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Lancaster is the best man for the job

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Alastair Eykyn | 14:05 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2012

As England's caretaker, Stuart Lancaster did exactly as he was asked, and he is now reaping the considerable reward.

He repaired the damage of the World Cup, he blooded a new generation of players, and he won four matches out of five. It has proved a convincing audition.

We will learn more about Lancaster's backroom staff in the coming days, but we know that he wants to retain the assistants that worked with him in the Six Nations Championship. Graham Rowntree is a stone-cold certainty as forwards coach.

My information is that Andy Farrell can be persuaded to join England on a permanent basis too, though he will need to secure a release from his contract at Saracens.

Stuart Lancaster (centre) with England players Ben Morgan and Tom Croft

Lancaster (centre) celebrates the win over Ireland with Brad Barritt and Tom Croft

The chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, Ian Ritchie has made a bold appointment. He had the option of choosing a big-hitter.

The former South Africa coaches Nick Mallett and Jake White, and the former Italy and Japan coach John Kirwan were all considered, amongst others.

White won the World Cup in 2007. At one stage Mallett won 17 tests in a row with the Springboks. Any one of these men would have been the more conservative choice.

For all his work with Leeds and the England Saxons, Lancaster has just five senior international matches on his CV. Andy Farrell is in his infancy in coaching terms.

Graham Rowntree is the most experienced of the three. He has five years with England, two World Cups and a British Lions tour behind him.

So Ritchie's decision signifies a leap of faith. The man so recently installed at the helm of English rugby has clearly seen enough to put total trust in Lancaster.

The atmosphere at Twickenham recently tells you that England rugby fans will support the appointment, and hope that the new man can build on the excellent foundations that he has laid. Winning the World Cup of 2015 is the target, and nothing less.

The critical part is what happens next. Lancaster has weathered the storm of the Six Nations Championship, and emerged with credit.

England were not a million miles from achieving the most unlikely of Grand Slams. The wonderful Welsh resolve, and a slice of magic by Scott Williams put paid to their hopes at Twickenham.

No one should be under any illusions that the next few months will be extremely difficult for Stuart Lancaster. England play three Tests in South Africa in June. He will need no reminding of the enormous challenge of beating the Springboks on home turf.

Three years ago, the best in the British Isles were assembled for a similar mission, and even they fell short. The Lions were beaten 2-1 in a titanic series of fabulous rugby and bruising attrition.

In November, England host the "big three" from the southern hemisphere, along with Fiji. The forthcoming fixture list is unforgiving. In a worst case scenario, England might win one from the next seven matches.

Perhaps they will win them all, but I would suggest that the former is a good deal more likely than the latter.

So the honeymoon is over for Stuart Lancaster. Right now he has the overwhelming backing of his players, the fans, and the senior management.

The emotion of his success in Edinburgh, Rome and Paris is still flowing through collective veins, and the demolition job on the Irish scrum at Twickenham was a forceful reminder of English capabilities.

How will he fare when the results are against England? Will he have the strength of personality to stick to his task, to make the necessary selection calls, and to deal with a vociferous media?

Will he be able to conjure an incisive attacking threat from his back division, to complement their obvious defensive qualities? The landscape might look very different at the end of November, and it will take all his resilience to prosper.

England supporters must be patient. Lancaster's team is an embryonic one. They are extremely unlikely to be transformed into world-beaters overnight. They will lose matches.

They will also learn hard lessons and grow as a result. In players like Ben Youngs (aged 22, with 22 caps), Owen Farrell (aged 20, 5 caps) and Manu Tuilagi (aged 20, 10 caps) he has some potentially world-class talent available to him.

There is a layer of experience above them too - players such as Tom Croft, Dan Cole and Ben Foden, who are all in their mid-twenties and approaching the 30 cap mark. The coach has three years to bring his group to fruition.

Lancaster is an honest, straightforward, passionate man who has shown all the attributes necessary for long-term success. We wish him well.


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  • Comment number 1.

    The right choice for many IMO and I for one am looking forward to see how this pack perform in the coming series. He has a little more to do with the backs though, whilst defending well I didn't see a lot of threat in attack. Personally I am glad to see less dithering regarding the appointment and cant wait for the next Wales / England battle. Hope we have Adam Jones available. mouth watering. Good luck Mr Lancaster.

  • Comment number 2.

    Got to say when I first heard Stuart Lancaster had been appointed interim coach I was a little sceptical having heard very little about him. After the six nations though I couldn't be happier with the appointment. Yes there are obviously areas to work on and build on but let's remember that this is a new squad who haven't been together for very long. There is certainly a lot to be excited about and if Andy Farrell and maybe a specialist attack coach come in I can see us being very competitive in the run-up to the World Cup.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yes sense has prevailed and Lancaster certainly is the man in form. He has enjoyed a honeymoon period and now the real work begins.

    Lets hope England can continue to be competitive and Northern Hemisphere rugby goes from strength to strength

    Would be great to see us lot... England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland dominate the latter stages of world cups, instead of those pesky blighters down south

  • Comment number 4.

    I would argue one of the easier decisions to make in recent times given the overwhelming support from the players and fans alike. Johnson and, as an english man I would not want to hear a bad word said about him given his service to the country, was if we are honest a desperate appointment. He had basically no management experience at all and was far too close to the players, hence, the diabolical world cup in terms of the media. I have to add that what we did on the field during his reign wasn't really that bad....

    Stuart Lancaster may not be the big name, but 20 years of coaching experience including the Saxons and Seniors coupled with a completely fresh attitude have certainly had a massive impact already.

    The question remains when it gets tough will he continue to have the backing from the leaders of the RFU which in my mind is a must if we have any hope of regaining the world cup.

    From what I have seen so far he seems very modest, quiet and professional with a steely edge. As he says we are not the finished article but if we are honest but for a last minute try/no try we could have been undefeated in 5....

    I just hope we don't lose the momentum between now and South Africa, but, my mouth is watering already for the prospects...

    GOOD LUCK to the new coach and lets start by winning at Twickenham again...

  • Comment number 5.

    Smith as attacking coach and will be looking good!

    Good to see the RFU making sound decisions (IMHO), but only time will tell and they still have ability to make an utter pig's ear of it all. If this turns out to be another 18-month wonder off the back of sensationalist headlines either for or against then i'll have a head in hands moment.

