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Purple England left with red faces

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Tom Fordyce | 19:58 UK time, Saturday, 14 November 2009

England's purple new kit, we were told before the Argentina match, was the most advanced rugby kit ever - 27% lighter than the last one, specially designed to make them harder to tackle and fleeter of foot.

If that's really true, we can only be grateful they weren't wearing the old one. Saturday wasn't so much the start of a new purple patch for English rugby as a mauve mess. While other teams develop and improve, England appear to be a side marooned.

"A win's a win," goes the old sporting adage, but the 75,000 people at Twickenham who witnessed the 16-9 squeak past a spirited Argentine side might feel like disagreeing. This was a performance so dispiriting that some England fans didn't know whether to boo or sob.

The first 40 minutes may just have been the poorest half of rugby England have ever been involved in. That they improved in the second half was a relief, but how could they not?

First, the positives. Lewis Moody had his second stormer in eight days. James Haskell and Mark Cueto justified their places. England scored a try, and just about hung on for a desperately-needed victory. Beyond that? There is no beyond that.

Error followed error. Aimless kick followed aimless kick. At half-time the scoreboard said 9-9, but you could have been forgiven for thinking it read 999 instead.

So fed up were the home supporters that many decided to make their own entertainment by firing paper darts at the pitch. The biggest cheer during the first 50 minutes came when one sailed all the way into the Argentine 22, in the process going several metres further than any England attack had.

Martin JohnsonMartin Johnson can barely bring himself to watch at Twickenham

That England came away with the victory does no more than paper over the gaping cracks. If there's a vision behind this team it's a blurred one. If there's a masterplan it's brilliantly disguised.

Some of the problems are selectorial. Ugo Monye is not an international full-back, and his calamitous catalogue of knock-ons and shaky spills of high balls should have seen Argentina ahead at the break.

Others are tactical. Possession was kicked away, generally straight down the throats of the eager Argentine backs. The three-quarters went sideways, running without angle or guile, and there was an almost complete absence of imagination or off-the-cuff creativity.

"We analysed how England were going to play," said Argentina's impressive skipper Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe afterwards, "and they didn't surprise us."

Jonny Wilkinson, his side's best player against Australia last week, was uncharacteristically off-key. More worryingly, his nascent partnership with Shane Geraghty showed no sign of bearing the fruits their combined talents suggest.

All around, there were basic mistakes. Monye dropped three punts in a row, Wilkinson put a drop-out straight into touch and then failed to find the line with a penalty from hand. When England found space and an overlap out on the right, Dan Hipkiss's pass flew into thin air with Monye dawdling 10 metres off the pace. Cueto even dropped a water-bottle lobbed to him by Jon Callard.

Excuses? Conditions weren't great, but neither were they disastrous. The rain held off for the full 80 minutes; the wind that battered the outside of the stadium generally failed to penetrate the enclosed bowl within.

Martin Johnson is not a man to take a pummelling without throwing a few swingers back himself. Normally in his post-match press conferences he's combative and unyielding, but on Saturday evening even this old fighter had the look of a man on the ropes.

"It was pretty difficult to watch at times," he admitted. "Ultimately, it's about winning the game, which we did, but it wasn't great. I can't come off after a performance like that and pretend it was good, because it wasn't."

At half-time a fair proportion of the Twickenham crowd booed their team off the pitch. For a man who as a player led his country to Grand Slam and World Cup triumphs, it must have been a wretched sound to hear.

"We probably deserved it," he said glumly. "They had every right not to be happy."

When asked where England had gone wrong, Johnson shrugged with resignation and ran through a list that threatened to be as endless as that awful first half.

"There were times when we could have kept the ball in play and we didn't." "We had virtually no territory." "When we kicked the chase wasn't good enough - that put the pressure right back on us, and we didn't handle that very well. "

There was more. "They squeezed us at the scrummage at times - if they'd been kicking on target it could have been very different." "At times we kicked it too long." "I think the team got a bit nervous. As the match goes on and on and it's level on the scoreboard it gets more and more tense, and frustration can really kill you if you let it."

And so it went on. You couldn't disagree with any of it. "We got done on the blind-side too many times in the first half." "Errors really, really hurt us. You saw what happened. They happen in games, but we made far too many." "We didn't help ourselves by being turned over so often."

This, let's remember, was against an Argentina side that hasn't played together for five months, a side featuring four amateur players and a three-quarter line stripped of its brightest and most experienced talents.

Of course England have had injury problems too, but they also have financial and playing resources that the Argentines can only dream of. It's no coincidence that England did what little damage they did after an hour's rugby had been played, when their superior fitness and depth of their bench began to tell.

England, less we forget, have been in camp for three weeks. They were playing at home. Argentina have been together for less than a week. For almost a third of their side, this was their first taste of Test rugby, let alone playing in front of 75,000 people at one of the game's most famous grounds.

Lobbe refused to make any of the obvious excuses afterwards. "I cannot say what would happen if we had a game before or three weeks together," he said smiling, "because I am not a wizard."

At the same time, the fact that he was so disappointed not to walk away with a draw or win spoke volumes for how the rest of the rugby world now views England.

"We could have won at Twickenham," he said flatly. "We're frustrated that by making one mistake we lost this game. We said in the dressing-room afterwards - this is our level now."

Even after Matt Banahan's try looked to have made the game safe, there was still time for England to almost throw it away. With Argentina out on their feet England returned to the purposeless kicking game of the first half and invited their plucky opponents to attack them one final time.

For three minutes the Pumas were camped five metres from the try-line, one bludgeoning drive or slipped tackle away from a try and possible parity. Had they broken through, those purple shirts would have been underneath some very red faces.

"In the end we were fighting for about three inches of Twickenham," said Johnson, gloomily. "We could have lost the match."

Those inches might have been held, but England have barely advanced more than a couple of yards under Johnson's command. They remain stranded in no-man's land, open to attack from the big guns, as far from the big breakthrough as they were 12 months ago.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks are racing into view. It is not a good place to be.


  • Comment number 1.

    Right Tom me again,

    Now what did I saw last week? I seem to remember a fair amount of pooh poohing?

    People are focusing on the superficial flaws and ignoring the fundamental ones. Yes Wilkinson kicked poorly and Monye had a tough game but again most of these problems were caused by England's lack of ability to pressurise their opposition. You cannot set breakdown after breakdown and expect the opposition to let you somehow run through them. Speed is the key and in and around the breakdown we treat speed as an enemy. The best example in the whole game came when england were on the front foot with momentum and Steve Borthwick tried to pinch the ball from Hodgson, then only to let him play it after wasting the seconds that are important at this level. Why?

    The failings were so obvious it was painful. Monye isn't a full back and Wilkinson is not a great kicker out of hand. Why wait 50 minutes before sorting just one of the problems?

    The telling shots for me were of the England coaching staff looking puzzled as the same tactics they have applied for the past 5 years failed yet again to produce the desires results. I believe doing the same thing again and again and expecting different results qualifies as insanity.

    That performance was terrible. That Argentina team aren't even that good. Johnson is a personal hero of mine but that isn't good enough not by a long shot. The coaches have to think again about how England are playing the game. That or leave and let someone else have a go. I'll say it again England are playing as less than the sum of their parts. That's the fault of the coaches.

  • Comment number 2.

    There is a real danger that current England performances will impact upon the profitability of the game at the highest level and in tuirn reduce grants made to encourage growth at grassroots.

    The current England management team have undoubtedly been hampered by the worst crop of injuries that I can remember but that does not excuse the abject performance today against Argentina who were themselves shorn of their stars through injuries. I cannot recall when so many basic errors were madeby individuals. The current players seem unable to pass the ball in front of the receiver and at the right height - I think that the term is a sympathetic pass. even allowing for the poor passing the inability of players to catch and transfer the ball is just not good enough.

    Looking at individuals representing England today I am of the opinion that several do not merit selection:

    Borthwick - no presence on the pitch, takes the ball standing still and then gets knocked backwards and therefore should not be captain as he does not merit his place.

    Banahan - scored a try with a simple run in following a Moody pass which left him in the clear but apart from that he is out of his depth both defensively (cant catch a high ball and cant tackle his much smaller opposite number) and in attack where really it is a case of thud and blunder. He is only young and should be allowed to develop his game at club level and possibly with the Saxons.

    Monye - not a full back and never will be. A class winger (witness his displays for the Lions - although he was given good ball when playing in the summer) but poor positional play and a lack of confidence caused by selection out of position.

    Croft - a sensation in South Africa during the summer but the turgid slow recycling of ball mean that his greatest asset dynmism and speed cannot be brought to the party when playing for England.

    Geraghty - another youngster but not taking the ball flat enough because of the slow recycling at the breakdown. For Saints he is able to play flat and release players outside him.

    I could go on about many of the players but in reality a great deal of the blame must lie with the selection and the gameplans devised by the coaching team. The Southern Heisphere sides and the Lions competed ferociously at the breakdown and clear out players to release quick ball which is rapidly passed into open space thus enabling attackers to turn defenders. It would appear that Smith, Wells and co have failed to watch recordings of how it should be done. Instead they prefer to recycle ball close to rucks or mauls and we end up going nowhere.

    I really despair for the state of our game and think that they have had long enough to get it right. England are going backwards and the RFU should consider a clear out and look for some proven Southern Hemisphere input or perhaps some Scottish input. (Jake White and Geech spring to mind)

  • Comment number 3.

    England plaeyd better than the Argies who should be in 8th whilst Wales shoild be in 7th and England in 6th.

  • Comment number 4.


    you complain about geraghty not seeming as good at international level as he does at club level. might warren gatland be right when he says that premiership is not as good a competition as it used to be and so the difference in intensity between club and international rugby is too great for players to play for their country as they do for their clubs?

  • Comment number 5.


    If you had watched much rugby rather than listening to lound mouth Gatland you would have noticed Geraghty's best performances this season have come in the Heineken against opposition such as Munster.

    Blaming young talented players in their second start is pitiful and not going to help.

    There were good players out there today - and they played a terrible game.

  • Comment number 6.

    Yet another poor England performance, surprise surprise.

