Thursday, 27 October 2011

Whither England 2011

Four years ago, after the 2007 World Cup, I wrote an optimistic post entitled “Whither England”, such optimism being based on the presumption that England would move forward with a degree of stability.

Stability? What was I thinking? Four years on and here we are after another World Cup with an England squad in crisis, a coaching team on the verge of being disbanded and a governing body not fit for purpose and awash with internal investigations and reviews.      

The good news is that the news isn’t all bad. A poor World Cup aside, the following players can all still be said to have had a decent last 12-18 months in an England shirt and should form the basis of the England squad in 2012:

Alex Corbisiero, Matt Stevens, Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Tom Palmer, Courtney Lawes, Tom Croft, Tom Wood, James Haskell, Ben Youngs, Toby Flood, Manu Overboard, Chris Ashton and Ben Foden.

That’s not a bad core group and, if you also consider the success of the England Under 20s last season and the fact that Tigers fly half George Ford has just been named IRB young player of the year, there is every reason to think that the bare ingredients are there for England to be successful.

Unfortunately it's not just going to be about the playing personnel as we come back to that word again – stability. For England to prosper we will need a stable and supportive RFU as well as a senior coaching team willing to embrace whatever it takes to produce a winning team.

Put simply, what is needed is a leaner, fitter, more technically accomplished and utterly professional England squad, doing the simple things well.

I won’t be holding my breath.


Nursedude said...

I whole lot can happen in 4 years. England will be hosting the next World Cup, which I do think helps.

Just look at the 6 Nations, four different nations have lifted that trophy in the past 4 years.

I think if England can concentrate on the action on the pitch instead of blonds, brews and bars, they will do just fine. Hopefully England can learn from this experience.

Live Rugby Commentary said...

It would seem that England are experiencing the same demons that Wales did a few years back (in relation to the beers, blondes, dwarves and ferry diving). This stems from poor management and team-building. Unprofessional conduct such as this is often a sign that players do not take pride in their work and do not feel they are part of a team.