    We need to lose, and lose badly at some point (as many suspected we would in the 6N). It's part of growing as a team and i fear with the press as it is today, we will just see baying for rolling heads and the wheels will come off if the RFU listen to it. We have a young team, that seem to be playing for all the right reasons, and a coaching staff to match. Lets hope it stays that way for the foreseeable.

  • Comment number 6.

    Probably the best choice out of a strangely limited field. I really like Stuart Lancaster for the qualities he stands for and for what he expects from players pulling on an England shirt. He has achieved an unexpected and morale-boosting turnaround from the supposed catastrophe of the World Cup and put a smile back on the faces of players and fans alike.

    Unfortunately I think that he will be onto a hiding to nothing in the short term and the "gentlemen" of the press and the embittered old players who make up the punditry will waste little time in eating him alive once the honeymoon is over i.e. after the first test in South Africa.

    He deserves better given the scale of the task...but he won't get it from the mean-spirited short-termists who pass for our sports press. On the plus side, he has unearthed several players of immense potential and finally drawn a line under 2003...surely the longest hangover in history. A number of the incumbents will need to up their performance if they are to retain their places as there is genuine talent out there (except in centres) and, crucially, he knows where to find it. He will need several seasons to bring these newcomers up to their full potential then, who knows, England could be pretty competitive. As such, he shouldn't be afraid of losing a few games in the meantime.

    Who knows, give it a couple of seasons and the Beeb website may be forced to report English rugby again.

  • Comment number 7.

    You can blag an interview but you can rarely blag an on-the-job trial. We have seen signs of what we are going to get under his stewardship and quite frankly I'm very pleased he has subsequently been awarded the position. Best of luck to him, his coaching staff and the team. I just hope the press will give him the time he needs as the rest of this year could be brutal. Either way he'll have my support at Twickenham.

  • Comment number 8.

    Good choice by the RFU and the right man for the job. I fancy us to beat Australia in the Autumn and would be disapointed at anything other than a good win over Fiji. BUT PLEASE for the love of god lets not get on his back if we lose to the Springboks and NZ. They too will be stepping stones for a developing side.

  • Comment number 9.

    As a Scot I don't like this appointment.

    An England manager who I can't help but like. An England manager who will make all his players really earn the honour to represent their country. An England manager who will help the sport and its perception grow within the country rather than just caring about the 30 individuals who he deems good enough to play for England. An England manager who has proved himself before being awarded the job.

    But worst of all: An England manager who I think will help England become the rugby powerhouse they can be and regularly compete with the SH nations, and even worse, get back to swatting Scotland aside rather than the scraping past us.

  • Comment number 10.

    Frudiro21 @ 9

    Added to him being a competent England manager who played for Scotland as oppossed to your incompetent Scotland manager who played for England.

  • Comment number 11.

    I think this could be a good opointment if they appoint someone Experienced in his coaches set up. Im Welsh but if this had been my country i would've wanted Mallet involved in one way or another but saying that Good luck to Lancaster. He's been bold and been his own man.

    Imo it will be interesting to see if the same thing that happens to caretaker managers in football after they are appointed (Great form as caretaker then a poor spell after getting the job).

  • Comment number 12.

    Oh dear. The popular choice.

    The newly appointed Head Coach faces seven mtches in the remainder of 2012. By Christmas, his record is likely to be Played 7 Lost 6.

    Has the RFU handed Stuart Lancaster a poisoned chalice so that it can appoint the man it really wants in time for the Six Nations next year.

  • Comment number 13.

    I am pleased for Lancaster and I think it is the right appointment. What struck me most about the 6N was the manner in which England appeared to bond as a team, rather than as a colection of individuals, and all appeared to want to play for each other. That was very pleasing for me as an England supporter. Long may it continue. Good luck Mr Lancaster!

  • Comment number 14.

    His first tests against the Boks should be a lot easier than it appears. They'll be played in the middle of an exhausting Super 15 with very little chance of the SA Franchises resting their Springboks for the national good. They have a new coach who'll find it difficult to assemble his team for the first time because of the S15 schedule, plus a number of top players have retired since the RWC. The last may actually be a blessing for the Boks, though.
    If my experience of past S14/15s is anything to go by, the Boks will be heavily depleted through injuries by the time these test come around.
    All in all, Lancaster may have a better tour of SA than most people expect.

  • Comment number 15.

    Ben Morgan looks just like Brad Barritt in that photo

  • Comment number 16.

    Support, Lancaster is the right man but his success will be strongly influenced by who he has with him, both above and below. Johnson was let down by those above and those beneath were annonymous.

    I think he is the right man.

  • Comment number 17.

    Given the lads the belief they needed after a poor RWC. Definitely want to see some more attacking backs plays but I understand the primary objective of the 6nations was to concede as little tries as possible, shows that in the high amount of tackles made!! Good Luck Lancaster! Bring us success!!!

  • Comment number 18.

    Yes Lenny, he's not as tall as he used to be either.

  • Comment number 19.

    The right decision and good luck to him and England. I hope what passes for the media in this country leave him alone and let him get on with the job. I somehow expect their expectations will be unrealistic and they will be calling for his head if a few things go wrong! Anyway here's to you Stuart.

  • Comment number 20.

    The "people's choice" has finally got the job.
    The IRB and it's advisors, (Yes "Geetch" was one of the advisors on the selection panel), could not dare pick anyone else for the position. Rob "Teflon" Andrews would have to finally bare the blame on any failure if they had done so.
    Alonge with Rowntree, the achitect of Englands forwards dominance versus Ireland etc, it looks like a good strong foundation to a coaching team. A defence and an attacking coach will now have to follow, who they are remains to be seen.
    Lancaster has gone someway in cleaning out the England deadwood that was evident both on and off the field in the World Cup. Will he continue in this vain and take action against, or have stern words with, the likes of Dylan Hartley, twice banned for cowardly acts of eye-gouging and biting, and to Ashton and the likes for continued petulence, remains to be seen.
    In any event South Africa in June will be the litmus test, not only evident by just winning, but by continued growth and earned respect.
    Best of luck Mr Lancaster.

  • Comment number 21.

    Congratulations - not only to Stuart Lancaster for a richly deserved vote of confidence, but also to Ian Richie for making the appointment. It is well recognised that England are a development side, but I think with SL at the helm, the development will continue. Yes there will be setbacks - all I can hope is that the doom merchants and naysayers will have the grace to recognise these for what they are, and not embark on a character assassination campaign at the first opportunity. Remember the RWC is another 3 seasons away. If England reach their peak then, then that is when judgement should be passed. The intervening years (and 6N's) are steps along the way.