    Even taking in to consideration that a lot of our 'elite' starting line-up are currently injured, this was like watching a bunch of school-kids playing this afternoon. I'm saddened to say that I've lost a lot of faith in the England rugby team. Not only is it sad that we don't have the top quality players we used to, it's also sad that the whole essence of England Rugby has become a joke. Fundamentally speaking our national colours are red and white. So why on Earth are we wearing purple at Twickenham, our home ground? It may seem unimportant to some people but I feel it represents what England rugby has become, a huge money grabbing ploy, with very little rugby talent being produced as an end result. I was so appalled by the quality of the game this afternoon that I could not bare to watch the second half. To be honest Im glad I didn't waste the extra 40 minutes of my life. The people behind England Rugby need to take a long look at themselves after these performances.

  • Comment number 7.

    England were dire.

    They seem pretty much clueless as to how to play the game and are light years away from the southern hemispheres big guns. The tactical kicking out of hand is getting worse which I wouldn't of thought possible based on last weeks performance and any decent chase is sadly lacking.

    I'm unsure as to why our attacks are devoid of decoy runners and the players don't run from deep whereby they may have chance of breaking tackles by running at full speed and we seem so static considering London Irish produced such good rugby in last few years. The sky analysts said England seem to be coached for coachings sake at times which seem spot on they lack the ability to make decisions based on what's in front of them and Andrew and Johnson should start worrying.

    Monye is certainly not a fullback and Muliana and All Blacks will think Christmas come early next week if he's wearing the number 15 shirt! Borthwick is also out of his depth why is he captain? It's certainly not for his inspiration and based on last few years nor on his performances! Lawes and Kennedy should start next week.

    Finally to end on a positive Lewis Moody was class again and was head and shoulders Englands best player

  • Comment number 8.

    Johnny Wilkinson is arguable the greatest rugby player to set foot on a rugby pitch and barring injury would be the points record holder. But now he faces his biggest challenge, he is in charge of a rudderless team, no direction, no leaderships, no signal focus, even in 2007 they had a singular focus - they hated Brian Ashton.

    Steve Borthwick is no international captain, Shane Geraghty is no international 12 and Dan Hipkiss is no international 13, he is a 12! Hard hitting, tough tackling and sold in defence! I was taught as a rugby player that 10 set up the play, 12 protected the play, 13,14 11 where there to finish the play, and if it broke down 15 was there to clean up! This is the basic’s Martin Johnson has to return to or England can include a world cup winning captain in the same breath as a world cup winning coach Andy Robinson as failures of English rugby. The least said about the purple shirts the better! Just another travesty that has followed English rugby since 2003.

  • Comment number 9.

    Last Wednesday I went to Welford Road to watch Sedbergh School v Wellington College.The two teams provided us with a very good game of rugby far better than England came up with on Saturday maybe the England crew should have been there to pick a few tips up.

  • Comment number 10.

  • Comment number 11.

    Re Brian998 Wilkinson is not the best player ever though is quite probably the best goal kicker of all time

  • Comment number 12.

    I agree with some of the comments that have been made but why is there such a pervasive negativity.(BTW Steve Borthwick should definitely go!! Not inspirational and not talented can't build a team around him!)

    Lets not forget that most of our best attacking players are injured!!How many of the backline would actually or should actually start for England? Flutey, Armitage, Tindall, Ellis, Flood in the backs all missing. Why no Matt Tait?? possibly Englands best back in the 2007 World Cup Final...what short memories we have!
    Dan Hipkiss is not an international centre fullstop and Geraghty needs time but is a genuinely creative player. Would he start... its doubtful! an impact player, definitely!

    Looking beyond the selection issues. If you've played rugby then you'll know that it takes time to have special understanding in a team that leads to inspired, attractive rugby.
    This team is a scratch team. They haven't played at international level together....time time time...What we saw yesterday was a bunch of individuals who need time to gel.
    Time is what they need and don't have and the constant negativity that surrounds them cannot help them play better.

    As to Johnson well the jury is out but what I'm not convinced of is that he has that visionary capacity of a Clive Woodward that will extricate the team from the current mediocrity or that he surrounds himself with people who do!
    He bought in to Clive's vision but can he take a similar vision and implement it himself?... let alone take it to the next level?
    England were at the forefront of Rugby innovation under Woodwards leadership and the standards set and type of play were sometimes breathtaking. I believe Clive is the man for MJ's job!
    But even with CW you look back at the consistency in selection and the time given him to change English rugby(and amazing talent and work ethic of the players)and also the relative lack of injuries he had to cope with...then time is of the essence for the creation of a new rugby dynasty.
    Is Johnson the man? possibly not! but if not MJ then who? Lets beg Clive to come back!
    Having said all that 'Why are we always so impatient for success and a style of rugby that only comes through time'?

  • Comment number 13.

    Once again from this blog and the responses, a tirade of criticism of players and tactics without focusing on the primary issue - England are managed by a guy with no managerial experience. Is it any wonder that player selection and tactics are left wanting?

    As for the notion from Brian that Wilkinson is arguably the greatest player ever, I've rarely heard a more nonsensical claim in my life.

  • Comment number 14.

    Brian 998,
    Sorry....Dan Hipkiss!...just not the answer at no. 12. He lacks vision and creativity and doesn't have the skill set of a Shane Geraghty or more importantly Rikki Flutey. Not an international player in my opinion!

  • Comment number 15.

    I'm sorry, am actually riled slightly by the idea that Johnny Wilkinson is the best player of all time. This kind of blinkered arrogance that permeates through the team and management is a big part of why England struggle. I think they feel its their God-given right to be at the top of the game and as a result are not able to raise their game against an Argentina side that they see as below them.

    I think England need to get back to basics and could learn a lot from Southern Hemisphere rugby, but may not need to look further than Wales and Ireland to see what a little team work and getting the basics right can achieve.

  • Comment number 16.

    Whilst watching the game against Australia last week my drinking partner passed a comment that Martin Johnson shouldn't take all the blame as it is impossible to play good rugby without good players.
    After watching the painful display yesterday I cannot help but feel he was spot on.
    Just glad I saw it in the pub and didn't pay to sit in Twickenham.

  • Comment number 17.

    The amount of negativity stemming from here (both from the journalists and the commenting public) beggars belief. It took Ben Dirs just four minutes to pour scorn on the match, "not so great from England" within ten, "a load of old rubbish" on 28 minutes, "appalling first half of rugby" on 39 minutes, "worse than a pessimist's wildest dreams" early in the second half, contiuing with comments like "dinosaur stuff from Martin Johnson's side" and "just thinking about tomorrow's newspaper headlines is making me cringe". Eventually, he sums it up as a "dreadful game of rugby".

    Reality check here, people. You beat Argentina. That very dangerous Argentinian side that went so well at the World Cup. A win is a win. Look for some positives and stop being so undeniably negative.

  • Comment number 18. spend your time commenting on how poor england were but like someof the other guys on here you NEED to focus on the positives! Even though it feels like it we DIDN'T lose, we have a set of quality players who given time will gel and understand each other and hopefully start to fire the midfield and finally with the old warhorses of Steve Thompson, Lewis Moody and Jonny Wilkinson there is still alot of passion in the game and they will be hurting and hopefully they willfight back!!!

    last but not least...who ever started comparing how jonno is not enough like woodward.....i dont want him to be!!! woodward is a poor coach,just look at the lions 2005! He only succeded as the england team of 2003 had a 22 that played together and there was probaby 10 players who would have made a world 15! Give jonno time, he has a good rugby brain and maybe one week soon he will use it?!?!

  • Comment number 19.

    No better than this time last year in fact I dont think the present england team is as good, we have had a year now of we need to do this or we need to do that and the players now this and that, WELL I DONT THINK SO no body in the present set up sems to have any Know how at all its time to start again was this not the idea last year ?

  • Comment number 20.

    PowerfulLeedsRhinos, where do you get your Red Rose-tinted spectacles, 'cos you palpably couldn't have been watching the same match as everyone else. Do you do write these things just to wind me up?

  • Comment number 21.

    OK, everyone seems to be saying that Argentina are a rubblish team and England should have beaten them easily. In the last world cup, both France and Ireland found out, to their cost, that they're NOT! They will be joining the Tri-Nations tournament soon. They made things difficult for England by constantly lying at the back of the ruck and preventing quick ball - something they were allowed to do by the referee. I'm not saying England had a good game, the first half was frought with small errors that, added together, made for a poor performance, but England still won a difficult game in difficult conditions. Listening to the Sky commentators, Chignell and Greenwood after tha match, you would be forgiven for thinking they were actually SORRY that England won - they praised the great performace of the Angentinians, while berating the England performance against a 'poor' side - how can the Argentinians be 'great' and 'poor' at the same time? Steve Borthwick is the best captain England have had since Jonno - once the squad is back to fuill strength, they will answer their critics. Don't forget, England came 2nd in last years Six Nations, ahead of France and Wales, just behind an on-form grand-slam-winning Ireland - wasn't Johnson managing and Borthwick captainin then, or does my memory fail me, like so many others? Bring on the All-Black next week - then we'll se what mssrs Chignell and Greenwood have to say!

  • Comment number 22.

    Bring on all the doom agenda commentators who wrote their articles and blogs to this game on friday night!

    Yes it wasn't great, but I have the feeling all the media people Martin Johnson annoyed when he was a player have been desperately waiting for this moment.

    The article on the BBC actually doesn't even make sense. Its talks about how Argentina are ranked two places above england and even that looked generous after the game??? I don't understnd, WE WON, and Argentna as the higher ranked team (despite playing away) really should have come here to win, thats what we would expect!!

    All this talk of Argentina having two players out and 4 amateurs (in argentina an amateur rugby player is a different proposition to an english amateur).

    Also the pre-opinionated media commentators have overlooked the fact that of the team that played france earlier in the year and who put in one of the best ever england first half displays, ONLY FOUR PLAYERS started this game!!

