even spell quick ball. We need Rees, Easter and Moody. Some real pace, and a bit of nouse on the ground to get that ball back quickly.

  • 45.
  • At 01:10 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • phil wrote:

Why is Lewsey not at full back? Putting Robinson in there seems a bit of a waste. Cueto and Lewsey should have been switched round ast game. My bet would be for Catt as captain.

  • 46.
  • At 01:12 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • anglophone wrote:

I can't see Vickery avoiding a ban, it was a trip in any case, pure and simple. Without it England will have no basis from which to comment on the inevitable savagery that the SBs will unleash on Friday, and I for one always enjoy a bit of moral outrage!

It has to be said that England are not the favourites after Saturdays lacklustre debacle...or even before it. My only hope is that part of the problem may have stemmed fom the difficulty of playing a much lower ranked side and that taking on the Springboks may galvanise the team. With that, and perhaps a little complacency from the over-presumptious Springboks... who knows. Otherwise England will continue to be a team in which, mysteriously, the whole is less than the sum of the parts.

  • 47.
  • At 01:15 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • flyhack wrote:

Vickery is no great loss in my book, Stevens is more dynamic and Vickery's leaderships skills dont shine out like they did from Johnno, Dallaglio, Carling etc The pack need to raise their game or we will be swamped by SA. A big game is needed from the front row, Regan needs to prove his worth and needs to throw in well. If we dont control the set peices we will go down by 30!
So who should skipper? Had Farrell been a first choice I go for him, but his place is not secure, but nor are LD, Catt, Corry and billy whiz doesnt seem able to inspire from the wing so its wide open!
Full back is an issue, we seem to be putting sqaure pegs in, have we no-one with a kicking game and a bit of pace?

  • 48.
  • At 01:20 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Michael Artemis wrote:

How can someone expect England to win from South Africa after that dreadful display against the USA?

  • 49.
  • At 01:29 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Paulo wrote:

If Vickerey is out, best choice for captain is Catt. Maybe slower, but he has a tactical mind that no other players in this team has.

When the ball is so slow from the the breakdown, you need someone who can change the route of attack and make the other team work for the game. At the moment, oppositions can commit 3 - 4 players at the breakdown, reset their back line and take a breather whilst Perry hangs around looking for his options.

Bottom line is that unless some urgency and technical ability is introduced somewhere in this team, they will lose. Catt can do this and lets hope that others will follow his lead....

  • 50.
  • At 01:33 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • TC wrote:

I just can't see England raising their game to the extent needed to beat SA! Vickery may be a blessing in disguise.
Can't argue with LD dropped - had a mare on Sat
Sackey gives us a bit more balance in back 3 but it doesn't fill me with confidence. Back row - at least Rees is there and without Burger we might gain parity with Boks here.
Hopefully our defence will prevenmt embarrassment!

  • 51.
  • At 01:34 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • jontymo wrote:

Even as a Scot, I'm bemused as to why England are currently so bad. Leaden footed, lacking ideas, a poor scrum half, no speed of thought or on earth is it possible for nation that won the world cup 4 years ago (when they were demonstrably the best team in the world) go so far backwards so soon ?

Another example of the British sporting disease of celebrating an isolated victory and no commitment to consistently investing in building generations of talented players?

As for the Guinness premiership, how much is this to blame ? Half of the top flight players are non-English and at best many of the games are boring slugfests beween mammoth packs. Perhaps that explains why English teams are (currently) so singularly incapable of playing any dynamic rugby a la the All Blacks......

  • 52.
  • At 01:38 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

God is obviously smiling down on England.

Speaking as a proud Englishman - who is gutted to see the squad a shadow of the team that won the trophy a mere 4 years ago - I'm glad that the injuries and suspensions might just give us enough excuses to console ourselves with as we splutter to a QF exit.

  • 53.
  • At 01:40 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • TC wrote:

I just can't see England raising their game to the extent needed to beat SA! Vickery may be a blessing in disguise.
Can't argue with LD dropped - had a mare on Sat
Sackey gives us a bit more balance in back 3 but it doesn't fill me with confidence. Back row - at least Rees is there and without Burger we might gain parity with Boks here.
Hopefully our defence will prevenmt embarrassment!

