Clock ticking on England training

  • Phil Harlow - BBC Sport journalist
  • 7 Mar 07, 01:08 PM

Phil Harlow eng_badge.gifBath - England's players could not have asked for better conditions to practise the heads-up rugby to which they aspire.

On a beautiful sunny morning at the University of Bath, England's training session got underway an hour later than scheduled at 11 o'clock, much to the relief of the waiting pack of photographers.

But any insights into what to expect from England are few and far between with media access to the session strictly limited to 20 minutes.

And when I say strict, I mean strict.

When the whistle was blown to get things started, clocks were synchronised by the two burly security guards patrolling the touchline.

We did get to see a quick drill led by defence coach Mike Ford and then - after we received a five-minute warning - the players split up into forwards and backs.

Head coach Brian Ashton took the backs through some easy moves to get them up and running with new captain Mike Catt more than happy to call the shots.

But when the 20-minute mark was reached, that was that.

We were asked to move on by the security personnel in that polite but slightly threatening manner beloved by nightclub bouncers everywhere.

I can reveal that there are no hard feelings between Tom Rees and Magnus Lund after the Wasps flanker replaced his Sale counterpart in the team to face France.

The pair wandered down to training together, chatting amiably - as did fly-half rivals Toby Flood and Shane Geraghty.

But beyond that, however, there is not much more to report.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:15 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • nathan wrote:

i thnk u will win the six nations wb

  • 2.
  • At 03:01 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Not really Much of a Blog u could of talked about something a bit more interesting

  • 3.
  • At 03:10 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • ed wrote:


  • 4.
  • At 03:10 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • robertson wrote:

I would suggest that tickets go on sale after England have announced their team - which would provide an immediate view on selection.

  • 5.
  • At 05:51 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • James wrote:

Is there a reason for this blog? Have you got quotas for how mny blogs you must write a week or something?

  • 6.
  • At 05:52 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • Brian "The Impartial Adonis" Moore wrote:

I doubt the French are that bothered about the English team's tactics. Let's be honest, if the right French team turns up on the day then there can only be one result.

However, if the garlic munchers have been hitting the red wine and Gitanes hard the night before, England have a small chance of an upset.

  • 7.
  • At 05:54 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • scotinmunster wrote:

And you get paid for this awful piece of journalism? What exactly are we paying a license fee for? my 6 year old daughter could have told us the same for free and with a couple of interesting points thrown in. I agree, pointless completely pointless....who cares that ML is not publicly abusing TR? do you really think anybody would fall out with someone else over such a thing? its not as though TR had a say in selection is it? utter rubbish

  • 8.
  • At 07:46 PM on 07 Mar 2007,
  • robert wrote:

to be honest why would you want to see more than 20 minutes-it will be bad enough to watch at the weekend!
i dont even want to see 2 minutes of catt or corry in the second row.
there is no leader in the pack and if catt is as good as it gets we are in big trouble!
WHY?because at the top level of sport the winners are able to rise up another level under severe pressure...
federer b4 him sampras
tiger b4 our own faldo
you get my drift,now in rugby england produced half a dozen players that could produce there best with that shirt on,obviously,johnson,vickery(when fit)hill,dalliagio,back,wikinson,robinson.the other players made there contribution but would have struggled to make a world 15 at that time of being world champions.
now at the weekend the only person likely to get close to a world 15 is robinson-but he has a problem he is on the wing and england will be on the back foot the whole game.i was in paris last year and england got hammered,they didnt compete at all and those that wre there will remember dallaigio made more impact behind the posts than any england players that day.i would just like to add that corry was captain that day and we had great seats behind the posts,when england were behind the posts after yet another try conceded i remember that corry had no idea and more worring at that time he quite obviously had little respect from his team mates....i can only imagine he has absolutely no respect in the second row from either team and if he is there to be the pack leader we are in serious trouble....youll see,as for catt he will need to tackle and that has always been his weakness-the french back row will be all over him....

  • 9.
  • At 09:02 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Michael wrote:

Any chance you can put up a blog that we can actually respond seriously too. This is appalling

  • 10.
  • At 11:13 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Houstie wrote:

I'm going to be a BBC sports journalist. Talk about getting paid for nothing!!

The basis of this article is:

Went to see England train.

Only allowed to see players for 20 mins.

Players looked happy & content.

Well thanks for the most pointless article I think I've ever seen Phil.

