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rugby world cup
heineken cup
grass roots
Stop Bleating, Play Rugby
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We read this week that the criticism of Martin Johnson by the worlds press is grossly unfair. Really? And who is it that has come up with this stunning revelation? Tom Croft and Toby Flood. Apparently it is not Martin Johnson's fault that England were so abject during thier all too fleeting appearance in the Rugby World Cup. We should instead blame England's players, including of course Toby Flood and Tom Croft.

While I applaud the loyalty being demonstrated by said players, the evidence for the case against Johnson is plentiful and quite compelling. However, I would agree that the performance of the Manager, or Head Coach or whatever the RFU are calling him this week, is not the only reason that England not only fell at the quarter final stage, but became a laughing stock in the process. Oh no, for this the RFU must accept a huge part of the blame themselves. Will they? Not in a month of Sundays. They will continue to pat themselves wholeheartedly on the back and convince one another over a glass of port at The East India Club that they are doing a splendid job, and all is well with English rugby. Well, you're not and it isn't.

We seem convinced that the structure of English rugby is set up to carry us forward into the next RWC (being held in England ironically enough), and enable the national side to be competitive. I can only assume that we are satisfied with it because nobody is talking about it. I don't mean the structure at the RFU, because who cares frankly? Rob Andrew will continue to hinder development and progress whatever job title you give him. No, what I mean is the whole structure of the game - from grass roots to the Aviva Premiership. We need to ask ourselves some searching questions, that we may not necessarily like the answers to.

I have my own ideas on the answers to those questions, and they are in the negative. So what is the answer? In my opinion, the answer is two fold - regional rugby and separating the Heineken Cup out of the normal rugby season. The Northern Hemisphere must adapt and go to a structure that is more along the lines of the Currie Cup/Super 15, and the NPC in New Zealand/Super 15. Imagine telling SANZAR that they now had to play their domestic competitions at the same time as the Super 15. Nonsense.

The Heineken Cup is a wonderful competition, and a hint at the kind of rugby that our top players ought to be and could be playing week in week out. They aren't though, and the stark reality is that the Northern Hemisphere has won the RWC once (I am confident that France will not be bringing home the Webb Ellis trophy on Sunday). The other painful truth for the RFU is that Wales, Ireland and even Scotland are closer to getting the structure right than we are.

All of which of course has detracted me from the original point - Martin Johnson has not done well enough. His win ratio is not acceptable, he has delivered one Six Nations (with no Triple Crown or Grand Slam), England do not look capable of mounting a credible challenge to South Africa or New Zealand, and England continue to play old fashioned rugby that the rest of the world has left behind. So, Toby and Tom, stop bleating and play rugby. After all, if the players are to blame, then perhaps we shouldn't pick them again.


Street Talk

Hi there, speaking from a kiwi perspective, we were incredibly disappointed for the England supporters who deserved so much more than what they got from their team,who played like amateurs and behaved like boof heads. "4 more years" is hard to take guys, we kiwis know this only too well! Good luck for 2015!

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  about 1 decade ago
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