    Lets get some perspective, I was more disapointed with the 2nd half against Australia last week than the Argentina game, you play what is in front of you and Argentina are masters of slowing the ball, fronting up and trying to grind teams down, England responded, it wasn't pretty but we won. In the more open game against Australia we were good for 40 minutes but in the second half when the game was there to be expanded, we didn't and lost because of it, this is the more damning part of the last two games and where the focus of real rugby journalists has been.

    To the rest I must say, let it go, the empire has gone, Argentina are no whipping boys and its disrespectful to think this is the case. Understand that over 11 injuries to first team players does make a difference where the margins of international rugby are so thin, put down your pens now and stop writing your columns and blogs for next sunday now, the game hasn't happened yet.

  • Comment number 23.

    I was at Twickenham yesterday and last week and have to agree with most of the criticism about the ambition and the style of play but I don’t agree with all the negativity about England. Australia and Argentina played in a very similar style to England, Australia were a better side and their scrum half was out standing and they won, Argentina were not as good a team as England and lost! No shocks there! The English players were not all bad yesterday and with the exception of Monye, who was moved at half time, no one stood out as below standard. Even Monye showed glimpses of his talent. His confidence is gone but he remains a good player. All the calls for selection of the usual suspects such as Kennedy etc are missing the point. There is a huge step up in standard at test level and England need to build a team and not make changes for changes sake.

    All three international sides, and all the premiership sides I have seen this season, played the same way with endless aimless kicks put up mid pitch between the 22 metre lines. Why is this? Surely it’s the fault of the new interpretation of the breakdown so that taking the ball into contact is now a 50:50 call. That makes running the ball rather naive. Its more effective to put up 50;50 kicks that will make more territory. Don’t blame England because all the sides are doing it. I would prefer a more structured kicking game, kicking to the corners and pressurising the line out but the coaches seem to prefer their teams to play tennis like rugby.

    If we want more running rugby then we need to change the interpretation of the existing laws and maybe the laws themselves to create more space. What about moving the offside line back 5 metres at rucks and mauls to stop players standing on the fringes and allowing a mark to be called anywhere on the field

  • Comment number 24.

    Good blog, and very accurate i think, and also most of the comments seem to match in 3 things: MJ is inexperienced and not (yet?) a Clive Woodward-esque figure, Borthwick is no captain, and our backs have no creative spark.

    im surprised that geraghty has played so badly, in each of the last 2 games I honestly believe he has been englands worst player; aimless kicking, shocking distribution, very few tackles (at 12? no wonder Johnny had to put so many in against Oz!), and no cutting edge: unlike how he's played for Irish, he's been dynamic, cutting, and grabs games by the scruff of the neck! thats the geraghty i'd like to see!! come the return of flood, geraghty, and the continuing good form of anthony allen I think that geraghty may be blowing his big chance to cement the england birth that his form for irish has so richly deserved!

    to those people commenting on the 'lack of injured starters' yes we have injuries, but i only think that the front row and full-back are the only positions that didnt have who should be the regular starters in them 2day, ok so we have injuries to flood and flutey, and tindall, but i honestly dont think that tindall should be playing ahead of hipkiss, and havent for years. even so, maybe flutey would start ahead of geraghty, but as I'v said, he's been awesome for irish and fully deserved that starts. sheriden, vickery, white would be in the 22, though to be honest I dont think that our packs have underperformed at all these last 2 weeks, so that isnt even a problem for me, armitage would be at 15, with abendanon as cover. thats it. 2 of cueto, bannahan and monye would be first choice wingers at the moment, sackey's disappeared, varndell started well for wasps but seems to have faded, strettle...has moments, but not enough of them, so who else would start in place of who? back row is one of the best around.

    i ammend that, I'd start lawes ahead of borthwick, but i dont think that johnno's going to do that, no matter how warranted.

    congrats for the win boys, nows the time to start playing some rugby again, and proving to the world why we've made to world cup finals in succession!

  • Comment number 25.

    another error spotted: i meant come the return of flood, FLUTEY, and the form of Allen :-) my bad!

  • Comment number 26.


    Geraghty has not played for London Irish since last season - he moved to Northampton over the summer where he plays at either fly half or inside centre.

    My England XV for WC 2011 if all fit and returned from suspension:
    1 Sheridan
    2 Hartley
    3 Stevens
    4 Kennedy
    5 Lawes
    6 Croft
    7 Rees (Capt)
    8 Haskell
    9 Ellis
    10 Wilkinson
    11 Monye
    12 Flutey
    13 Tait
    14 Cueto
    15 Armitage

    Only 6 of this selection is unavailable so perhaps the coaching team should be looking to the future by introducing some youth to the team. Maybe this year they should start with Shaw and Kennedy as locks with Lawes on the bench and introduce him slowly (Borthwick simply fails to meet the bill!) Both props are out as are the understudies so the coaches are hamstrung there. Two thirds of yesterdays back row would be my picks and Moody was outstanding at 7 so no arguenments there. Behind the scrum there was a lack of ideas and direction which suprprises me as Smith had a reputation for attacking flair whilst at Irish.

    In my first offering I made mention of the finances. I have supported England for more years than I care to remember and have been to matches all around the world but even when losing they attempted to play entertaining rugby. Can anypone seriously expect punters to turn up at Twickenham and pay £75 to watch the dross on offer yesterday? I think not. The RFU is still relying on the fact that we won WC 03 and came second in 07. The good will that engendered will dissipate if England play as poorly as they did yesterday. Many commentators have mentioned that Argentina are ranked above England in the World but that is due to a core nucleus of a few outstanding players. THey do not have great strength in depth yet whilst England has arguably the greatest pool of players to choose from. Yesterday Argentina were devoid on their playmakers behind the scrum or England would have lost heavily.

  • Comment number 27.

    Having also been at Twickenham yesterday I have to agree that the first 40 minutes was without doubt the worst 40 minutes of "international" rugby I have ever seen and had Argentina taken their chances they would have taken a well deserved lead into the half time break. I thought the ball was radioactive in the first half as every time it landed in our hands we hoofed it away as far as we could and certainly didn't want to pass it to one of our team mates!

    The only real positive was that in the first 15 minutes of the second half we improved but it didn't take long to revert to type. I left feeling a little for the Argentina team who deserved something out of the game.

    I also left feeling confused as to who was at fault for the display.....and lets not blame the conditions or the opposition.....WE WERE AWFUL.

    It is easy to single Monye out and yes he was poor poor poor but he should not have been in that position. Martin Johnson sat on the bench looking as if he did not know what to do next.........well if he doesn't know we need to find someone who does. And as for Steve Borthwick's leading ability on the pitch.......there really wasn't any. He seemed more content with questioning the referee and asking him to keep an eye on infringements he believed the Argentinians' guilty of.......let the ref do his job and lead your team worry about what you can do and not about what the ref should be doing.

    All we needed to do was keep hold of ball, run with it and maybe the odd pass :-)would have worked wonders in the first half and yet we had to endure 40 (but felt a lot longer) minutes of mind numbing kick the ball back to the Argentinians. We know we did not play with the best crop of players we have ever had but neither did Argentina and they made us look worse than ordianry. At what point will the leaders of the team be held accountable for this?

  • Comment number 28.

    my bad again man! haha. i knew what i meant...honest. its early on a sunday, i cant be expected to make sense!! xD

  • Comment number 29.

    England stop kicking the ball away you are not any good at it.

  • Comment number 30.

    Some good thoughts here. Don't want to depress anyone over their Sunday roaster, but anyone fancy a prediction for next Saturday?

  • Comment number 31.

    Every cloud has a silver lining Toby Flood is back playing. Why did we not play a genuine fullback.

  • Comment number 32.

    Most of the commments on this blog are ignorant, playing Lawes and Kennedy in the 2nd row would be be ridiculas! Who cares what your selection would be! You dont know anything about rugby and you wont be selecting the team!

    Englands line out was dominant against Argentina and our scrum held its own. The problem does not lie with the pack or their ability to win ball, we had plenty of ball in both games. We do need more quick ball but we had at least as much decent ball as either Australia or Argentina. The problem surely lies with the tactics of endless aimless midfield up and unders. But ALL teams are using this tactic! Our tactical kicking was poor thats why we played badly in both games.

    Get off Borthwicks back the problem lies elsewhere! Its at 9, 10, 12 and 15 where we have to improve our kicking game. Everything else will fall into place once that happens and England will be competing for a top 4 finish again at the next world cup. Get the kicking right and we might reach a 3rd successive final or even win it again!

  • Comment number 33.

    Next saturday England 26 : 14 New Zealand. Due to the fact I am reliant on radio coverage I hope its not on radio 5live now known as radio 5 almost live. Trust me its awful more soccer coverage than Rugby. Why cant the BBC put the rugby on Radio 5live extra so we can hear the whole match.

  • Comment number 34.

    I have some sympathy for those saying we need to be less negative. But not much. Regardless of the quality of Argentina, or the injured England players, we have to look at the style and quality of the England performance.

    As Tom notes in his blog, England have access to financial and playing resources that are significant. These must be utilised to develop the game at all levels with the outcome being a quality, well-coached senior side that is constantly improving. And they should ensure that missing players are a burden as opposed to a disaster.

    I think the wave of negativity comes from the fact that this team:
    a) do not appear to be improving, witness the constant basic errors and mistakes,
    b) are not even trying to play in a style and manner that would test the best teams in the world. Constantly slowing your own ball or aimlessly kicking it away is not the way forward, and
    c) do not appear to be well-coached. A number of people have pointed to the fact that MJ has no managerial experience.....and yet we are surprised?

    I think there would be fewer boos at games and more optimism in the posts if we saw England trying to play a successful and challenging brand of rugby. If you must fail, then fail gloriously trying your best to do the right thing. Watching England fail in such a plodding and morose manner is somewhat soul destroying for us all.

    It was Aristotle who said "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." England must at least try to play excellently, as opposed to putting up misreable performances supported by that despearate "a win is a win" adage. I am not a Welsh fan, but I feel Gatland and Edwards understand this - lets hope England figure it out too.

  • Comment number 35.


