Sportsthoughts (138) – Goodbye England!

So goodbye England.

Against Fiji you were OK, but nothing more.

Against Wales you were strong but gave the game away. You lacked composure and discipline when it mattered.

Against Australia you lacked creativity and defensive nous. Your self belief looked gone. The Aussies had all three of those qualities and had sorted out their scrum.

In the end it looked like you didn’t have the big match temperament. Dropping George Ford for Owen Farrell before the Welsh game showed excessive caution – lack of self-belief again.

I guess the management resorted to the Saracens way as soon as the pressure was on.

You have to say that the tournament organisers showed great probity by having an honest draw that put the hosts in the Group of Death. The only group with three top teams. Puts FIFA to shame (not hard).

Commercially bonkers though.

You can’t fault the effort of the team. They gave their all. But their flaws – and those of the management – were cruelly exposed.

World Cups are like that. Football as well as rugby.

Maybe they should get Clive Woodward to advise them on how it’s done!

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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6 Responses to Sportsthoughts (138) – Goodbye England!

  1. Dood says:


    Amid all the gnashing of teeth, beating of breasts, and general air of recrimination, very few pundits have actually said what they WANTED instead of this. Tom Fordyce, the BBC website’s chief sports writer, and normally a reasoned and insightful commentator, lambasts the team and the management this morning, but doesn’t venture to suggest what the alternative should have been – or indeed should be in the future.

    Unlike you, I thought that Farrell was the right option against Wales, and he did just about everything in the game that he could have done; so I’m not surprised he was picked over Ford again. But what do you think we should do? Pick a Bath-style side with lots of flair in the backs, but not a lot of defensive solidity? Start again from scratch in the scrum, where Marler and Cole looked flawed, the second row failed to impress, and the back row was frequently blown away?

    If not Lancaster, who? Some grizzled old seer like Graham Henry or Jake White? A new bright spark from the English club game? And how should the team best play? This is not impossible – Cheika managed it in twelve months for the Aussies – but I’m just not sure we know the way ourselves.

    Answers on a postcard, please! Quite a large one, I suspect.

    • John S says:

      Questions, questions…

      Just spent an enjoyable hour reading the various post mortems on the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph websites. Almost as much fun as winning!

      A great English tradition. Euro 16 next I guess.

      The bottom line for me is that Lancaster should have kept faith with the team that was unlucky not to win the 6 Nations. A solid base and players getting used to each other. But no, he left Burrell and Twelvetrees (and Cipriani) out of the squad and brought Burgess in as a centre, when Bath don’t even think that’s his right position. Disruption, uncertainty. He picked Parling ahead of Launchbury. He inexplicably thinks Wigglesworth brings more to the team than Danny Care (OK, slight Quins bias there). He left Nowell out and brought May back in, who we know can be flaky. He left Hartley out of the squad. Yes he would have missed the first game through suspension, but is easily the best hooker and lineout thrower.

      Instability and uncertainty where there didn’t need to be. Still not sure whether to play Bath-style or Saracens-mode. Latter, sadly, the default option, as always, with England.

      I must admit, too, that Chris Robshaw was disappointing – as captain and No7. We all know the best Englishman in the position is Steffon Armitage, who starts for Toulon. Funny that, Matt Giteau stars for Toulon too… I’m not suggesting there should have been a last minute change – that would go against the thrust of my argument here. But the RFU needs to re-think those rules about home-based only, even though it would risk an exodus of top players to France while they practise a different approach to salaries.

      Anyway, all this, no doubt, will be rehearsed at tedious length over the next week or so in the papers, and we’ll almost forget there’s a World Cup going on!

      And there’s always Arsenal v Man Utd at 4pm today.

    • Sorry Spanky, about the Wallabies’ dominance – an exciting game all the same! I’m freshly back from Australia and the hysteria of the Aussie Rules finals – so well primed for some loud barracking. And what about that fabulous Foley. Had to feel sorry for Stuart Lancaster though.

      • John S says:

        Foley was brilliant, but was portrayed as a weak link beforehand. I’m probably rooting for the Aussies now, though I know it should be Ireland really.

  2. Resa says:

    Wow, that seemed over with quickly! Are you rooting for another now?
    Good news over here, Toronto Blue Jays have made the play ofs for the first time in 22 years. The games begin on Thursday!

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