  • 54.
  • At 01:42 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Giles wrote:

Tait and Hipkiss are ill otherwise I think Tait would have played at outside centre but it looks like it will now be Catt Farrell and Noon, hard hitting midfield but slow and dull, maybe the only way we can beat South Africa to be fair...

why do we bother trying to play 15 man rugby now, we never have been able to play it in the past - you need 4 years to do that so we might as well pick bulk in midfield and kick for the corenrs playing 10 man rugby. Not pretty but our only real chance lets face it. I also agree Corry is awful in the back row at this level and Moody should be playing at 6, Corry could play ahead of Kay though at 4.
Not sure about Perry - he can be awesome as he showed in the warm up games but was poor on Saturday, think the England team weren't up for it as they have all set their minds on this SA game like they did in the last world cup...

  • 55.
  • At 01:52 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • matt wrote:

Glyn Jones? Your probably right about the result. Luckily wales are there to sort the South africans out later. ERR...

  • 56.
  • At 02:01 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Bas Horneman wrote:

@Michael Artemis :
Even as a bok supporter I have to say that England can beat South Africa. Argentina beat France. And Australia outwitted the AB's in last wc. Anything can be done with the right game plan. It is very easy to push the bok's buttons. And you know exactly how they play. Referee's also love sending off South African players. Who knows you might get lucky. Odds are you won't...but I would not put more than 10 euro's on it.

  • 57.
  • At 02:02 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

It will make no difference whether Vickery plays. England will lose handsomely either way.

  • 58.
  • At 02:03 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Guy M wrote:

I hope Barkley is fit as he was probably England's outstanding player on saturday against the US.

I am glad to see Easter in at 8 - he was one of the few players on the SA tour to take it to the Boks. He wasn't afraid to fight fire with fire and he'll need to play the game of his life on Friday if England are to have any chance. That pretty much goes for every England player though...

  • 59.
  • At 02:06 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Guy Thompson wrote:

Three players emerged from Saturday's game with credit; Tom Rees, Josh Lewsey and Ollie Barkley. Dallaglio, Vickery and Cueto had shockers for differing reasons. Vickery should be banned - not how we want to play the game, and we won't miss him because he is a shadow of his former self. Our problem continues to be the loose trio (excluding Rees) as we are unable to clean up round the fringes, unable to win loose ball and unable to win quick ball - which makes the rest of the team look ponderous at best. The Bok poster is right - Schalk Berger's absence will have a major bearing on the outcome of this game as it slows them down to nearer our pace!

  • 60.
  • At 02:19 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Kevin Crimmons wrote:

When is Ashton going to pick Moody? Worsley persists in picking the wrong option near the try line and in his last two outings Corry was over the top and in danger of getting sent off. I think Tait is worth a run at outside Centre as well

  • 61.
  • At 02:20 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Tony Jensen wrote:

So typical about English rugby to focus on one player. Get your team in order and you may stand some chance of getting to the quarter finals if there are any of you left standing at the end of friday's game

  • 62.
  • At 02:23 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • andrew heron wrote:

it's not that long ago since South Africa were appalling.delivering performance is largely a question of choosing mindset,deleting below par performances from the register and releasing each player's self motivation.
I would go for broke and both install Andy Farell as captain and stand-off to play a tightish game of gradual field gain through his clever distribution with players running off him,thereby offering much reduced lineout opportunities to S.Africa to starve them of posession.He is lacking pace (imagine the reverse situation of a Union Prop becoming a league centre),but plenty of ball in his hands with a little space is a dangerous thing.

  • 63.
  • At 02:25 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Phil Space wrote:

"Glyn Jones wrote:
Who cares whether Vickery is banned or not England are going to lose anyway."

...and that would ease the pain would it? that you will feel on Saturday when Australia stuff you on your own pitch. Btw - how did you arrange all the home games in "FRANCE 20007?"

  • 64.
  • At 02:35 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Phil Space wrote:


  • 65.
  • At 02:37 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Steve M wrote:

Shame if Barkley can't play - the best performer from Saturday by far. In his absence the Catt/Farrell combination might just work - its one of the few we haven't tried ! 2 old heads (admittedly one at RL) against South Africa could do the trick but we will need some pace outside.