  • 11.
  • At 11:31 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Loafer Steve wrote:

Err, excuse me, it can't come in here dressed like that, can you move this blog on please.

  • 12.
  • At 11:40 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Houstie wrote:

Since this blog is so dreadful I thought I'd liven it up with a question.

Does anyone else think that Martin Corry looks like Frankenstein?

When I see him shuffling about the pitch with that huge forehead & tussled black hair, I can't help thinking of the old Frankenstein film.

  • 13.
  • At 12:10 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Phil Harlow wrote:

Hello all,

I'm sorry my blog from England's training session has proved... less than popular, shall we say.

I was attempting to make the point that England's policy of opening up training seems to be suffering in the aftermath of their hammering by Ireland.

It came across to me as somewhat paranoid. The sight of one of the security staff arguing with an older gent who had taken a couple of photos after the 20 minutes was up was taking things too far.

Perhaps this did not come across very well in the article, but I thought it was a valid point worth making.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to comment on the article.


  • 14.
  • At 12:17 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Jamie wrote:

Message for bloke in number 8. So you know Corry and the rest of the England team personnaly? Maybe you should be England Coach, and Captain for that matter!

  • 15.
  • At 12:23 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • George wrote:

I've enjoyed the comments on this page far more than the blog itself. You take away our Scrum V message board and now give us this rubbish. BBC you are losing your grip on reality. What next?

  • 16.
  • At 01:26 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Rory wrote:

Great blog! its on the same level as Englands performance against Ireland!!

  • 17.
  • At 03:06 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Eileen wrote:

This article is a quite similar to how England play rugby. A lot of talk about very little... promising much and finally delivering nothing.

  • 18.
  • At 03:06 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • sorcha munster fan wrote:

personally i think that this blog was quite interesting. it's a subject that hasn't been discussed much. i feel france have the all the skills to beat england but as an irish fan, i would love to see the englsih hammer them! not just because of the championship but just because it's france ha ha! the french are a great team but i do feel slightly resentful at some of the comments about the ireland team made by the manager. come on england!i always rate england and i know it's a bad patch at the minute but england are always up for the ocassion even if the end result doesn't go their way. they will definitely be a force to be reckoned with at the world cup!

  • 19.
  • At 05:10 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • nicholas dixon wrote:

England to come good on Sunday,raising their game as lots to prove in World Cup Year but must pray that the Frenchies are off key at the start and let England get some rythem.Like to see Streetle fly and perhaps some second half touches from Geraghty.Must be positive afterall it is the Froggies who are turning up.

I think it's the right thing to have closed training sessions. If you were going to war you wouldn't let the enemy review your training exercises or see you plans would you!! Why should England give away it's secrets, the element of surprise is a vital one.

  • 21.
  • At 05:34 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Eileen wrote:

Re: 20

England give away its secrets...?
Don't make me laugh....The element of surprise?? What are they - The Spanish Inquisition ...?

There's never ANYTHING surprising about England playing rugby...

They are always dull, dull dull...

The only thing that is surprising is that they can manage to scrape together 15 guys fit enough to play.

  • 22.
  • At 06:45 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Andy wrote:

A waste of bytes, I can't believe I used up valuable time browsing to this blog.....

  • 23.
  • At 07:26 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Portnawak wrote:

Dull, dull, dull?
We're not dull at all. I can tell you that I have absolutely no idea how we're going to play against France. Maybe we'll click and be excellent maybe we'll be a total shambles. Maybe we'll be leading with two minutes to go and then throw it away like a bunch of amateurs!!!
Nothing more exciting than a surprise is there?
Except I suppose 27 Grand Slams and a world cup, but then what do you expect from a team who are ALWAYS dull?

  • 24.
  • At 07:31 PM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • robert wrote:

in response to no14-quite frankly i dont think i would have done a worst job as england manager !just a little understanding of body langauge and sports psychology would help england enormously....anyway lets see if my prediction is right b4 i get offered the job...ha ha

  • 25.
  • At 12:21 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • rugbyunionrocker wrote:

This article is terrible. I know quite a few talented writers who are struggling to make ends meet. Perhaps they could write something interesting instead.

As for the English rugby team having a "closed" training session. Why? Maybe they should have an "open" one and ask the general public to help out in the coaching department.