  • Comment number 22.

    @15 lenny 81 that could be because it is Brad Barritt.

  • Comment number 23.

    I wish Lancaster all the best. A decent man who has turned a rabble into something that looks like a team with a shared vision and ethic.

    But international rugby is an unforgiving place to be. This was a poor six nations with two genuinely poor teams, two in transition and one riding on the back of a decent effort in the world cup. England restored themselves but not much else. Putting a guy in with such little coaching experience at this level is a genuine gamble. I just hope that some likely heavy defeats the next 8 internationals don't lead to a witch hunt.

    Mallet would have made more sense.

  • Comment number 24.

    DaveD, you are right about the Saffers, not quite the mountain that you might think. After all, their World cup wasn't exactly glorious was it? Quarter Final defeat (like Us) only scrapped a win against lowly Wales, lots of aging players to be rid of (like we did), reliant on a 10 man game for last 18 months.

    Why is seemed to be set in stone that we will lose all three matches?

  • Comment number 25.

    #14 DavidD & #24GM Massingbird:
    Armed with such ammunition as you've written, lets start what the "media" will say:

    "England must win the Test Series against the Springbox 3 - 0. Anything else will NOT be tolerated".

    Mmm The way to go... I think not.

  • Comment number 26.

    "Play without fear" thats something that England haven't done for a long time. Great appointment and best wishes to Stuart Lancaster.

    Ex PE teacher wins the world cup for England - What a brilliant headline that would make!

  • Comment number 27.

    An interesting series ahead of us in South Africa. Now the right choice has been made the message is clear to any young players, if you're good enough you stand a chance.

    2003 has now been consigned to history, as it should be. Lancaster needs two more coaches and I anticipate a closely fought series in SA and at least one win in their games back at Twickenham.

    Hopefully pride will breed confidence will will then breed a more expansive type of game, without ignoring our core strengths.

    There is a feeling in the air that this brave choice by the RFU is the right one. Lets get back up there with the SN sides, and along with Wales and France, beat them on a regular basis.

  • Comment number 28.

    They made the only choice. Anything else would be the usual RFU disaster.

  • Comment number 29.

    Definitely the right choice. Seems like an all round decent fellow and it speaks volumes that players want to play for him. Hope the detractors and the media are not straight on his back as soon as England get the reality check down in South Africa this summer. Looks like Farrell and Rowntree will have to be coaxed aswell. Rowntree already earmarked for the Lions tour so could be tricky. If not, hope for Englands case its not a case with Farrell of Clough without Taylor.

    p.s Wasn't Graham Henry an ex PE teacher?!

  • Comment number 30.

    Lancaster has proved himself to be an excellent coach. He has shown that sometimes it is better to go with someone that still has a reputation to make, rather than a celebrated ex-player. Results are always king in professional sport and he has been able to achieve excellent ones. Finally the RFU have stood up and made a smart, strong decision.

    Lancaster's England has a nice blend of precocious young talent, strength and a good level of international experience. They aren't miles behind Wales in terms of development and the real beauty is that this group of players will grow up in the international game together. The future is definitely bright.

    England have always had the players to succeed but now they have a squad system which says to all players, young and old, if you play well you will be considered for selection. The likes of Tom Croft, Owen Farrell, Ben Morgan, Courtney Lawes, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Wood can achieve greatness in the game given the right platform.

    Sometimes in life, the perfect situation is stumbled upon completely by accident. That appears to be what has happened with the England rugby team here. Lancaster would have been no ones choice three months ago, yet now we can agree that he deserved the chance and the praise he is already receiving.

    Well done Stuart Lancaster. He is down to earth yet fiercely competitive and seems to have the man management skills that are so critical in the professional era. Finally the RFU have made a decision they can be proud of.

  • Comment number 31.

    Looks like a good decision to me, it is great to see England appointing somebody on merit rather than on reputation and the hunt for a big name.

    #12 it is only a poisoned chalice if the RFU chose to take a short-sighted view.
    Of course there is a good chance that England will lose 6 of the next 7, but that is true regardless of who was appointed.

    We have 3 tests in South Africa, somehwere that none of the other home nations have ever won a test match, followed by games against the top 3 teams at home. It could be argued that Lancaster has been given a shot to nothing rather than a posioned chalice.

    #26 In the amateur era, teacher, and partciularly PE teacher, was a common career choice for rugby players, Ashton and Robinson are both former teachers, and Sir Clive has a PGCE

  • Comment number 32.

    We all tend to hark back to '03 when most of the team had played most of their rugby as amateurs with day jobs. Jonno, Baccy and the rest really put their all into the game.

    This 6-nations is the first time I've seen England players perform as if they feel the same way. There was a pride that has been lacking for too long.

    My message to Stuart would be "keep it going, keep the youngsters coming through, we won't turn on you if it seems not to work in the short term"

    "And keep your ethos the same, it's what we need!"

    Best of luck mate, I'll be supporting you

  • Comment number 33.

    #30 and 31, Barca and John, both perceptive comments, if I may say so.

    I coached school rugby in Devon in the 90's, when Andy Robinson was at Colston's in Bristol. They became so good so fast that other schools on the circuit started bottling out of playing them!

    In those days, as you said, teaching was one of the best places for a sportsman!

  • Comment number 34.

    Really pleased for him. I just hope he can sort out a deal with Farrell and continue with his backroom team from the 6N.

    England can look forward to the 2015 WC with a realistic chance of having a youthful and competitive team who want to win (rather than an arrogant one who expect to win).

  • Comment number 35.

    Delighted for SL, the England squad and those fans who backed SL as it became évident during the 6N that the blueprint was being redrawn.

    It will take time of course but this England set up jas already shown that it can be competitive straight from the drawing board.

    The RFU took its time. But fair play: the right result.

    Looking forward as an England fan to monitor the upward trend of improvement.

    Pride of shirt, tactically flexible, disciplined, role models for England's talented youth.


  • Comment number 36.


  • Comment number 37.

    A couple of points:-

    1. Congrats to SL, a well deserved appointment. I can't quite put my finger on what it is that makes him so appealing. That indefinable something that singles out the succesful from the rest.
    2. There is mention of needing an attack coach and a defence coach. If this is the case, where does Andy Farrell fit in, assuming he can get a release from Sarries, will he officially be the defence coach?