  • 66.
  • At 02:49 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Floridajani wrote:

Since when exactly were England ever favorites to win this fixture. Given the latest selection limitations (injuries and a possible ban)even a draw would be a huge bonus. Later on Tonga and Samoa should be pushovers as not many of them will still be standing after their little local war.

  • 67.
  • At 03:08 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

Sorry to say it, but a front row with Sheridan and Stevens would be a far better bet than Vickery. Lets face it thats the only area in which England have anything to offer at present.

  • 68.
  • At 03:14 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • ian w wrote:

What difference does losing Vickery make? None. You don't have a backline capable of breaking down the U.S.A., so why get your knickers in a twist about a prop, in a game where you are outgunned by the jaapies in every facet of the game?

Vickery's injury is not a big issue as Stevens is probably a better option. My main worry is in defence where I beleive that SA will now target Catt's and probably the Fly halves channels. In what could still be a tight game, it will be our weak defensive link. I would have played Farrell.

  • 70.
  • At 03:47 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • darran mather wrote:

i recall the France game when Faz literally picked up one of the French forwards and dropped him on his back. Thats we need against the Saffa's. Aggressive presence around the pitch. We need to boss them and rip them apart - its 15 against 15 - there is no reason why we can't beat them - self confidence and self belief is a great aphrodisiac.

we shall see

  • 71.
  • At 03:49 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Tracey Oakley wrote:

Losing Vickery is the best thing for England. Especially with Dallalgio dropped too! Vickery stamped all over a Saints player last season and didn't even get cited!! He is a useless, dirty player and doesn't exactly set a good example as a Captain! Looks like any Wasps player selected as Captain comes from the same seed!

  • 72.
  • At 04:13 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • K Austin wrote:

In response to comment 64. How is the draw favouring the Southern Hemisphere teams? England's pool should be just as easy as New Zealands is if you were in form, South Africa and England should go through, with Saomoa third, no question but I don't think that is what is going to happen. The AB's certainly don't have an easy road to the final, we'll get France, Argentina or Ireland (most definately the hardest pool, not yours) in the quarters, Australia in the semi's and if we make the final probably South Africa. Not exactly an easy task I don't think.
Your form is what is stacked against you, not the draw.

  • 73.
  • At 04:23 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Gooks wrote:

Vickery's loss is not critical although may prove damaging depending on who fires up the team before a match (nobody on saturday). I have always rated Stevens. Sheridan is stringing matches together and finding good form. If Burger is banned i am confident England can cause an upset.

  • 74.
  • At 04:44 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • tim broughton wrote:

Losing Vickery = no problem. Stephens is superior. Make Lewsey captain. Has leadership qualities, plays his heart out in a physical and direct fashion. Another thing, Why is Perry in for the Boks game? He will be murdered by their back row. A decent club player who looked good against shabby Wales and pretty ordinary France. Can someone tell the England team to play some fast ball and recycle quickly through pacey players rather than donkeys through slow mini-rucks?

  • 75.
  • At 04:58 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

Well, the possible downside of Vickery recieving a ban is that following such a ban England will continue to damage their own players in training until eventually they cannot field a B team or even a C team. As this appears to be their goal for this world cup campaign anyways. : P

  • 76.
  • At 04:59 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • derby steve wrote:

In his prime I thought Vicks was the hardest prop in the game and his bullocking runs in the loose were 'jump out of your seat' stuff but, I guess because of injuries (and too many pies) he's far from his prime right now. When England ran on to the pitch v USA all I saw was his fat stomach (and he looks less muscular) and in the warm up games I noticed he got knocked back in tackles too many times.
Stevens has to be the best option, especially given how slow the pack were around the park v USA. More youthful legs are needed, there's still plenty of experience in there.
Catt - captain and Kay leads the pack (both RWC winners afterall)

  • 77.
  • At 05:08 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Baz wrote:

ian w (post 68), you'd look a bit less silly if you read the posts before posting yourself. Not a single person here is getting their knickers in a twist about Vickery, we all think it would be A Good Thing if we did lose him.

  • 78.
  • At 05:26 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Graham wrote:

The difference between forwards and backs? Compare Dominici v Vickery, the frenchman was trying to get off the pitch before the ref sent him. Why can't forwards (particularly English) be subtle?