    I can see only one way for england to come away with a result next week, and thats to not go toe-to-toe with the number 2 team in the world. If we play a kicking game they'll lap that up all day long, Muliaina, Sivivatu and co. will take it as an invitation to cause broken field mayhem. also, their pack is alot more experienced than ours, so trying to grind the ball along will simply not work, cause who's a better breakdown scavenger than Richie McCaw? We need to stretch the All Blacks, less dithering at the breakdown, quicker ball, and greater options when the ball is released. If we get bogged down the way we did against Argentina we're going to be stuck in a dogfight that we wont be able to stand a chance of winning, and if we concede penalties then you can bet that Carter, Donald or McCalister will smash them through the sticks all afternoon for fun.

    We can win, if we pull out all the stops, but we'll need to eradicate the handling errors and silly penalties to even stand the slightest chance.

  • Comment number 36.

    I personally can't see england winning next week. that said this is a relatively inexperienced england team with several players with less than 10 caps in it so i'm taking positives out of this result. the one thing i would say is that pretty much the only time we made a break with supporting runners it ended in a try. we need to do this more!!!! whether its from set move or a bit of creativity then the support runners need to be there - it makes the ball quicker. that and driving over at the ruck rather than falling on top of the ball.
    For my money i'd put foden in next week at full back and move monye to 11 with banahn on the bench as an impact player.

  • Comment number 37.

    New Zealand are not invincible, they rely heavily on Dan Cater. Get Moody to target Carter and the rest of the pack to play out of their skins. Bring in Shaw and Wilson to add more dynamism in the front 5 and stop the aimless up and under kicking. Kick the ball off the park into the corners and make it a set piece battle. Don’t let NZ get any rhythm. Don’t make any unforced errors.

    Wales could have beaten NZ, England did beat Wales last year by targeting their best player Roberts who was tackled out of the game by a determined single minded Worsley, do the same to Carter and you beat NZ!

    Having said that I dont think England will be able to cut out the errors. NZ 20 England 9

  • Comment number 38.

  • Comment number 39.

    Even to someone as one eyed as yourself I have to point out that Wales did in fact beat England last year in the six nations - in spite of Worsley making some good tackles on Roberts.

    We also lost to them in 2008 and 2007 and 2005.

  • Comment number 40.

    Matthew Tait was the main inventive player in the last World Cup
    for England. I don't know if he is injured but when fit does not seem to be considered. Joe Worsley was the main brightspot in the last 6 nations, he is only on the bench. Cipriani is instinctive but not considered.
    Where are the game brakers to come from. We are going back to the dire 80's through selection.

  • Comment number 41.

    England were awful, we're all agreed.

    Let's not write Johnsons entire reign off though. I don't think we can say they've made no progress in 12 mths. Remember the France game in March? England were superb, their back play devastating.

    So I want to give Jphnson/ Smith more time. I do worry about the coaching blend though. You can't split forwards and backs, and Smith/ Wells don't seem a good match.

  • Comment number 42.

    Argentina kicked the ball and had at least 2 guys charging after every kick. England just booted it aimlessly, time and again, and had no one following up. Can't really see Carter employing the same pointless and totally brain dead tactics next week.
    You really have to admire the logic - We've just won the ball so let's aimless boot pocession away.
    Poor old Johnno - losing a complete team through injury and then finds the next best 15 don't bother to take their brain onto the pitch.
    It really does make a statement about just how utterly dreadful Borthwick is as a captain that he couldn't sort the mess out on the pitch.

  • Comment number 43.

    Wilkinson is not the best player ever - but is the best ever England fly-half, by miles.

    Borthwick - NO.

    Monye - winger.

    So, for next Saturday:

    15. Foden
    14. Cueto
    13. Tait
    12. Hipkiss
    11. Monye
    10. Wilkinson
    9. Hodgson

    1. Payne
    2. Thomson
    3. Bell
    4. Kennedy
    5. Shaw
    6. Croft
    7. Moody
    8. Haskell (capt.)

    16. Hartly
    17. Doran-Jones
    18. Crane
    19. Worsley
    20. Care
    21. Geraghty
    22. Banahan

  • Comment number 44.

    Armpit - of course you are right England did lose to Wales which does undermine my point about nullifying the oppositions principal threat. The fact tht England did beat Ireland and France does prove that England are not as bad as everyone says. Losing to a poor Australian side wasnt great but beating Argentina by playing so badly was such a disaster either. There isnt much between the top sides. The Tri Nations, France and Ireland are all close with England, Wales and Argentina not far behind and Scotland are catching up but Cater gives NZ the edge.

    England will compete in the 6 Nations and the World Cup, Johhno and Borthwick are not the problem with England. They just need more confidence. It took Flutey a few ganes to come good and I back Geraghty to improve and help get the back line moving.

  • Comment number 45.

    1 Payne
    2 Thompson
    3 Bell
    4 Lawes
    5 Borthwick
    6 Croft
    7 Moody
    8 Haskell

    9 Care
    10 Wilkinson

    11 Monye
    12 Geraghty
    13 Hipkiss
    14 Cueto
    15 Foden

    16 Hartley
    17 Doran Jones
    18 Shaw (though I dont think Deacon's done anything wrong)
    19 Crane
    20 Hodgeson
    21 Tait
    22 Banahan

    Basher: I too hope that Geraghty to come good, since his club form has been outstanding (sorry that I suggested earlier that he was still at the Irish...!!when we all know he's at quins...I mean saints ;])

    I dont think that the All Blacks are quite as reliant on Carter as people seem to think...they have alot of quality all over the park. Yes, Carter is one of the best, if not THE best, midfielders in the world, but theres so much more to NZ than just him!

  • Comment number 46.

    We do have the right to expect a good winning England team. This we will see again, however all the parts and pieces that were in place and right under woodward and co took 8 years to put together. We have to be realistic and look at the world rankings, as it stood, England beat a better team on Saturday. If we look at Australia and South Africa they have spent many of the last 10 years in a similar position to that of England now. South Africa have managed to pull them selves together and are now where England were at the start of this decade.

    The thing the that the world beating sides have in common is a faith and trust in a system that is allowed to grow and find itself. It is allowed to settle, we see a period of good performances and losses until the settled squad finds itself. This takes a huge amount of time within a club side that work together daily.

    Just look at Arsenal, London Irish - To certain degree the Australian Cricket team.

    If you look at the players man for man their is never a lot to choose between, whether it be club to club, country to country or even for an International place. The system is all important, you can sit back and say/write your thoughts on the best England team, but the effort is futile as we have no idea as to the plan and system Johnson is trying to implement. The key here is to allow due process. Johnson will build and grow, we will come good again. Just give it all time, to find itself.

    Places in the England side have to be selected by how the player fits into a winning system, something all great sports teams have had in common.

    We all called for Woodwards head after Jannie drop goaled us out of a world cup we thought we should win. He asked for four years with the same squad and he came good.

    The same has to happen here; I only hope that when Johnson does get there the gentlemen that run our game listen to him and allow him the autonomy to continue in HIS way.

  • Comment number 47.

    The majority of posts here are quite justified in their criticism of the England display, it was embarassing at times. But the more interesting question is why were England so bad against Argentina. The Argentinians could point to far more that would have justified a below par performance, scratch team, injuries, lack of preparation time, etc. but they played pretty well, and deserved to win. If they had kicked their penalties they would have won too.For England where do the problems lie?
    As many have said it was a big mistake (especially with the weather conditions as they were ) to select Monye at full back. What amazed me is that there no-one for England on or off the pitch who thought after the third dropped catch, lets switch Monye with Cueto. It took till half time to react to the situation. But leave that aside, the problems start in the front five. When the rest of the team see the uncertainty, lack of posession, and inability to retain possession in the way the pack operate they know that when a passing move breaks down there is little chance to defend the situation. Therefore they opt for the safer option of kicking, to try to get field position. When you watch Australia playing (and NZ will be as good if not better) they display an awareness, a strength combined with mobility that ensures they can win the ball, retain the ball in contact and therefore move the ball effectively into space. That gives them field position and eventually points. If that is not there, as it isnt with England (they are too slow, dont react fast enough or with enough organised aggression to win these contests for the ball)then the game for the backs changes. They are under pressure to engineer field position against the run of play and to defend for long periods. And thats where the mistakes come from, the pressure they are under.
    The solutions are not easy ones, cause the best front five players are missing (injured), and the gameplans are so predictable and slow at the moment. There is a gulf between Australia, NZ, Sringbiks and the Southern Hemisphere sides (well France and Wales seem to be closer than the others). I think England will only be able to effectively compete with NZ coming weekend for some relatively brief passages of the game. A lot will depend on how well they can defend, as to how effectively they can limit the damage.It would help England if the leadership on the pitch could think on its feet and take some decisions based on what is happening in the game.

  • Comment number 48.

    TYMFTR - I think you are missing the point a little. When Clive Woodward took charge, England had a strong and stable pack with which to build his foundations on - it gave him the ability to take a chance on players like Matthew Perry, Josh Lewsey etc. He always knew that in times of crisis, the forwards could keep the ball and pummell the opposition. times have unfortunately changed. We don't have the superiority in the pack that we had in the late 90's and therefore it is about how to use the whole team, rather than the front 9.

    The problem has to be a coaching one. I was a big fan of Johnno coming in, but don't understand why he didn't clear the likes of John Wells, Mike Ford, Jon Callard out when he came in. Give the players a fresh start, no pre conceptions etc. I don't have a huge issue over the players that he is picking (bar the 2nd row - ironic that the worlds best 2nd row, cannot pick a decent one himself), however there needs to be a shake up somewhere.

    That said, lets hope that being serious underdogs against the All Blacks on Saturday will allow them to play with more freedom and a lot less fear because at the moment it could not get much worse....

  • Comment number 49.

