Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Hobbits on Babysham?

The perceived wisdom of the English press is that England are likely to get something of a stuffing from the Springboks over the next two weekends because Brian Ashton has been unable or unwilling to name a contingent of players, mostly forwards, who played for Leicester and Wasps in last weekend’s Heineken Cup Final.

The implication is, of course, that had these players been available and selected then all would have been well, that the form of some of the Leicester forwards over the last few weeks and the heroics of the Wasps pack on Saturday would somehow have enabled England to steamroller the Springboks into submission.

This theory, however, ignores some fairly basic facts:
  • that two different England packs were taken to the cleaners in this season’s Six Nations by Italy (at Twickenham, no less), Ireland and (heaven help us) Wales;
  • that the Wasps and Leicester players mentioned in dispatches by the press are all likely to be running on empty after another ridiculously long and arduous domestic season; and
  • that when you look at the vast majority of those players, their form in an England shirt over the last 12 to 18 months or so hardly inspires confidence.

I’m not saying we won’t take a beating from the South Africans. It just that, if we do, it will have less to do with the personnel involved and more to do with the current state of English rugby and our inability to put together a decent pack of forwards.

From White Orcs on Steroids to Hobbits on Babysham in four short years...

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