  • Comment number 38.

    On the plus side, SL has brought respect and shape to the team, and he needs to be allowed to make mistakes and develop the team in order to build up to a world cup.
    On the reserved side, England were very fortunate to scrape past Italy and Scotland in the 6N. Had England lost these two games, then the complection would have been vastly different.
    SL needs some breathing space now, particularly by the media and the upper echelons of the RFU, so let him get on with it.
    Some reservations that Mallett didnt get the job, as his Afrikaans would have helped with team communications!

  • Comment number 39.


  • Comment number 40.

    On a day English cricket joined football in the dark ages at least one of the three major sports appears to moving in the right direction. Even if we lose 3-0 (which I don't think we will) I know what I want to watch this summer.

    Good luck Stuart and continue to Make us proud

  • Comment number 41.

    I'm glad Lancaster has got the job, to many people talk about C.V's and honours at club level.
    What was Clive Woodwards C.V when he took over at Twickers?

    International Rugby Union (as well as other international team sports) is completely different from coaching at Club level, it's much more about man management, team spirit and discipline because it's harder to achieve this at International level due to the lack of time spent together compared to Club rugby.
    You are given the choice of the best talent in the country, then you have to pick your system and style of play and mould them into a bond which is the same as a club side.
    All the Successful International coaches have been able to do this irrevelvant of their 'previous'
    This is Stuart Lancaster.

    Good Luck, Come on England!
    It's not always the 'Star of the moment' who is the best choice.

  • Comment number 42.

    good choice by RFU; front row looks to be building nicely for RWC 2015, although Hartley seems only to be one wind up away from a ban, he's comfortably the best hooker in England, and Mullan and Marler should have 10+ caps by then. Would worry if Cole was injured, Stevens is good prop but not in Cole's class at TH.
    Locks/Back row- Palmer may be too old by then, Botha as well, Attwood? Parling and Morgan finds of 6N, Croft reborn, Wood, Robshaw.
    Youngs needs consistency - Care would be first choice if he could keep out of trouble- but 10 looks stronger than for years, Farrell, Flood, Ford.
    Centre Tuilagi plus a Greenwood c 2002 please, back three looks exciting, althought Ashton needs to improve defence. More hopeful than at any time post 2003, well done SL. think we will win at least one test in SA if first choice XV are fit





    Dickson ( Care if sober)
    Turner Hall

  • Comment number 43.

    Really happy for Stuart Lancaster - good luck to him.

    However, there is lot of work to be done to take the team forward - in particular, it is important that Farrell does not get the backs job. He still has a lot to learn and the Saracens game plan is so limited - and did find its way on to the field for England in the six nations.

    But the biggest issue is using the youth.

    Our under 20s have appeared in three of the last four under 20s world cup. Whilst Australia and New Zealand were quick to blood their youngsters - Johnson failed miserably, turning to Julian White, Ayoola Arinle, Jamie Noon and others.

    It is important that Lancaster fasttracks the quality players and give them exposure - like Kurtley Beale, O'Connor, Franks et al.

    It is also important that Lancaster manages the squad very well and gives form players a chance to gain experience. For example, Brown should have started at least two Six Nations games - we know what Foden can do, and he was fairly limited.

    Finally, England need to get a southern hemisphere backs coach. We have been far too stale for far too long. Smith was useless, and Farrell has developed Saracens to use their defence as their main attacking weapon. This is too restrictive for England. We need some genuine innovation and insight and someone to get the most out of our brilliant youngsters.

    Lancaster seems like a superb option to oversee the future though.

    Good stuff.

  • Comment number 44.

    I search in vain for someone to mention the word 'skill'. The very reason there will be very slim pickings against any of the SH teams.

    As for drawing the line under 2003, the forward dominated tactics of this year's 6Nations looked very familiar.

    And as a casual observation, interesting that so many players publicly declared their 'love' for SL. In the business world noises of 'conflict of interest' would be made.

  • Comment number 45.

    Snowlord, I'm not sure why you singled me out in that comment it or not, few teams are made up of "home born players". The All Blacks especially become the second home of many pacific islanders. Wales is no exception. Rupert Moon for example?

  • Comment number 46.

    #41 bet few people know who Dwayne Dibbley is...but cool!

  • Comment number 47.

    Lancaster deserves his appointment. He significantly lifted the team's performance in the Six Nations and he has the support of his current squad. His main challenge will be to strengthen it with the addition of one or two strike runners. James Simpson-Daniel is the strike runner Premiership teams fear most, so I fervently hope Lancaster picks him.

  • Comment number 48.


  • Comment number 49.

    Think this is could be a huge mistake unless they get him a good back room team. He's got them wanting to play but no signs at all of actually being creative. Then again, a great defence is a good start to it.

  • Comment number 50.

    44, I guess the reasom noboody is mentioning "skill" is because the ability to develop players skills is IMO almost irrelevant on the CV of an international coach. If a player has reached international level with gaps in their range of skills, then a coach who access to the players for about 10 weeks per year is not going to make a significant difference. The job of the coach is to fit the players available into a system, and to create the right attitude amongst the squad.

    Talk of drawing a line, is more about a changing of the guard amongst the squad, at the last world cup several of the England Squad had been around since 2003, and many more had been around since 2007. We now have a fresh squad, where the "senior" players (the likes of Croft, Cole, Foden) are in their mid 20s, rather than mid 30s.

    As for "conflict of interest", your view of the business world is very naive, given the number of people who walk into very lucrative jobs based purely on having friends in high places - sadly it is a fact of life.
    On the other hand, a manager (or coach) who commands respect from those who work under him is a positive thing. In sport it is even more true - if a coach loses the dressing room then they are a liability, no matter what other talents they have.

    #43 I don't see why you are complaining about Foden. Brown is unlucky, given his club, form not to be an England regular, but the fact is that Foden is a top class full back, who looks totally at home in international rugby. Brown, despite his form, is the more limited player. Unless Foden suffers injury or complete loss of form, he will be keeping the 15 jersey.

  • Comment number 51.

    #45 Coarsesportsman
    ...Rupert Moon? Your going back a long way now! He first played for Wales in 1991, that's over 20 years ago. His last cap, his 24th, was nearly 12 years ago.