  • 79.
  • At 05:35 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Rifleman wrote:

Loved these posts, you lot have really got me looking forward to Friday and the rest of the competition. LOL

What we have lacked since last world cup is a Captain, without him we are rudderless as the last four years has proved.

Last time I always felt we were in control of our own destiny on the pitch with MJ at the helm, how come no one in the RFU realised this? If Vickery is banned he should come straight home, at this level there is no excuse for clumsy - "lets see what we can get away with" attitude. Play the game, get possesion, score the points.

But like the rest of you I will take the pain and be there watching on Friday. Come on England Players and Fans - sort it out.

  • 80.
  • At 07:01 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • dan scott wrote:

We should be careful how we veiw the recent England performances - we posses a team packed with talent, experience and quality...problem is its all induvidual at best. These guys have no pattern or formula, against USA I saw no sustained method, accuracy or team invention - they are flat. I hope to god something makes them click, but controlled sustained methods of play dont just fall at your feet. We need to find some go forward up front, pressure at the breakdown, and control in the middle. Although Farrel doesnt have gas, he does have vision and control, pick a back row that operates at the coal face, give Barkley some space and we might just avoid a cricket score!!!

  • 81.
  • At 08:05 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Phill wrote:

Ashton should play Farrel at 10. Rugby Union made the same mistake with Henry Paul. Farrel is an experienced, successful number 10, a creative and influential player in that position (in the League game) so why not play to his strengths. It'd surprise everyone and he'll be a match winner. Oh, and Catt at 12 as captain.

  • 82.
  • At 09:01 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jimme Moller wrote:

Dear Julie,

Heading is not an option for playing the ball.

Law 7 Mode of Play
A match is started by a kick off.
After the kick off, any player who is onside may take the ball and
run with it.
Any player may throw it or kick it.
Any player may give the ball to another player.
Any player may tackle, hold or push an opponent holding the ball.
Any player may fall on the ball.
Any player may take part in a scrum, ruck, maul or lineout.
Any player may ground the ball in in-goal.
Whatever a player does must be in accordance with the laws of the
Law 7 Mode of Play

  • 83.
  • At 09:07 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Ivan wrote:

Vickery being out is no loss at all. Well past it!!Corey and Dallagio are past it too. Would have Moody without doubt. Mobility is the key in the pack. Sheridan as pack leader.

Richards instead of Perry to have a chance of quick ball and with no fly half would have to be Catt with Farrell and Tait in the centres. We need some creativity as you can't win rugby matches just by defense!!Lewsey at Fullback and Robinson and Sackey on the wings.

If Barkley is fit I would drop Catt as he created nothing against America at all. Farrell looked more impressive when he came on!!

As for captain it has to be Farrell. If he can do it in league he can sure do it in Union!!!

  • 84.
  • At 09:11 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jimme Moller wrote:

I would like to remind you that when preparing for the WC the whole team was visiting the Royal Marines before they went to Portugal, for a physical work out. After a few hours the PT officers told the team management that they would not take certain players into action with them.....!!!!
Would love to know who they were.

  • 85.
  • At 09:29 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Lambo wrote:

God bless the internet. This is fun - all of us love talking about rugby, shame we can't all go down the pub and talk about it!

Speculating on a team line up is one of the small pleasures of a RWC - now with our selction crisis its more exciting as there is a need to be really creative with what we've got if there is any hope (and I still have hope, Gwyn, and I hope you win against Australia, too). If Ashton takes a few creative risks we might all be supprised. Keep the faith.

Jontymo is right about the Guiness premiership though - we should follow cricket in limiting the number of foreign players.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I'll be in the pub (in Edinburgh) on Friday night roaring for my team.

  • 86.
  • At 09:37 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Lambo wrote:

Jimmy Moller - I read the same article, but I think it was referring to 2003

  • 87.
  • At 09:58 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jimme Moller wrote:

Lambo, that would be awesome in the Pub with food and drink. Being in the USandA is not fun right now I tell you. The have NFC about rugby or the spirit. But I am pretty sure it was about this years selection.

