England in disarray…still

The so-called new era under Martin Johnson cannot come quickly enough. For 5 years, England has been rubbish and the latest episode in New Zealand has plumbed new depths of embarrassment.

On the pitch, there never seemed to be that collective desire that’s required to take on and beat the great teams – there were a few bright sparks of passion and commitment in the shape of James Haskell and Luke Narraway (among one or two others), but it’s not enough.

Off the pitch, it seems that their unaffected attitude has landed them in trouble. Rather than reflecting on another defeat, there were cheers and beers in a nightclub followed by that alleged debauchery that is simply unacceptable by anyone, let alone professional international sportsmen.

Last week I wrote a fairly optimistic summary of what we could take from the first test, but this week it is all a bit bleak.

Johnson needs to start from scratch.

10 thoughts on “England in disarray…still

  1. Can’t believe they were allowed to go out again after what happened last time: “Despite the controversy, England’s management agreed to allow players to go out in Christchurch after the 44-12 second Test defeat to the All Blacks following a team meeting with senior squad members.

    Those players who opted to head into the city centre were accompanied by security guards and set a curfew of 0400. “Some of the players did go out last night and we did talk about that as a group, whether it was appropriate in the circumstances,” said Rob Andrew, England’s elite rugby director.

    “It is the end of a very long 12 months for these guys. It has been a tough experience out here, on and off the field. Some players went out, some didn’t.

    “We spoke to the senior players. We are not going to lock them in their rooms after a Test match. Players have got to take responsibility for their own actions, on and off the field.

    “They went out last night, they were back at a certain time and they were having medical reviews at 8am this morning.”

  2. 4am seems a pretty reasonable curfew – I mean what could possibly go wrong at that time of night…?

  3. Rob Andrew said that this was not a tour from hell, “not by any stretch of the imagination”. What planet is he on? I hope now that Johnno makes a high profile statement that he was very dissatisfied with events on and off the pitch, and that he will not tolerate such poor standards going forward. The original post has it spot on – he is starting from scratch. The ineptitude we saw this weekend makes me so mad, I can’t deal with it all in one post. More later.

  4. I’m a bit out of the loop right now with limited access to all the press and usually out of date when I see it. However, I did manage to catch both games fortunately and although there were some glaring inadequacies I still think there were some positives to be taken.

    Firstly, what did people expect? I think I’m right in saying we have only won in NZ twice perhaps, one of which was by 2 pts with the best team we’ve ever produced. The ABs may have appeared very slightly different from the line up we’ve come to expect, but they were always going to be fearsome.

    Our defence from first phase was abysmal, the front row a real disappointment and the lack of creative ambition in the backs typically irritating. However, the back row as whole were very impressive, mixing it with some of the most established and experienced opponents in the game, hats off especially to Tom Rees. Danny Care was a bright spark and given a proper fly half and a decent backs coach we do have some dangerous players out wide.

    Yes, we were thumped but I agree with Andrew, no tour from hell. Let’s be honest, we were never going to win and the 2nd scoreline was a touch flattering and could/should have been a lot closer.

    Also, I think you’re being very harsh on the players who went out. I don’t know the details but bottom line is this was an end of season rugby tour. Yes they are profesional athletes, they are also normal twenty-somethings and rugby players. My suspicion and hope is that this allegation hanging over them is bogus, however shady the circumstances may have been, so they should definitely get out and have a beer with their opponents/fans.

    We probably talk far too much about building for the future and signs of potential, but I think we will have a far better insight into Johno’s reign after the Autumn internationals.

  5. I would far rather have the England backline that played in the Churchill cup rather than those who played in NZ,minus probably only Ryan Lamb,especially Hodgson,Allen and Smith who are the most overlooked by selectors and are great footballers both in attack and defence.Noon /Tindall combination a disaster, easy for NZ as together they pose little or no threat.Kahui, what a player!

  6. Hate to be the pessimist, but I really thought it was awful. I was impressed by Tait this weekend (apart from when he failed to collect for the would-be try, but that was difficult) and Haskell was again excellent.
    But it’s the back play that gets me most depressed. You know the Blacks are going to mix things up with clever moves and decoys, so have a plan to deal with it. I’m not saying they should have known how to counter every move, but they made it easy. Getting duped into a situation where you are exposed by an overlap is one thing, but missing tackles and forgetting who is marking whom in midfield is basic. And they apparently focused all of their build-up on this aspect?
    And in attack, it’s already been said enough here that we are clueless and unimaginative. What’s worrying is that it’s not something Johnno is well placed to address directly. The backs coach THE key apporintment.
    Final point, addressed to Mr Tindal – I’m so glad you found it amusing to be yellow-carded with 20 minutes to go in a game when you are losing heavily and are personally having a bad game – seeing you smile and laugh really made me feel better about things. Hope you didn’t dwell on this too much when it came to the post-game booze up.

  7. Whilst Rob does put together a good argument as to why it isn’t all doom and gloom my reaction is why should we be satisfied that because we’ve only ever won there twice before we shouldn’t be disappointed when we get thrashed twice in a row?
    We’ve become accustomed to playing rubbish and taking (minor) positives every time we play. The NZ team wasn’t even that good – they made so many mistakes in attack in the first match in the final 20 because they had it so easy and lost focus!
    It isn’t good enough that our back row competed. There are no other front five players in England waiting in the wings to play in the Autumn – that is the best we have to offer. The only players in that side who will ever approach world class are Rees, Haskell and Tait.

  8. Perhaps as an All Blacks supporter my views are not very popular here, but, why has this time been so different?

    I mean, despite that England is one of only 5 nations to have ever defeated New Zealand, they usually lose 75% of the games against the All Blacks, being the mean score 25-13.

    If England is in a rebuilding phase, such tests can end up into such scores and, nevertheless, still have profitable things. For example, Topsy Ojo smells like a long-term regular of the english team, as the tighthead prop does (Stevens is his name?)

    I think losing to Scotland in the 6N is much worse than losing two tests in New Zealand.

  9. But bear in mind that the 75% covers some very different eras. Things have changed a lot in the last decade or so. The pro era, of course, but at the level we are talking the arrival of the RWC has changed the whole focus of international rugby. Hard to believe now that not so long ago the European nations were only really focused on the 5 Nations. SCW’s involvment also accelerated things – he believed from the beginning that England could take on beat the Southern Hemisphere teams.
    All of this explains why, Snr 64, the folks here have higher expectations than our forebears. But it doesn’t mean you won’t be right – that England will revert to the historical norm. The next few years will be very interesting.
    By the way, I’m sure most of the people frequenting this site welcome input from a rugby fan like yourself, regardless of national allegiance. However, if you think you’re going to worm your way into our hotel room, forget it.

  10. Sorry, but on the hotel room thing, I’m sick of hearing this crap about how they will have to change the rules to make it prohibited. Are you telling me the rules, the code of conduct they have today, don’t already set the guiding principle that bringing girls back to the hotel in the early hours following a hefty defeat, is inappropriate? Nothing in there about not causing potential embarrassment to a team of professional sportsmen representing their country? The reality here is that the people involved should have been heavily disciplined, and not considered for the next several months. But if you insist that it was an omission from the rule book Mr Andrew, you should consider some other potential things to include, just so everyone’s clear. For example, are having sex with wild animals or defacating in the fountains covered?

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