    What I think, Snowlord and many others inc myself, are concerned with is this. Most young players dream of playing for their "home" country, England, Wales, NZ etc.
    A lot of hard work is put into developing them. Most are taken to training by their parents or their unpaid Under 8s, U10s, u14s etc coaches picks them up. They, if lucky go on to become professional rugby playing adults who put in hard work at training and make many sacrifices to follow their dream. How do you think they, and everyone involved with their development, feel when someone who has developed in another country comes along, stays 2 years to qualify for e.g. in England, Wales etc and destroys the dream.
    I say fair enough to a person who is born elswhere, but has developed his rugby skills in the country he ends up playing for. But to move to another country to play international rugby, because they are not good enough for their country of origin, or because the pay is better elswhere, is in fact leaving the development of rugby in their home country down, and making a farce of the system in their new country.
    Maybe to address this, IMO an increase of he number of "qualifying years" should be addressed and increased from 2 years to 5 or even 10 years.
    Please, this is not a racial issue, it is a rugby matter, one which concerns the development of rugby in new rugby developing countries. I'm told, Jim Telfer, ex- Scotland, along with other ex players and coaches, has been doing much development of our game in Asia of late. Good on him/them.

  • Comment number 52.

    One comment I fail to see is that yes Stuart Lancaster lacks international experience, but how is he supposed to gain the experience that everyone seems to think he needs if he is not given the chance to coach at the highest level.

    I just hope the RFU have the courage of their convictions and allow him to do the job for the term of his contract.

    Also that he has the determination to continue on the course he laid out in the 6N's namely developing a squad of good quality young players and making them into a team that can challenge for the RWC in 2015.

    I believe he deserves the chance given the 6N performances we saw this year and only with him the very best as England Head Coach

  • Comment number 53.

    Seems a brave choice in view of limited experience. I suggest - along with bleublack - that he will need more support, especially in building attack skills and vision. Probably from down under as our local top league is all about not conceding. And he will also need to tell his bosses and others at the RFU that their job is just to give him what he needs. Nothing else; no sniping and withholding support.

  • Comment number 54.


  • Comment number 55.

    It's the right decision for the right reasons. England now have an excellent chance of finishing second to Wales again in 2013. I also think they will beat Fiji.

  • Comment number 56.

    Alistair, without doubt Lancaster has turned the ship around, England are on the right track with a young team. It disappoints me that because of Lancaster's lack of experience at the top level he is not taken to be a big hitter. Right man for the job, glad the RFU for once have applied common sense.

  • Comment number 57.

    It's a hard job being Coach of England and I can't see any better candidate than SL. I, like many, was a little bemused at his interim appointment but in heinsight this looks like a stooke of genious (can't believe I'm saying that about the RFU!!)

  • Comment number 58.

    #50 John
    I believe that Sir Clive built strong links with the Premiership coaches and made sure that they were aware of his requirements for the elite squad, which included specific skills, fitness, diet and so on. I think it would be to the benefit of all concerned if the national coaching setup provided direction and support for the clubs in this manner. I seem to remember Graham Henry talking about the same thing when he was in charge of Wales.

    #51 Roy Jones
    So much depends on the age at which the player changes country. England has traditionally been open to immigration, so it is quite common to find a variety of countries of birth in any group or community. There are some sporting 'imports' who came to the UK specifically to further their careers (Kevin Pietersen springs to mind), for others it happened more by chance. I would feel very uncomfortable having to decide which of those two situations pertains in a given case.

    The fact that the RFU have brought in a chief executive from outside is encouraging, especially since the word from his previous appointment is that he is a safe pair of hands and nobody's patsy. Add to this the fact that Mr Lancaster will report directly to the Chief Executive, and I think that the 57 old f*rts will have less opportunity to meddle. Which is a good thing.

    #57 Waz
    The reason for the interim appointment was that the RFU wanted the new chief exec. to be heavily involved in the appointment of the new coach, and Mr Ritchie wasn't available until March.

    I wonder how many potential candidates chose not to apply because it would have meant walking away from their clubs mid-season ?

  • Comment number 59.

    I would just like to say I'm very pleased with the appointment of Stuart and for England, he really is the man to keep Wales on our toes! he's bought respect and honor back to England after an embarrassing world cup.
    May we have many fantastic games to come from our great nations.
    Good luck England for your upcoming tour.

  • Comment number 60.


    I respect both your opinions, it's good to have a proper discussion. I do tend towards frivolity in posts for which please excuse me.

    Ceddars #58 has, to my mind, already made my reply (rather better than I would have), so I'm going to digress.

    I'm afraid my rugby following dates back to the seventies, so the Rupert Moon comment didn't seem that long ago when I made it. However, I do have a feeling that qualifying residency was 6 years in those days, perhaps someone could confirm or correct me.

    I used to be a regular at Nottingham RFC and we briefly had an interesting half back pair from Cambridge Uni comprising Moon's brother Brendan and a bloke called Rob something or other. Sadly, the latter got offered a good job in London on the basis that "...if you fancy a game of rugger, toddle along to Wasps, there's a good chap..."

    Like I said, frivolous digressions...

  • Comment number 61.

    There is a long road ahead to the 2015 WC, Some victories, some loses. Good luck to SL and the England squad, do us proud.

    Good luck to all the NH teams touring is summer, hopefully we can dent the pride of the SH teams a little.

  • Comment number 62.

    Its very interesting that th epeople who really matter, the players are all 100% behind the new coach when those pundits with vested interests are all being very guarded and circumspect in their remarks. I say good for you Mr Lancaster you did a great job in the 6 Nations, the ugys obviously want to follow your lead so go fir it. From strength to strength!

  • Comment number 63.

    In your caption: Lancaster (centre) celebrates the win over Ireland with Ben Morgan and Tom Croft... the player on the left is not Ben Morgan, it's Brad Barritt...

  • Comment number 64.

    Congrats to Stuart Lancaster on getting the job - your performance in this year's 6N's certainly merited the appointment. However, as a Welshman I can honestly say that playing on team spirit alone will only get you so far; and I do think that England need more flair and creativity if they are to ultimately succeed. Still it is very early days and the improvement since that idiot Johnson's demise is there for all to see.

  • Comment number 65.

    @64 Akarataff- bit harsh calling Johnson an idiot and pretty offensive if I may say. A superb player in his time who had a superb record as a captain deserves a bit more respect than being referred to as an idiot!

  • Comment number 66.

    snowLordPumpkin: Ref the non-English born players. I get your point and even agree to a certain extent but lets not think that England are the worlds worst for this or thats its something new. At the pre-WC game in Cardiff Wales had the same number of non-Welsh born players as England did (including a lot of English born). On the flip side I remember watching Jon Callard play for Welsh schoolboys against France in the very early 80's and England World Cup winner Dorian West is a Wrexham lad. Unfortunately we all know that the All Blacks wouldn't be the side they are without their foreign players and as long as the All Blacks want to get away with something they IRB will allow it.

  • Comment number 67.

    @65 Fair point Numbnuts and no offence intended. I suppose the point that I was trying to make is that anyone, regardless of success as a player, who can take the reigning 6N's champions into a show-piece tournament such as the World Cup; and allow them to behave as they did without criticising or disciplining his players, and allow them to play without any passion, belief or even a recognised game-plan, clearly showed his lack of ability as a manager. I don't know much about Lancaster, but the 'Esprit de Corps' that England adopted during this last tournament only highlights Johnno's failings further. Again, no offence was intended with my pervious post.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good decision and hopefully he can teach his players to play rugby within the rules and not behave like thugs ie no biting and to tackle without the sole purpose of trying to injure the opposition. I wish him and the genuine English rugby players all the best the thug element should be dropped ASAP

  • Comment number 69.


    Have to agree. The Boks are rebuilding too, no Matfield et al. There's no such thing as an easy tour of SA and Mayer is probably the coach they should have had years ago but a young, up for it, defensively sound England side prepared to give it a go have a chance, particularly as the first Test is at sea level. Unusually kind of SARFU that!

  • Comment number 70.

    I have no confidence whatsoever in the bomber

  • Comment number 71.

    I read with dismay, once again, the subject of players' origins.
    First of all, which country isn't guilty of this?
    Secondly, where exactly would you draw the line - birth, childhood, formative years, junior, club or representative rugby in another country? It is a dangerous issue, draw the line too high and we start looking at a player's family history, "His grandmother was Welsh, so he can't play for England!". I know this is an extreme example but I think you can see my point, a more stringent rule may well be preferable to many but it would still have grey areas, not least within the UK and Ireland.
    Final point, the developing nations would have to adhere to the same rules and would find them tough to live with, for example Italy. Who moans about them fielding players from Aus, Argentina, SA etc? No-one, as they aren't a real threat - yet. Take away these players and it would arguably set them back even further.
    In summary then, there has to be a line, it has been drawn and all any international coach can do is pick the best players available to him within this framework.
    Now, can we get back to the blog's subject? Congrats to SL, best man for the job. Flair and creativity will hopefully follow, he would have been a fool for basing his game around that from day one. And please, "idiot Johnson"?? Maybe not a good coach, he was thrust into the post out of panic. But one of the best players and captains to step onto the field, so please have a little respect.

  • Comment number 72.

    @70 You may be right SLSC15, but after England's performance in coming second in the 6N's (a position where no-one hosestly expected them to attain), he deserves a chance.

  • Comment number 73.

    Good appointment. As said previously there appears to be a sense of optimism now around England and a lot of that is down to Lancaster and the choices he has made. It is really important that he now gets a coaching set up that he wants. I think over the 5 games of the 6 nations the attacking aspect of the team developed well but I would expect him to get a specialised attacking coach now he's the permanent man.

    Best of luck and hopefully he can make England the team to fear again.

  • Comment number 74.

    As Stuart Barnes has been saying, the 6 nations was very weak (highlighted by the fact Wales won it), personally I don’t think we looked any different from the MJ regime, just younger and more committed. I can't remember seeing one back move in the whole tournament. We'll see Mr L, you may have proved yourself to the RFU, but you haven’t proved anything to me yet.

  • Comment number 75.

    It is heartening to see that fans are excited about this appointment. He deserves his chance and, to be honest, as long as I see 100% effort, a style of play developing and a team being grown and trained that will suit me fine. To be honest I do not care if he loses 6 out of the 7 tests. That makes no difference to me (though it would be a shame) as long as we see progress, development of style and ethics and a 'style'n that represents this wonderful country. I do hope the media give him the time he deserves and do not do the usual knee-jerk reactions to sell papers. Even if they do I think the fans should stay strong and the RFU to back him and say no-one will make any assessments until after the world cup. That they support him and will give him the time to develop both the team (and his own style) and himself.

  • Comment number 76.

    @67Akarataff - very well put. I couldn't agree more with what you said. I guess he was too loyal and friendly to some of the old guard he had played with.

  • Comment number 77.

    I thought the selection panel was an intriguing mix of characters and would be fascinated to hear something of their discussions as they arrived at the decision, however I cannot argue with the appointment. My friend and I have been sitting at Twickers for the last 20 years enjoying English rugby through the peak of 2000 to 2003 and despairing like all other England supporters as the last 6 or 7 years have unfolded. This 6 Nations we could finally say we have a "Team" again, not a finished product by any means but at least a start, 15 guys with a common purpose, a commitment and signs of understanding and cohesion. Great positive signs and long may that continue.

    Lancaster has obviously instilled something in the players that they have bought into and are ready to deliver with. I am encouraged by his previous Saxons experience and therefore his knowledge of younger players in the country and hope he has the power and the courage to influence that link to ensure development continues. Giving Corbisiero and Farrell their opportunity is a massive signal to all aspiring rugby players.

    I think SL has the respect of many in the rugby community and will therefore be able to build strong links with Premier League teams which will be a crucial component going forward.

    My hope and expectation is that he remains open minded and visionary about who and what he needs in his coaching team and has the full backing of Richie and the RFU to go and get who he wants. Not sure if Andy Farrell is the right man, Sarries are a succesful side but a very limited game plan. The rugby world is a big place and SL needs to have a touch of Clive's vision and genius (madness we called it at the time!) to think big.

    I have confidence that Lancaster can do a big job and am looking forward to the battles and challenges ahead, it will be a rocky road but relishing it more than any other time in the last few years

  • Comment number 78.

    As far as touring SA goes this is as good an opportunity as England are ever going to get. New coach, new captain, new side for SA. SA would not have played together as a team and will be in the middle of super rugby. If Heyneke Meyer had been made coach a few years ago (as he should have been) the boks would have slipped straight into "blue bull" mode - with Vic Matfield, Fourie du Preez, Bakkies Botha, Danie Rosouw and other bulls stalwarts driving the ship and being extremely difficult to beat. Now Heyneke has lost most of his golden generation of bulls to the lure of the yen, the euro or the farm and is going to have a relativey inexperienced side. In saying that... I still think what ever combination the boks pull together will be man for man stronger than england, and will come out on top, but could still be close!