    It is desperate. Quite simply, the worst England performance I have ever seen - and I have seen a few. There is simply no artistry in this England squad, no ability to play upon instinct and seize opportunities. They are going backwards not forwards. Unless changes are made now, two years out from the 2010 RWC, then we can simply wave goodbye to any chance of doing well or even winning the tournament.
    Rob Andrew - out / replaced by Sir Clive Woodward
    Martin Johnson - out / replaced by Ian McGeechan
    John Wells (forwards)- out / replaced by Lawrence Dallaglio
    Graham Rowntree (forwards) - out / replaced by Jason Leonard
    Mike Ford (defence) - out / replaced by Shaun Edwards
    Brian Smith (attack/backs)- out / replaced by Will Greenwood
    John Callard (kicking)- out / replaced by Mike Catt
    This would be the dream ticket. Experience throughout. Woodward would be brilliant working with McGeechan. The combo of Dallaglio/Edwards/Greenwood would be mouth-watering. Greenwood was in my view one of the reasons why England were so successful leading up to 2003. He would be able to help Jonny Wilkinson bring on this England back-line with success. Mike Catt's influence would also be so valuable. I am sure that even though Shaun Edwards is working with Wales, then he would jump at the prospect of working with England, something he wanted to do originally when Martin Johnson appointed his team of coaches.
    These changes need to be made next week, as soon as the NZ game is done. The team would then have 4 months prep leading up to the 6 Nations & crucially, two years prior to RWC 2011. Francis Baron needs to get tough and make the BIG decisions that the faithful England rugby public deserve.

  • Comment number 50.

    It is desperate. Quite simply, the worst England performance I have ever seen - and I have seen a few. There is simply no artistry in this England squad, no ability to play upon instinct and seize opportunities. They are going backwards not forwards. Unless changes are made now, two years out from the 2010 RWC, then we can simply wave goodbye to any chance of doing well or even winning the tournament.


    Rob Andrew - out / replaced by Sir Clive Woodward
    Martin Johnson - out / replaced by Ian McGeechan
    John Wells (forwards)- out / replaced by Lawrence Dallaglio
    Graham Rowntree (forwards) - out / replaced by Jason Leonard
    Mike Ford (defence) - out / replaced by Shaun Edwards
    Brian Smith (attack/backs)- out / replaced by Will Greenwood
    John Callard (kicking)- out / replaced by Mike Catt

    This would be the dream ticket. Experience throughout. Woodward would be brilliant working with McGeechan. The combination of Dallaglio/Edwards/Greenwood would be mouth-watering. Greenwood was in my view one of the reasons why England were so successful leading up to 2003. He would be able to help Jonny Wilkinson bring on this England back-line with success. Mike Catt's influence would also be so valuable. I am sure that even though Shaun Edwards is working with Wales, then he would jump at the prospect of working with England, something he wanted to do originally when Martin Johnson appointed his team of coaches.

    These changes need to be made next week, as soon as the NZ game is done. The team would then have 4 months prep leading up to the 6 Nations & crucially, two years prior to RWC 2011. Francis Baron needs to get tough and make the BIG decisions that the faithful England rugby public deserve.

  • Comment number 51.

    Tom, there's lots I agree with in your blog, England were extremely negative, particularly in the first half and it meant they never built any momentum. They came out better in the second half but the error count was very high. However, I take issue with one of the points you make. Monye had a game full of errors but you've managed to attribute one "error" to him without really understanding the situation - Hipkiss's loose pass as Monye "dawdled off the pace". The moves came from a lineout steal on Argentina's ball. Monye's wing positioning will have been well back from the defensive line to cover a potential Aregentinian kick to the open field - a "wiper". He was probably a full 20-30 metres back from Hipkiss when the lineout was stolen. I know he's quick, but that's a lot of ground to cover by the time the ball reaches the end of the line and Hipkiss has moved forwards.

    I know Stuart Barnes made the same point on sky, but he was wrong. He often uses spurious examples to back up his opinion. It was already evident Monye was having a bad day but to pick up on this is really kicking a man when he's down.

    Will Greenwood said at half time that Cueto should have scored when he had the opportunity as he had a "10 metre start", and I've seen this assertion repeated elsewhere in the media. I've watched it again and again and I would expect the Argentine full back to get to him every time. He didn't have any head start and the defender had the angle to cut him off. Cueto should have held onto the ball rather than throw forward but I don't think many wingers would have made the line.

  • Comment number 52.

    Bring back Woodward or let's try a southern hemsphere coach. Our people do not have anywhere near the committment, imagination or hunger of a southern hemesphere team.

    A little less drinking and clubbing perhaps and a little more focused committment is needed by English players!!


  • Comment number 53.

    brian998 comments that "Johnny Wilkinson is arguable the greatest rugby player to set foot on a rugby pitch" is preposterous beyong belief but symptomatic of so much that is currently wrong, we can't distinguish good from bad any more so much is the hype and it is the same type of thinking that landed us with martin johnson as Manager.

    Wilkinson's test goal kicking is 75%, below average for a top 10, Carter is 88%, his kicking from hand is consistently poor, short, inaccurate and occaisionally into touch on the fly. Positional play is random, often found at bottom of rucks, on the wing, at fullback or playing stand-in 7. Runnning has never been his strength and distribution is average at best, angles his running before passing and the killer pass to beat the defence is not his forte, until England can see clearly enough for Wilko plus others (on and off the field) to go for good then expect a lot more of this in the future.

  • Comment number 54.

    In my opinion the deficiencies in Englands game has to come down to the slow ball. You can have the best and most dynamic back coach in the world with the best patterns but without quick ball the backs are completely nullified. To me the problem comes in the form of John Wells. He has been in the role since Andy Robinson's reign and has done little to shape the forwards into a dynamic unit. Johnson and Smith have inherited Wells' approach and forward tactics. They are simply not working. England have not moved on since Robinson was in charge and that has to be down to Wells and his methods of coaching with the forwards. They are afraid to play and do not back themselves. The Dallaglio era of forwards provided a platform for the whole team to thrive. The forwards need to be on the front foot not worried about what patterns they should be playing.

    We need dynamism in the team. A leader who leads, provides inspiration in the face of adversity and steps up to the mark. Instead we have Borthwick. Lets move on and get a true leader.

    I think that people are not disapointed at winning the game - Argentina are a tough side, it merely comes down to seeing hope in the team trying to play. Its those crumbs of hope that we are all looking for. Unfortunately someone has swept up the crumbs of hope and put them in the bin!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Interesting that you should mention Ian McGeechan, James. More than a few pundits bandying his name around in the aftermath at Twickenham. Whether he'd actually want to be involved is another thing, and in any case Johnson's position is pretty secure.

    It's more likely that changes would be made underneath him. Lots of votes at the moment for Toby Booth at London Irish - Brian Ashton was intending to bring him in as his forwards coach before he got the boot - and that might also bring the best out of Brian Smith. Still think too that it's a crying shame that Shaun Edwards is 130 miles away in Cardiff during international weeks...

  • Comment number 56.

    Johnson is most certainly secure. After the PR catastrophe of Ashton's shabby removal Andrew's head might well be on the block if Johnson fails. He couldn't be safer whilst 'wots my job' Andrew remains.

    Very interesting to hear Ashton wanted to bring in Toby Booth... seems clearer and clearer that the wrong man took the bullet 18 months ago but then again a large number thought that then and there was nothing that could be done to stop the rugby catastrophe that is now unfolding.

    Another interesting comparison with the Ashton reign is discipline and authority. BA famously wrapped Cipriani on the knuckles and suspended him for a game for being out late. Cipriani then came back a fortnight later and produced his best game for England.

    Johnson seems to have exiled him and others to the wilderness. This combined with the evident fear paralysing many of our players points to a draconian regime preventing players from flourishing. It obviously wasn't perfect under Ashton (see 2007 WC comments from Dayglo and Catt) but you didn't have a backline looking terrified.

  • Comment number 57.

    I just think we need to inject some life and vision back into the England set-up & you can't get 4 more passionate & 100% fully committed people than messrs Dallaglio, Greenwood, Catt & Leonard. These guys were all senior lieutenants under Woodward's regime. He relied upon them for their views & they were influential in the decision making that led to the 2003 success. Just think how many international caps they have between them and their experience on Lions tours to boot. They must be brought in - I just cannot see the current set of coaches remaining. Nothing is being achieved, the players are training for the sake of training and things have gone so stale. I wonder whether changes will be made, I do hope so.

    If it worked so well for 2003, then why not 2011.....

  • Comment number 58.

    Prediction for next Saturday: England 9 / 34 New Zealand

    England won't score any tries as their attack is totally blunt. The margin of victory depends on the playing conditions and whether Dan Carter has a 7/8/9 out of ten performance on the day. At least England will be back playing in white, otherwise little optimism - the England squad are no doubt out there on the paddock right now doing yet another training session, repeating the instructions given to them by Wells and co. last week. Desperate.

  • Comment number 59.

    James - while Dallaglio was a fine player, wouldn't bringing him in as a coach risk repeating one of the problems with MJ - appointing a man with no coaching pedigree or experience?

    Ste1000 - good point duly noted. Big fan of Monye on the wing, too - was awful watching him having his mauve 'mare at 15 in the first half.

    pascoty - from what you're saying about lack of leadership on the pitch, I'm guessing you're not a big fan of Borthwick as skipper. Who would you rather see in charge?

  • Comment number 60.

    Too slow and ponderous around the breakdowns .. why do we always seem to wait until the defense is set to pick the ball and play ?

    Too many times the forwards were in the back line .. Dylan Hartley, for gads sake man, get out of the way let the backs have the ball.

    No variation in play with continual use of the senseless pick and drive up the sides of mauls, which are too easily defeneded and do nothing to gain ground or suck in defenders.

    England need to develop some tempo into their game.

    Whatever happened to quick ball off the top of a lineout or from a scrum, tap and go at penalties and freekicks, quick ruck ball ... ??

    This style of rugby is tedious to watch, turgid and totally boring, if I wanted to watch Rugby League I would .. thank god for the paper aeroplanes which at least gave us some entertainment !

  • Comment number 61.

    Ohh and my prediction for the AB's ... England will fail to cross the line for a try and only Wilkinson will contribute to the scoreboard, meanwhile the AB's will do their thing and round off a fairly misserable Autumn series for England with a comprehensive thrashing .. 36-9 'ish .. do I hear any advance on 36 ?

    Come on Johno, you've got to be able to do better than this !

  • Comment number 62.