  • 26.
  • At 01:07 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Neil wrote:

I kind of understand Phils reasoning, there's not a lot that an english fan can talk about. As if the argument about squad selection hasnt been over talked already. Different combinations and same result.....complete crap. I still believe this England team isn't that bad and a defeat for France could be on the cards. Being an Irishman maybe this is wishful thinking but if the squad can overcome their shattered self-confidence and REALLY play some rugby then all hope is not lost. England are stuck in a rut and it will be a long road back to the dizzing heights of 2003 but beating France would be a major step forward. England ARE capable.

Reply to post 21# Dull they may be at the moment, I only care if the win or not. Anyway still shouldn't give away your game plan before a match.

  • 28.
  • At 11:55 AM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Matt wrote:

What a state English rugby is in. Not only have we lost Johnny Wilkinson, our start player, and our captain, Phil Vicory, to the stupidity and greed of the clubs they play for but we also lost our new centre just when he was starting to find his feet. I suppose on the bright side we gained an over the hill Mike Catt, a player who consistently fails to impress every time an England coach brings him back in the vague hope of steadying the side when threatened with multiple injuries. My prediction for this Sunday against France, Catt will miss at least two key tackles, which will lead to France scoring, and we will probably lose by at leats 30 points.

  • 29.
  • At 12:16 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Lee wrote:

I've got an Update for this Blog.

Engalnd Team slept last night, after some food. They had breakfast this morning and some wore tracksuits with training shoes whilst others wore flip flops.

Can I have a job with the BBC please?

  • 30.
  • At 12:24 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Peter Smith wrote:

Dear All,

All above cooments noted. There appears to be a sense of doom around England Rugby at the moment, this side picked for Sunday represents Brian Ashtons choice of a new dawn even with Mike Catt included something these blogs have been full of suggestions for over the past few months. Personally I think Toby Flood, Mike Catt and Tom Rees will all play well and maybe get a renewed sense of optimism back for the trip to Cardiff and we can all get off the back of the Writer for this blog.

  • 31.
  • At 12:29 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Wee man wrote:

Oh my, a lot of people here could be proved wrong this weekend, esp after England come out, put the ball up their jumper and force France to make errors, which is not difficult. Has anyone else seen the discipline problem Les Bleus have? Ireland in the second half forced France to infringe, it allowed the Irish back in the game. For that type of play, England need the forward game to be awake from the whistle, and if they do, Flood and Catty both have a good kicking game. They can put England to where they need to be playing, in the French 22. England 10-9, if their defence holds up. It'll be boring, but a boring win is a win nontheless. And winning builds confidence. Go on England, turn them over.

  • 32.
  • At 01:21 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Dave wrote:

The England team now is nothing like the world cup winning team of 2003. However we have some new keen young blood bringing enthusiasm to a demoralised England team who keep losing key players (and matches). However I will support England and who ever plays for England dispite what I think about the individual players. I will cheer for England always hoping that the team perform better with our support.
Swing Low Sweet Chariot Coming For To Carry Me Home!!!

  • 33.
  • At 01:41 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Terry wrote:

Well, I never.....

Yep! I am a journalist and this is filler. 'You can fool some of the people some of the time etc etc.....

Now, England are obviously seriously trying out new stuff so keeping it from the Press is probably a good idea. I say this because the Press will continue to 'slate em' whatever they do.

England didn't get it right yet but only a fool would write them off in the long term. The England setup know that. The less the press know about what is happening at training camp this week...the better!.

I look forward to England 'havin' a go' this weekend. If only to help Ireland to win the championship.

England is a sleeping giant at the moment and may just begin to wake this weekend.

  • 34.
  • At 01:47 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Matt Davies wrote:

I can't believe the negative comment about England at the moment, yes we are not playing well, but to critise a coach after 3 games in charge? I thought this was rugby we were watching, not football. Give the guy a chance!

  • 35.
  • At 02:47 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Houstie wrote:

Kick yourself in the head wee man.

England have 2 hopes:

no hope & bob hope

  • 36.
  • At 03:33 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Brian "The Impartial Adonis" Moore wrote:

England's only hope is if the garlic munchers have been hitting the red wine and gitanes very hard over the last few nights, and even then it's a slim one.

It's hilarious to see the papers having to do the usual U-turn after headlines like "The King is Back" after the Scotland game. When will they learn?

That said, "Come on England"!

Post a comment

Please note Name and E-mail are required.

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them. Please note that submitting a comment is not the same as making a formal complaint - see this page for more details.

Required (not displayed)

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites