‘Grand Slam’ should not be dirty words

RBS Six Nations TrophyTwo weeks into the current Six Nations campaign, Martin Johnson and the rest of the England camp were asked about the possibility of winning the Grand Slam. As predicted we got the same routine answer of, “we haven’t even thought about it”, and “we’re only concentrating on the next game”. 

I understand that sporting psychology lends itself to various clichés like, “concentrate on each individual game and the silverware will look after itself”, and “talking about trophies doesn’t improve results”. But neither does NOT talking about it.

James Haskell in his Nandos-promoting post-match interview called the Grand Slam a dirty word. I couldn’t help think that this has been ingrained from the powers that be. But why? Do they really think that talking about it means it will jinx it?

My request is this – I would like Martin Johnson with the rest of the team and management to raise the bar on their attitude and on their expectations. Let them tell the world that they are here to win the Grand Slam. I realise that the cynics amongst you will call that the kiss of death, and if they were to slip up in Dublin then they would have egg on their faces and that the players would only have themselves to blame for being too optimistic and ahead of themselves. I can already hear the Celtic Nations now talking about typical English arrogance, but in this era of professional sport, are we really that superstitious? With positive thinking comes positive outcomes, so let’s not be so coy.

Here’s another cliché, “shoot for the stars, and you’ll reach the moon.” Or in rugby terms, train to beat New Zealand, and you’ll conquer the Northern Hemisphere. Shoot a little further and you might just achieve both. That also raises another question, and it’s the question that everybody wants to avoid asking, let alone attempt to answer. Was that performance good enough to beat New Zealand? That surely needs to be the main question in a World Cup year. If Andy Murray wins his first round match at Roland Garros, there is still ultimately only one question that needs to addressed, was that performance good enough to beat Rafael Nadal? Beating FC Copenhagen in the Champion’s League doesn’t mean much if you can’t go on to beat Barcelona or Real Madrid. You get my point…

The number one priority should always be to concentrate on the next game, sure. But don’t ignore the obvious because make no mistake, the England team are going to Dublin to win the Grand Slam. We know it, they know it. Why can’t they talk about it?

By Charlie Fletcher

6 thoughts on “‘Grand Slam’ should not be dirty words

  1. Think you’ll find that MJ has lifted the ban and whilst it’s not being banded around left, right and centre the players are free to talk about the Grandslam.

  2. I think the sentiment still applies though – there shouldn’t even need to be talk of a ban. That must have been the goal at the start, so they must have discussed it, rather than ‘taking one game at a time’ as they say to the press.

    Getting excited about the game now!

  3. Talking about the psychology, Clive Woodward I believe followed the same path of ‘let’s just concentrate on the next game’, UNTIL the grand slam 2003 game in Dublin, whereby he laid on the pressure, told the players and the press that this was a must-win game would all but destroy their world cup ambitions if they lost. This was with a view to recreating the pressure they would feel later on in the year, being favourites and expecting to still win.

    England aren’t there yet. Yes of course they will be wanting the grand slam but in order to shoot for the stars they have to build the ladder to get there one rung at a time. Their medium term focus I hope has always inwardly to win the grand slam, and accept nothing less; the long term focus should obviously be to win the world cup; the short term though should focus on building combinations, learning how to win ugly as well as pretty, and develop strength in depth. The ‘GS’ word is secondary to these considerations which I think rightly deserve the full consideration of the England staff.

  4. Hi Justin, you’re right that England aren’t there yet. Truth be told, other than our last Autumn performance against the Wallabies, (which was arguably good enough to beat the All Blacks) we haven’t been there in 8 years. But they have some solid momentum at the moment, and I just don’t see how this reservedness can have a positive affect.

    Don’t get me wrong, of course ‘GS’ discussions are secondary to performance, that’s obvious. But to be almost in denial and describe it as a dirty word (as Haskell did) seems madness!

    3 days and counting…

  5. I cant believe HAskell mentioned Nandos in his after match speech!

    I think you are making too much of this dont-talk-about-the-slam.

    of course everyone knows its on! Youll put more pressure and expectation on the slam by NOT talking about. the Elephant in the room so to speak.

    Simply put, talking about the slam is presumptuous and the England guys are having a bit of fun “not” talking about it.

  6. I support Charlie’s article – the English are rubbish about setting clear targets for their performance and ambitions. Stating you wish to win the Grand Slam isn’t arrogance, unless you’ve lost the previous 15 matches in a row! When a team enters the 6 Nations you have to set goals – win the Triple Crown, win the Championship, take a Grand Slam – if you don’t your team has no real focus. ‘We want to win so the press don’t say we’re rubbish and the coaches should get the sack’, isn’t a professional sports goal! Goals give you a focus and a time-span to work to – win the 6 Nations Grandslam, win all our home games in 2011, be number one or two in the world rankings in two years time, win the World Cup, etc. etc. The players and coaches should be clear and vocal about their goals. I’m not convinced England really know what they want to achieve, let alone how to get there. My worry is that I don’t think England really expected to be doing this well and that’s why they don’t want to ‘jinx’ it – not that it’s a ‘rule’ not to talk about it.

Comments are closed.