    Saturday was a truely awful performance the nadir of a dreadful few years. The personnel are not the problem, the problem is that although Martin Johnson bestrode the world in his playing days, he is not qualified for his current job. Wells has the forwards poorly organised / coached playing to outdated plans - his time has gone.

    They are Lions led by donkeys. - Watching Ireland Australia was painful to see how they attack the gain line compared to England. I would welcome the team running backwards or sideways into space - just spare me another afternoon of Hartley running into contact and everyone applauding.

    We all know that they should have gone for Edwards and or Gatland but were too proud, England will continue to tread water until we carry out an overhaul of our coaching team.

    p.s. The last person we should think of getting rid of is Geraghty.

    The one hopeful thing is that Lewis Moody has learned how to stay on side.

  • Comment number 63.

    I don't know what went on in the dressing room when MJ was captain, but I'd be surprised if he didn't tell his coach that something wasn't working and needed to be changed. I don't think Borthwick is working as captain, partly because his playing performances aren't at such a level that they guarantee a place (which was never an issue with MJ), but also because I'd want the captain on the pitch to make changes if they're necessary. On Saturday the Argentinian three-quarters were inexperienced and we should have been putting pressure on them, instead of which we had slow ball recycled at close quarters and Hartley trying to barge his way up the centre through the middle of a very experienced pack. This was the rugby equivalent of the England soccer team flinging high balls into the penalty area in the hope that Shaun Wright-Phillips would head a goal or two.

    The depressing thought I have is that if MJ had been coach of the great Welsh side of the 70s he'd have moved JPR to the left wing and told Gareth Edwards not to waste possession by giving it to Barry John.

  • Comment number 64.

    Tom - I see your point re: Dallaglio coaching experience. However, it would be ok as Dallaglio would only be one of the specialist coaches as opposed to the top role that Martin Johnson is occupying. A lack of coaching experience therefore not so critical. The players would respect Dallaglio & I think he would get them playing much free-er than John Wells has been doing. Dallaglio working with Shaun Edwards would be great

  • Comment number 65.

    CAPTAINCY ISSUE - this may seem a little left-field but how about replacing Borthwick with Lewis Moody? Moody leads by example and right now, would appear to be the first name down on the team sheet each week. He has bags of experience and will get through to RWC 2011. I would replace Borthwick in the side with Simon Shaw. Make Wilkinson vice-captain

  • Comment number 66.

    I've got to agree with many people on here that Borthwick is not and has never been the man for the job in terms of captain. There is no leadership on the field, as surely if we're constantly kicking good ball away, he should pull everyone together and ensure that they stop doing it. I was there on Saturday and have to say, it was one of the worst displays I've seen - right up there with the 37-0 kicking we got against the Boks at the WC.....which I was also unfortunately at!! Anyone want my tickets to the AB game!!?

  • Comment number 67.

    Having watched the game on saturday my disenchantment with England continues and I only hope we start playing some more attractive rugby - win or lose it will certainly be more exciting to watch!

    I do think that the players missing makes a difference, regarding ability, attitude and also style of play. Toby Flood and Riki Flutey are both players with the ability to take side-step, attack space and break or half break tackles dragging defenders in and allowing a quick offload and some much needed momentum (things I haven't seen from our backline yet this autumn). Delon Armitage is a fantastic attacking fullback and defensively very solid under the high ball and during the 6 nations opposition couldn't target this as a weakness as they have done in the last 2 games, putting us instantly on the back foot. These three are also players blessed with confidence and creativity - Flood and Armitage are also relatively young and will only improve, as will the likes of Geraghty, Cipriani, Foden and Tait (if given a chance).
    I do like Mark Cueto for his experience and solid all round game but I think Monye's confidence could suffer further if the all blacks choose to target him! I would like to see Geraghty given a run out at 10 with Wilkinson probably slotted at 12 (until Flutey / Flood return) but now is not the time and I fear Richie McCaw would be all over him like a rash.

    In terms of the forwards we do lack dynamism and that is there for all to see. The inclusion of Haskell is probably the right choice and hopefully he'll be given some time there to settle in. I do think MJ has Deacon in as a stop-gap and intends to bring back Shaw when fully fit with Lawes his natural successor.
    In the front row we do have options when everyone is fully fit though I would love to see a new and more aggressive Andrew Sheridan when he's back from injury. Just imagine a mean, gnarly, battle hardened Sheridan showing the attitude of an MJ or Bakkies would be a scary prospect for anyone!

  • Comment number 68.

    I have to say I was getting funny looks from people at the bar where I watched the game, suffice to say the swear jar was overflowing

    Why are we still trying to play the same game we did 15 years ago? There just didn't seem to be any flair at all. I know conditions weren't the best but watching aerial ping-pong for 20 minutes isn't good enough. You can play that way but you need to pressure the back 3 and try and gain some ground - not just give away possession and position

    Monye had a shocker but he's no full back. He looked better when he reverted to the wing (where he belongs) Wilko had a bit of a 'mare as well and his kicking out of hand has been bad recently

    Moody has been the only player to stand out both tests, and he has played really well; all over his oppo and attacking every ruck and maul with aggression

    I don't think Borthwick is a good enough leader, he should have been all over on Saturday shouting at the players to get their acts together but he didn't (and never has done)

    I think the players are good enough but need more direction and some spark. Borthwick doesn't provide that spark. I think we need a radical change in the coaching structure as I really do believe the players we have available are good enough to compete with SH sides but we are hampered by trying to play an outdated game plan every time

  • Comment number 69.

    I had the opportunity to watch the match. I managed the Firsy Half and then took the Kids Ten Pin Bowling even though it is debateable that they actually wanted to go. I just needed to look for something else to do as watching the Match was embarrasing.

    It isnt that there were injuries; we all accept that. It is the purpose and the skill level on show from the England Team which was so disappointing. There was a lack of apparent purpose and some of the errors especially handling were mistakes you wouldnt expect from professional players under comapratively little pressure in open play. That was really it for me; a lack of desire and applciation

  • Comment number 70.

    I can accept that Monye is not an international standard full back, but surely he should still be able to catch the ball. Or does the ball follow a specific "full-back trajectory" that only trained and skilled full-backs can understand? What would the excuse be if he'd dropped 3 balls in a row playing on the wing?

  • Comment number 71.

    ste1000 - have to disagree with the comment about Cueto. I've just rewatched it a few times and I can safely say that it should have been (and probably would have been) scored by every other winger in the Guinness Premiership. There is absolutely no excuse not to have made the corner flag. He simply isn't quick enough. Even Tom Croft starts the run 10 metres behind and is less by the time Cueto's tackled. I know Croft is fast but he's not 'international winger' fast. He was tackled by Agulla who plays for Hindú Club in Argentina. Not exactly a hotbed of world-class players. I don't think Cueto is a bad player but that should have been a try.

    Tom - Borthwick certainly needs to go. He won't, but he should. Wouldn't be right to change him in the middle of Autumn Tests. 6 Nations should see someone else step in. Not sure about Moody in terms of his leadership as he's never really mentioned by colleagues but he's certainly one of the few players getting plaudits at the moment. I'd be tempted by Hartley or Haskell I think. Revitalisation through youth. They are playing well and are likely to be playing for next 8 years or so. Haskell can be moved around the backrow to accomodate differences in strategy and no one else is likely to challenge Hartley for at least the next 2-3 years. Captaincy has calmed his fire somewhat at Saints too.

  • Comment number 72.

    Lifelong Union fan I might be, but I couldn't help noticing that the skill level in Saturday's England vs Australia rugby league game was far higher than anything I've seen at Twickenham recently. Anybody agree?

  • Comment number 73.

    nick0562 - titally agree.
    see also every other home nation that played this weekend.

    in dallaglio book he mentioned how after the 2003 world cup the coaching staff took their foot off the gas- simply because they have nothing else to acheive... mass clear out needed. mj is a hero, but me thinks he is surrounded by coaches who are past it and out of touch...except ford who has a good record at irish.

    there are people out there who would serve england better, why have these people not been asked?!! jake white even said " yes i'd like to coach england"...his phone is still silent, as is the croud at twickers as will i be when the kiwis enjoy a cricket score at the weekend...

    sad days indeed.

  • Comment number 74.

    ps - i keep hearing wilko has a broken jaw and is now....INJURED...

    anybody know about this...Tom?

  • Comment number 75.

    nick0562 - 'Twas always thus.

    I should add as well that it's slightly depressing to see that our forwards seemed more capable of catching kicks than our backs. And also that the only person who's shown a real ability to check the defence, draw a man and create an overlap was not any of our backs but Lewis Moody in the lead up to our try.

  • Comment number 76.

    To throw my hat in the "Who should be England's Captain"? debate:

    James Haskell, or, strike me for suggesting it, Danny Care.

    Care first: I admit, i've not watched alot of Quins games recently, but those that I have watched Care has seemed to literally be dictating the entire squad at the breakdown, and is the one making the most noise at all set peices. He seems to have gotten rid of the silly errors and the need to make that second step before releasing play, and for me is Englands only realistic prosepect at SH, even if Ellis can play his way back in.

    Haskell: another player who, since moving to france seems to have revitalised his career. He is a player of such enthusiasm that it usually ends in a double figure penalty count...yet, if you want a man to be leading by example (minus the penalties :P) then I cant really look further than Haskell. Most times when he gets the ball its at pace, and he has to hit more rucks than the vast majority of his teammates. If he can keep the penalty count low, and learn to pass a bit more accurately more often then he would be considered one of the stand out back-rowers in the world...

    anyone else agree with me or think Im barking?

  • Comment number 77.

    In the near future the captaincy clearly has to go to a long term contender... however, none of these guys have really nailed down a place yet (except D. Armitage and he isn't a captain).

    The best answer for me would be Simon Shaw until after the next six nations then see who has put their hand up - Hartley, Haskell, Croft, Hodgson/Care.

    This is all rather pointless though as you feel it will be a cold day in hell before MJ shifts over Borthwick. Highlighting one of his major managerial flaws - being unable to see/admit a mistake and act upon it.

  • Comment number 78.

    hookers armpit "This is all rather pointless though as you feel it will be a cold day in hell before MJ shifts over Borthwick. Highlighting one of his major managerial flaws - being unable to see/admit a mistake and act upon it"...

    i hear you...

    it all seems rather pointless indeed. im trying to clutch at straws and say its not our first team out there...only problem being it never is for anybody so we are still left looking a very b rate team.

    should we just start playing the likes of usa and canada and geogia etc until we have learnt to play rugby again?

  • Comment number 79.

    The media are well known for hunting as a pack and following a party line when they get their knives out. This is a case in point.
    An inexperienced make-shift England team looked poor. The media line is that this was one of the worst performances ever and somebody should be sacked.
    Tom Fordyce has joined in with enthusiasm.
    Tom & the rest of the media however describe Argentina's performance as 'spirited', 'effective' and report their captain's pride in their performance.
    Aren't there some double standards in evidence here?
    Argentina are several places above England in the world rankings and they were far closer to full strength.
    They have just lost to a lower ranked team accused of delivering the worst performance in living memory.
    How can the media portray this as a disgrace for the winning team and yet praise the team that lost to such alleged rubbish? Hypocrisy.

  • Comment number 80.

    Can anyone explain to me why Northern hemisphere teams have abandoned kicking into touch? Time and time again you see an aimless boot upfield. I have seen many a brilliant attack launched from such a kick - the only problem being that one side does the kick and the other side launches the attack. Even a well-chased kick almost never results in the kicking side getting the ball. The most they can do is catch the catcher, which leaves a small number of their team battling against almost the whole of the other side. Kicking into touch gives the other side the ball at the lineout, but at least your own team is up there contesting the ball, and if it's in the corner near enough to their line, all they can do is boot it out to clear their lines. England kicked time and time again in their first half against Argentina, to no effect whatsoever, but they actually tried to keep possession in the second half, so they played much better, but they still didn't use the option of kicking into touch. At last commentators have started to complain about kicking away possession, but they still never mention kicking into touch. If Dan Carter thinks it's worth doing, why don't we?

  • Comment number 81.

    I was sadly at the game on Saturday and more turgid dross I have never seen. The only positive for our nation was that we clearly still have some engineering and origami talent - as witnessed by a few of the paper planes making some yardage and getting the most enthusistic cheers (of the first half).

    Questions now need to seriously be asked about the coaching team. One of the BBC commentators on the highlights asked "What must Brian Smith make of this?" Err he at least has a chance (and is actually paid and tasked with the responsibility) of doing something about it - unlike the hard-working fans who paid to see that. The many social sides playing rugby around the country can conjure up backs moves within a 10 minute warm up that don't just involve 2 passes and then Haskell or Hartley taking it into two opponents in the centre of the pitch so why can't he in 3 weeks?

    Every aspect of our play is safety-first and some of the comments here have been that our players are playing with fear of doing something wrong. Maybe that's why Tait is being overlooked - he'll take a risk to create something and that attitude isn't welcome in this team.

    Guscott I think it was made a comment prior to the Oz v Ireland game that Oz play a certain style and that everyone coming in knows what it is and it makes it easy to play with. From the last few games we clearly have a style and that style is boring. I'd live with it if we won every game we played but we don't and we're along way off being world-beaters.

    Our kicking is dire - that includes Wilkinson, who's superb defence last week meant we were kinder on his kicking. If we create some quick phase possession we can advance up the pitch and if we need to kick we can either put it in touch near their line or hoist the ball with a chance of chasing and creating a mistake. Booting the ball from deep to the oppo is tedius and rarely creates any telling pressure.

    I think the injuries make a huge difference and think it is a legitimate excuse. That said how is it that Ireland fair so much better than we do with their squad.

    The bottom line is this. In season's gone by I'd be selling relatives to get a ticket for England v NZ at Twickenham. Now you'd have to pay me to go to the game on Saturday. I doubt I am the only person who feels this way and this is going to have an impact on RFU finances and the strength of the national game if it continues.

  • Comment number 82.

    The truth is that even when England were wining the World Cup it was winning ugly that did it for our boys. Most coaches in England know nothing about getting players to express themselves and players fear to try anything different in case they are dropped. Where are the coaches and players who are prepared to shift away from the tried and failed forward power and kicking game so beloved of England for years now. Was watching an England/All Blacks game from 30 years ago and England showed more artistry/guile then that they do now

  • Comment number 83.

    OK. Our pack needs to go forward - more aggression please!
    Our backs need to run onto the ball at pace. Simple!
    Add to that picking players in their normal positions and we might go somewhere.
    Care - no thanks. Banaham - 1 dimensional.
    Cueto - good game.
    Wilko - more distance from hand needed.
    We can play well if we want to.
    See you on Saturday.
    A bit more dynamism all round.

  • Comment number 84.

    Oh yes, I forgot, bring on Joe Simpson!

  • Comment number 85.

    I really do pity Martin Johnson. My heart goes out to him. I have a huge respect for the man, both as a player and a manager but to be saddled with a bunch of blocks, many of whom wouldn't even qualify for a NZ county side must seem like a job from hell. Lewis Moody, no matter how hard he tries cannot carry the team forever. I would propose that MJ send the entire team off to NZ, slot them into club sides [at least the ones who will have them] and leave them there for a season or two?? I digress of course but it's not a bad thought considering that after such a withering performance, the next match will be against the Kiwis [whose entire population is just slightly more than London's!]. We trawl the best of the english clubs and this is all we have? It's really quite depressing. The sad thing is that when we do finally win, there will be the usual comments that we are back on track! Hello lads. Go back to school. Being back on track and playing creative, attractive and intelligent rugby football means several seasons of getting it right. Now for the match.

    Which genius came up with the American Football-style run-up through the tunnel with those on the bench slapping those starting on the back! It's crass and totally uncalled for. Just walk out like they did in the old days, play and win. The All Blacks, Aussies, Irish, Scots, Argentinians, Fijians and virtually everyone else does it this way so why can't we?

    Monye is NOT a full back, not now, not ever so don't expect him to improve. Move him back to the wing or drop him until he learns to catch. He is clearly uncomfortable in the role. His hands are slippery than a fish. Big muscles and being able to run fast are not prerequisite for a Test place. Dan Carter will be licking his lips in anticipated glee at the prospect of hoisting the high ball!

    And when did Test newbies start commenting on their Team's performance post-match? Banahan's performance was middling to say the least and yet, we are groping for post match views from guys who have yet to prove their real worth. What next? A column with the Daily Mail? Right now, MJ needs to rope everyone back in and restrict post match interviews to himself, SB and maybe, the Man of the Match. That's it.

    To the coaching squad. Big does not mean bigger brains! I accept guys have to be strong to take the hits and give them but they need to be intelligent and read what's going on. They need to be creative. I see nothing in this team to demonstrate that quality. Everything is like a US football play book. And that is why, next Saturday, I will be rooting for the Kiwis. I sincerely hope they teach this team a real lesson in rugby football. The only way this team is really going to learn is to be humiliated on the pitch in front of their home crowd. I know it is not a kind thing to say, but if it can bring about a change in mindset - how we coach and how we play, then there is hope for the future.

  • Comment number 86.

    IMO the main issue is the lack of quick ball and this stems from the slowness ( on their feet and between the ears) of the forwards.

    When the ball is slow the opposition line up the defence and then the attacking backs ( especially in the England set up where they seem paralysed by fear) have no attacking options left so kick the ball.

    The kick is not preplanned so the backs are lying deep so its hard to chase.

    Also the backs especially no 10 are lying too deep at set pieces in an attempt to get a bit more time again giving the defence the opportunity to hit behind the gain line.

    dynamic rucking from the forwards and a quick pass from the scrum half is what is needed.

    also why does Wilkinson disappear from first receiver / stand off position so much? He seems to do this a lot.

  • Comment number 87.

    Perhaps a longer memory is warranted here and with it, a look at the state of the English game. When Mike Catt made one of his first appearances at 10 against Argentina in 1996 (england laboured to a 20-18 draw, saved only by a Jason Leonard try from a maul) England were booed off, so this latest performance is not without precident. Speaking as a neutral, with the notable exception of the period of about 1999 - 2003, England were frequently a very ordinary side and beating any one of the big three was the exception, rather than the rule - England had never won in Australia until 2002 and they are the weakest of the TN sides. Coming close to beating them was considered acceptable, Jack Rowell once said he was quite happy with England's losing performance to the NZ Barbarians!!! Aside from the attitude, the issue is more fundamental than light weight tops, it is about basic skills. England's rucking is technically very weak, imprecise and not agreesive, their 3/4 play is lateral, seeks contact rather than space and laboured. Further, Johnson's selection is flawed (Monye is NOT a 15) and tactical approach appears wrong. Alas, until the players are taught from the youngest age these basics, they will only be exposed, a situation made worse by the coach. Frankly, England are returning to what was previsouly normal and unless action is taken, the brief period of excellence will seem more and more like the exception rather than the rule.

  • Comment number 88.

    To me as an Irish supporter looking in it seems that England are simply reverting to type. The 2003 RWC was won be an 1 dimensional England side blessed with a couple of backs who could break the line and an OH who kicked like a machine. The rest of the rugby world has now moved on and England have stood still and as a result are looking ordinary.

    If anyone in the England set up needs to go then surely it is Rob Andrew. As when England have injuries the largest player pool in the world cannot replace them, surely a development issue which Andrew oversees.

    The match against NZ probably won't be a cricket score as England can't play as badly again and everyone raises their game to play the All Blacks, but as mentioned in another comment it may take a pasting to rattle a few cages in the RFU.

  • Comment number 89.

    As written in one of the earlier comments "a longer memory is warranted here" the tactics employed over the last 4+ years have not changed (to be fair its like a flash back to 1995). Kick long, chase and tackle; with the intention that applied defensive pressure will force the attacking team to lose possession/give away a penalty.
    The constant with this is one Mr John Wells!!