  • Comment number 79.

    It's encouraging to see such support for this new appointment. And as already noted - honeymoon over! SA on their turf will give us a real examination in June, whatever team they put out - my South African friends are already talking about this.

    We've seen the work ethic, humility, 'homespun northenness' and all the good stuff and apparent halting naivety in dealing with the press, but we should not underestimate how tough and clever Stuart Lancaster is. I heard Nicky Campbell interviewing him this morning and in his usual (Nicky) way he fired of three forceful questions, trying to get Stuart to comment on the goings on in NZ during the WRC. With the aplomb of the most seasoned politician Stuart, without drawing breath, just sailed past these and took the interview onto his own ground - Campbell never spoke again - Well done Stuart.

  • Comment number 80.


    excellent post as usual.

  • Comment number 81.

    'Support, Lancaster is the right man but his success will be strongly influenced by who he has with him, both above and below. Johnson was let down by those above and those beneath were annonymous.'

    100% agree.
    I have very little trust in the RFU! Their judgement has to be seriously brought into question leaving Martin Johnson so blatently exposed, they totally let Johnson down.
    I wonder how Lancaster will fare when the chips are down (as they surely will be at some point)? Will he get the backing he deserves, I have my doubts?
    That aside I wish Stuart Lancaster all the best, he is the right man for the future of the England rugby team.

  • Comment number 82.

    @74 - SuperLeedsetc - I am never quite sure how it is determined whether a 6N is weak or not. Seems to me that whenever Wales win a GS the 6N is said to be "weak". I speak as an Englishman and think that is grossly unfair. You say nothing different from MJ era apart from "younger and more committed" but isn't that precisely what was needed. The creativity will hopefully follow. Give me a team that will die for the cause any day and who consider it is "an honour and priviledge" to pull that shirt on.

  • Comment number 83.

    I find the prediction of play 7 lose 6 incredibly bizarre given the recent NH teams performances against SH teams....

    Wales should have beaten SA in the World cup which would arguably have lead to NZ vs Wales and France vs Ireland in the semi's.

    I agree that SA in South Africa is difficult however I would be incredibly disappointed not to win at least 2 out of the 4 twickenham fixtures and feel 3 out of 4 would be acceptable, 4 out of 4 is clearly the aim but too early to be realistic.

    If we lose 6 out of the 7 I would hope we will look at the manner of the defeats...

    To put things in perspective in terms of the NH/SH divide!!

    And if we are totally honest, but for some very interesting referreeing, and 1 good move from a line out NZ could and possibly should have lost the last world cup final (they were the best team throughout the tournament but not in the final) I also felt Wales deserved to have got to the final but for awesome defence in the last ten minutes of the semi by France and the red card.... and I genuinely believe they would have caused NZ problems too.

    I appreciate this is not directly related to the appointment of SL but when will SH teams fans admit that they are only numbers 1,2 and 3 in the world ranking because of the tri-nations (they play each other twice a year thus picking up ranking points each time) Look at the last world cup and the results

    NZ 8 France 7
    NZ 37 France 17
    SA 17 Wales 16
    Aus 6 Ireland 15
    Arg 9 England 13

    So 3 - 2 to the SH and this was played in NZ, apart from France's first round nightmare the NH won their matches by an average of 6.5 points and the SH by 1 point..... The gap has closed

    I would love England to reclaim the world cup but if they don't I would like a minimum of 3 NH teams in the semi's..... :) I feel this would reflect the development that has been made in the NH.

  • Comment number 84.

    @74 & @ 82

    The Johnson Regime - An example of this was picking Jonny Wilkinson (in my opinion one of England's greatest sportsmen ever but in 2011 past his best and ready to retire - oh he did retire!), Mike Tindall (why was he in the squad at all - apart from leading the boozing), Lewis Moody as captain (not match fit and ready to retire - oh he did retire!), Toby Flood at centre for the crucial game against France (when he was our best No 10) and allowing a senior player to be overtly careless with the truth and doing nothing overtly about it. I believe that Martin Johnson was another of England's greatest sportsmen and admire him greatly for what he did as a captain and player but as seen often in football great players do not always make great managers - the brilliant courageous sergeant who leads the men over the top may not make a good general.

    On a similar tack I remember watching the build up to the WRC game against France and the great Lawrence Dallaglio observing sagely (words to the effect) " ..... ah yes - we are right to play Jonny against the French - they are terrified by him - he always plays well against the French...." - above point proven. At the time a Welsh 'wag' emailed in to say (words to the effect) "Gareth Edwards was the best player in the world but we don't pick him any more".

  • Comment number 85.

    Successful teams are built around a solid defence.

    Once that is in place you become hard to beat.

    Only then can you look to add flair to the mix, and then you have to balance the two.

    It's not a thing that can be done overnight, and we need to pace the expectations accordingly.

  • Comment number 86.

    Good luck to Stuart Lancaster and the team. Really pleasing to see an England with pride in the shirt and playing for each other.

    Regarding Dylan Hartley, I hear that he was being pulled out of the ruck by his head/neck. Given Ireland's constant dirty play with the choke tackle where by usually a green shirted arm keeps the player off the ground by wrapping an arm round the opposing players neck - I wonder if Hartley was just protecting himself. The irony of an Ireland player complaining about foul play is laughable.

  • Comment number 87.

    Too right, HM, Apart from French NZ teams, all the best are built on strong deffense.

    The Aussies 1999-2001, Saffers in 1998 and 2009, and the great England teams of 2000-2003 and Carling's led squads all had better deffense than attack. This Welsh team to, for that matter.

  • Comment number 88.

    Congratulations to Stuart Lancaster, an English coach for the England team and a very fine one too ! Six nations proved so much, bring in some great young talent install in them the value and pride of playing international rugby, and bring in solid discipline along the way. I felt somewhat sorry for Martin Johnson, the players or at least some of them let him down badly when it really mattered. New coach, young players a very fine coaching staff, onwards and upwards. England can be the best again of that I'm sure.

  • Comment number 89.