  • 88.
  • At 10:10 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Norm wrote:

I'd be curious to know your opinion on the disparity in punishment handed out to Vickery (two games) and to Emerick (the entire Cup) for their respective dangerous play. Are the referees terribly out of touch with the play on the field, and are we seeing preferential behavior on the part of the judges?

  • 89.
  • At 10:49 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Ray Liotta wrote:

Here's a question for the experts. Now that Vickery is out of the next two games, is it feasible that he stays out of the first 15 for the rest of the tournament, if his replacement plays a blinder -(even though Vickery has been named Captain of the tour).
Surely omitting Vickery (if fit) means that Ashton is admitting to the mistake of giving him the captaincy in the first place? In other words, if your captain is playing crap, can you drop him permanently from the team? Has it ever happened before? Surely can't look good from a coaches perspective.

  • 90.
  • At 10:49 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Andy909 wrote:

Its not Vickery's absence that's the problem. The problem is the in form "done it all year" players that Ashton has left behind.
Gloucester win the league and get nobody in the squad. Ashtons selections are even worse than Robinson's. Phew what a feat that is!
This would be my 15 for Friday
1 Sheridan
2 Regan
3 Stevens
4 Shaw
6 ANDY HAZELL (best back rower in the premiership)
7 Rees (good game against USA)
8 PETER BUXTON (would have been a big success in SA but for injury, perfect for the SA game)
9 Gomarsall (need quicker service than Perry and more nous than Richards)
10 CHARLIE HODGSON (Barkley looked good against USA but then he should)
11 JAMES SIMPSON DANIEL (cut it against SA in the summer when so many did not)
12 Noon (when will Ashton realise Farrell will never make an international union player)
13 Lewsey (only centre in the whole squad to offer great offense and great defense as well - could be a Will Greenwood type in this tournament given the chance)
14 Robinson
15 OLI MORGAN (Big, strong, fast and discarded too soon)

  • 91.
  • At 10:55 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Phil wrote:

It doesn't matter, the whole England team have aquired the losing habit. They have done it so often they have found it is OK to lose they can live with it and they do.

You can see them all with so many systems and plays inside their heads that they hesitate and fluff the simple obvious winning things.

Shame, we have got some good players but they are losers

  • 92.
  • At 11:23 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Charles Parton wrote:

vickery reminds me off fat frank lampard- fat,slow, over-rated. it amazes me he was made captain in the first place as he is clearly well passed his best. bring on stevens and an inclining of mobility.

  • 93.
  • At 11:50 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jimme Moller wrote:

Lambo we were both wrong, it was Woodward in 1999. Link is to article.

Sorry messed up. Jimme,18259,3556_2447914,00.html

  • 94.
  • At 07:17 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • efretton wrote:

Who cares if Vickery plays or not..Their biggest concern should be how to prepare themselfs for the greatest upset in world rugby history.That is by losing to the Samoans.They have done it before and there is no question they will do it again.

  • 95.
  • At 07:21 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Dylan Davies wrote:

Post 6, Glyn, Grow up mate!

Post 79, Rifleman,

Your on the right track,It's a bit early to start crying. Give the English boys a break and get behind them. I hope they pump the Boks!

I'm a proud Welshman, and I'll be cheering my boys on against the Aussies, come what may!

  • 96.
  • At 09:18 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Lambo wrote:

Thanks Jimme, we both stand corrected. I'm going to show that to my boss... "One wrong team player can sap all the energy from the group." Anyone else work with people like that?

Anyone else support rugby with people like that?

  • 97.
  • At 10:41 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Cheggers wrote:

darran mather: I also remember the France game to which you refer. My memory is more of two guys ripping the French defence apart with scintillating running and handling skills. Can't quite remember their names but was wondering if they are in the team to play the Boks - I think it was Tony Blood and Shaun Ferrety, or something similar.
Anyone know if these guys are in the 22?

  • 98.
  • At 10:44 AM on 12 Sep 2007,
  • Arron wrote:

Does anybody actually give us a chance on Friday? I actually think Ashton has a cunning plan to lull the opposition into a false sense of security by not revealing any of our destructive, rapier like moves before the big games. In fact it's such a cunning plan that Eddie O'Sullivan has adopted it as well!

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