    Apologies in advance for this War & Peace but I've got to get this off my chest (My wife's not prepared to listen anymore):
    1) Injuries: The excuse of injuries is not an exceptable reason for the style of play employed.
    2) Kicking: From hand is a fine option if employed correctly; after all the basis of rugby is territory and possession. Kicking down the throat of the back three and begging them to counter is'nt!
    Also kicking coach Callard must surely be either asleep during training or believes what we are witnessing is acceptable. Is it any shock Wilko is still working with Dave Aldred? (Did'nt think so)
    3) Leadership: a) Onfield: A former Captain of Johnson's repute should understand the qualities required. The number one player in his position, someone to look towards for direction during the game, a man to control the referee. Unfortunately as much as the team may think he's a nice bloke Steve Bothwick fails to come close to ticking any of the relevant criteria. But he is a "Yes" man (just listen to the tripe post match)And did anyone else notice after the Aussie farce it was Wilko giving the group chat while the Captain looked at his laces?
    b) Off-field: A Manager is just that. A Coach is just that. The Manager should be remote form his staff in as much that if they arent either upto providing his vision or employing his directive to the troops his job is to find someone who will.
    4) Selection Policy: Fine so there are injuries; welcome to professional sport Mr. Johnson. That does'nt excuse putting Ugo at full back. Or picking Lumo-esc wingers and then ask them to chase kicks. Or BOTHWICK?!?!
    There are enough able, specialised, fullbacks to have filled the void.
    Also picking your 1st choice No.8 for one match (who although limited performed to his abilities and carried out what little directive they were given) then boot him out of the camp for the next? Yet MJ requests we stick with players and squads as time to gel is paramount?
    5) Substitutions: Johnson is clearly unaware of how to utilise his bench. The principle is pick your best available first team and expect them to be fit enough to last the match. Then a sub is only there to provide cover for injured players or (and this is where the awful term "impact player" coomes in) if a player is failing to perform his role then replace him. Impact is to change momentum.
    Against the Aussies we were leading the game but clearly under the cosh and the flood gates about to open. At this point you inject new imputus. Instead MJ waits till we fall behind and then throws caution to the wind (Poor Management)
    Againts the Argies we have the lead and look to be relatively in control. Johnson replaces 9 and 10. Impact response - instantly 9 kicks aimless away resulting in applied pressure from a 5mtr lineout for the closing moments. (Madness - no need for the change)
    6) Coaching: And so we return to Mr Wells.
    I fail to believe that a backs coach of Brain Smiths ability becomes devoid of ideas over night. Rather his is a voice not listened to. We know this to be the case: Brain Ashton (a Backs Coach of note) eluded to as much during his tenure with Wells. This squad and its tactics will not change all the while he is employed - FACT. Even if he relents and allows Brain Smith to dictate style I dont believe Wells is capable enough to understand the forwards requirements and task them appropriately.

    Rugby is simple - look at the South Africans - they win by having a giant front five who do nothing else then win line-outs, scrumage, and (most importantly) obliterate ruck situations. We however continually see tight five in wide positions, reciveing ball flat footed, and failing to clear out ruck ball.

    The most fustrating fact is the whole world knows whats wrong (Coaching) The Argies stated as much (commenting they knew how we'd line up and were'nt surprised)
    Yet Johnson's famous hard nosed, "backs to the wall", stance is'nt applicable at management level. you have to be remote and prepared to make the tough decisions.
    Unfortunately, myself included, all those who cheered his arrival have been found out.
    Depressingly I am almost worried we might not actually get hammered by NZ if only for the fact this will give the coaching staff another stay of execution; where as a drubbing might actually wake the RFU up and smell the Roses (sorry bad pun)

    RFU Take Note:
    Wells must go! Bothwick must be dropped! If Johnson is not intelligent or strong enough to do it then, sadly, so must he.

  • Comment number 90.

    Just some thoughts from the purple haze nightmare from Saturday;

    1)Why did it take 40 mins to move Monye from full-back?
    2)Moreover, why was he playing there in the first place?
    3)What's wrong with Foden? Isn't he a specialist full-back and currently playing well for Northampton?
    4)Why bring in Hodgson to speed things up and then just kick away possession? The weather wasn't that bad !!
    5)What happened to Borthwick when the players started looking to the bench for instructions on what to do when things started falling apart?
    6)Why was Shaw omitted, when our second row is so lightweight?

    BTW anyone read Jonny's piece in The Times today? Blimey, what nonsense.

  • Comment number 91.

    England's attacking coach/coaches need sacking. England are the only team in the world that could have a talent like Shane Geraghty in the side and render him completely anonymous by insisting that they attack with props with the ball in their hands or by kicking the ball away. It’s all grunt and grind .... that's the England ethos.

    I despair because England always have had a mindset where attack is synonymous with manfully seeking contact, getting the ball and charging into the nearest opponent. You just know that if it wasn't for injuries the England management would love to be picking Tindall and Noon lookalikes who could gallantly run into brick walls.

    This England regime is so scared to let the skilful boys have their head that on the odd occasion they are given a start they tie them down to stupid defence patterns where Wilkinson or Geraghty take it in terms to act as a second full back. The result being that England throw the ball around aimlessly miles behind the gain line and then seek contact or kick.

    The sad thing is I bet Johnno ends up replacing Geraghty and Hipkiss before they are ever given a proper chance, the same thing happened with Tait .... all England can think about is being so scared about defence, so scared about deploying skilful players, so scared about letting players play an open game where players actively pursue avoiding the opposition and scoring rather than clattering into them.

    We have the players we just need the coaching staff to give them the confidence and the wings to fly. Let's throw caution to the wind and attack, put Geraghty in at 10 and Wilkinson at inside centre or full back and let Geraghty run a fast attacking game.

    The England set up is and has been for years completely dominated by a defence first brute force policy ... they miss the point completely that nowadays speed is everything, there is no substitute for being lightening fast and, dare I say it, even England's crown jewel, Jonny Wilkinson is not quick enough of thought or deed to cause doubt in the opposition's mind at international level.

    I yearn for players like Geraghty, Hipkiss, Tait, Foden, Cueto and Monye to be properly valued and accommodated by the England management, not bent out of shape by them.

  • Comment number 92.

    I note the comments written by James Skinner @ #49. I wonder if the coaching staff ever read these blogs? Maybe a little reflection would help. The first thing they have to understand is that they are employed by the RFU. This is a business albeit one requiring the wearing of a tracksuit and boots and spending the day in a gym or on a pitch. Nevertheless, it is a business and in business, you critique each other and yourself. If you don't make the mark, then maybe this job is not for you?

    In my earlier comment, I reflected on the rather disturbing american-style sports hoopla creeping into the team. Could someone please, please tell me why we need both John Wells [Forwards Coach] and Graham Rowntree [Scrum Coach]? Doesn't JW perform perform all functions or vice versa? Then we have an Attack Coach!! who presumably trains both forwards and backs because both sets - Attack and then we have a Defensive Coach who also trains forwards and backs, because.... YES, both sets defend. Wow. Can I get a job on this team? I would suggest that MJ go back to basics and employ two coaches - one for the backs and one for the forwards. You could then pay a little more money and find guys who can bring something a little different to the table. Now for the kicking coach !! Wow! What on earth for? Seriously, is this position really required? Does JC possess a degree in bio-mechanics or sports science? MJ, how about a "Throw In Coach"? or a Ruck and Maul Coach?

    And yet, the RFU in all its infinite wisdom has to employ umpteen coaches, not to mention all the hangers on - presumably there are Assistants for each of these guys and strength coaches for the gym work. Wow, you can see a bloated and disfunctional organization that any half-baked management consultancy could see through as ripe for downsizing. Come on boys, its time for a little bit of humble pie. Go back to the basics and stop kidding yourselves. I tell you what. Here's a thought. Why don't we recruit someone from Australia or New Zealand?

  • Comment number 93.

    Its great to see that although their need to be some heads bashed together at the rfu englands supporters are STILL england supporters. theres cause for concern all over the place in the england camp but the red army still stands proud.
    All that aside your gonna get smashed like red headed step children on saturday by the all blacks but like i say, it can be expected. Just do well in the 6 nations jonno, these tests are simply that.

  • Comment number 94.

    The predominant feeling appears to be negative, and yet England, in a rebuilding phase, and with a very significant number of first choice players out, and rated 2 places lower than the team they played.... won the game. I really wish people would get both realistic and positive about our rugby union side.

  • Comment number 95.

    What rebuilding phase? That's a poor excuse. What is more worrying - a point completely missed in the recent comment - is that with the largest club rugby organization in the world, we are unable to produce enough quality players to seriously challenge for a first team place? And can I please request that we stop kidding ourselves about our ranking and beating a team 2 places higher! It was an excuse used by the team themselves. Yes, the Pumas are good but they are not that good and they will come seriously adrift once they join the Southern Hemisphere tri-nations. We are better than them. Period.

    Believe it or not, criticism is not a reflection of one's loyalty to one's country or rugby football team. On the contrary, I believe it shows a heightened sense of loyalty, but one focused on seriously wanting to become the team we know we can be. The reasons why the Aussies, Kiwis and South Africans are in the premier league is that unlike us, they refuse to accept their inadequacies, do not come up with excuse after excuse and perhaps more important, get rid of non-performing players and coaching staff.

  • Comment number 96.

    Ermmm... the rebuilding phase that follows the retirement from international rugby of a core of players of world class and vast experience including Josh Lewsey, Jason Robinson, Martin Johnson, Lawrence Dallaglio, Mike Catt etc etc. PLayers who, despite our coaching and strategic shortcomings in the last world cup, played themselves into the final despite being written off by people like you.

    It's not an excuse. What is true is that Argentina are ranked higher. Why is this?.. becasue they are better than England currently. It's based on actual results. So we clearly are not better than them. But we won the game, and I celebrate that.

    Yes its true that South Africa, the Kiwis and Australia consistently beat us... but they do not get booed by their own fans when they lose.

    The pressure on English rugby from a negative public and press deluded by the arrogant assumption that England are "better than them, period", in spite of clear evidence to the contrary, will always be too high to allow a consistent selection of both coaching staff and players. This is the key to experience, confidence and a winning mentality.


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