    Pete, I think Johnno's problem was that he was mates with some of the more experienced players, Moody obviously though he has always set a good example, one sending off aside. But Tindal? What do you want to bet that Tindall and Johnno went out drinking toggether at some point, I would hope so too, the players even called him Johhno.

    Not good.

  • Comment number 90.

    #83 - you missed the third place playoff game Aus 21 Wales 18, so make that 4-2 SH. Take Argentina out the mix and you are back to one 1 win out of 5 for the 6 nations teams against the big 3 southern hemisphere teams in the world cup.. a truer reflection of how things stand in the NH / SH debate. (If you do include Argentina, whilst they lost to England they did beat Scotland)

    Also - if you want to pull stats into the equation - one worth noting for this blog is that SA have won their last 7 games against England (since November 2006) and 5 of those 7 games were played in the NH...

  • Comment number 91.

    @83JohnSoutham you raise a very interesting point about World rankings and how they arrived at. I know we are swerving away from the subject of the blog but is there anybout there who can explain how the rankings work?

  • Comment number 92.

    Its going to be mathmatical based on an elapsed periods results, perhaps 2 years,

    And remember England in those 2 years have won a 6 nations also, won in Austrailia and at home too. Only lost 4 games in the last 18 months, those figures may flatter to deceive a little, but they are corect and what the rankings are based on.

  • Comment number 93.

    @85: You're spot on regarding the importance of prioritising defence in the international game. Andy Farrell can clearly do this (if released by Sarries) but neither England during the 6N or Sarries over the past two years have shown the sort of subtlety in attack required to beat the SA, NZ or the Aussies. If you watch a Super 15 game (yes the defence can be laughable), what stands out is the slick handling, the ambition to play running rugby, and degree of finesse that is missing from all northern hemisphere teams (yes Wales, you too).

    Get Rowntree on board, get Farrell for defence, get Wayne Smith for attack/skills. Without him (or equivalent) the best we can hope for is a game plan similar to SA in 2007. Positional and attritional. Please let's give the talent that is in the Premiership the opportunity to show that there does exist within our fair nation genuinely exciting rugby players, and that 'flair' is not just limited to the French (who have showed little of it recently) or the Welsh (effective game plan but little in the way of genuine creativity). In case that provokes the Welsh posters in claiming that we are sore losers regarding the 6N... you won, you were the best team, deserved it BUT as many people have rightly pointed out, it was built on a powerful back row and a powerful backline, not vintage 70s running rugby.

    To win in 2015 the northern hemisphere teams need to add variety to their games. I'm sure Wales will, I just hope England get the right people in to give us a chance as well.

  • Comment number 94.

    Great blog. Looks like England are going to have considerably more trouble snatching Andy Farrell away from Saracens though. They probably have a greater interest in how South Africa do on the international stage!

    Really think Lancaster will be a great appointment. He leads well, has a rapport with the players and shows vision. I particularly enjoyed his 'pyramid of success idea'. Gave an insight into how he planned England's transformation into ta consistently top side.

  • Comment number 95.

    I think the English FA should look at the RFU's decision as a source of inspiration when trying to appoint the new manager post Euro2012. The RFU have taken a risk, in as much as appointing a relatively inexperienced man to the most important post in the game, but if the 6N performances are anything to go by they've certainly made the right decision imo.

    I think we saw a genuine improvement from game to game throughout the 6N. A defensive first approach was the correct way to go about the initial couple of matches, far better to win narrowly than lose spectacularly when trying to build a new team, get the fans back on board and to build momentum. Progressively the backs came into matches more and more, culminating in some quite fluid ball in hand moments towards the latter stages of the tourny. An element to the game much forgotten under Johnson stewardship.

    His gamble in blooding the future generation, in what was essentially a no-pressure 6N, was a masterstroke (although i suppose this may have been dictated by the RFU somewhat). In Owen Farrell i think we have a number 10 to be excited about, he has that rare something that sets him aside from the more safety first alternatives deployed by Johnson in the past. Alongside some other very promising young players eager to make their mark i hope we see England start to build an identity for themselves once again.

    Whilst I'm not expecting England to win all of the tests this year i do hope to see a steady progression throughout 2012, hopefully culminating in an optimistic 6N next time around.

  • Comment number 96.

    Well said 95, agree with some of what you're saying but you seem to be a Man Utd fan ergo ultimately wrong about everything.

  • Comment number 97.

    for me its the right choice - theres a reason why the people and players like him - he's turned the team around in a matter of months and almost won the 6n on the back of it. this isnt a 'people's choice' like gareth jenkins appointed as welsh coach (who I never wanted; there was a reason why he was rightly passed over by mike ruddock); its based on his sterling job as caretaker. I would have thought this was an easy choice for the RFU.

    no doubts tougher times are ahead and I'm sure the honeymoon is over but lancaster strikes me as his own man with a vision to move forward. he needs the right team around him (and i think the RFU should do what it takes to get farrell on board). I'm surprised that some people on here have already written off the SA tour. even if england were to lose (and i think they have a chance of winning), the making of great teams are always due, in part, to losing along the way.

    this will no doubts make for a good 2013 6n and an even better british lions tour

  • Comment number 98.

    I firmly believe if MJ was still at the helm, England would have comfortabley won the 6N. The so called 'old gaurds' would have been a much appreciated force in terms of closing the games out and creating tries.

    I lie obviously, however I have resevations about the bomber. He needs to stop mentioning the words 'culture' and 'belief' 50 times in one interview! Drives me mad...

  • Comment number 99.

    numbnuts i'll try on the ranking. They are based on a points rating exchange system and the IRB website explains how it works. I think they are about right for the top 8 apart from Wales who should be in 4th and England 5th. Points are exchanged, with extras for away wins 15 point margins etc. The RWC threw things out of kilta as it gave double rating points, which is why Tonga are so high up for beating France and not playing since. That French loss to Tonga penalised Wales excessively in the semi as France were lower due to that loss than they should have been, but ended the RWC in 2nd due to making the final. England essentially played France while they were in 3rd spot and wales when they are in 6th so Wales's problem with the ratings is directly related to the timing of their French games in short in that they didn't get as many points out of France as England did. So France are to blame...

  • Comment number 100.

    @99 clear off to a welsh article, no need for you to be spamming this blog.

    You also forget to mention Wales also lost to south africa and australia, whereas england only lost to France in the World cup. 3 defeats to 1, I can really see why wales should be above the mighty whites!


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