Jason Robinson wants to see more from England

Rugby World Cup winner and British & Irish Lions legend Jason Robinson is an HSBC ambassador. Jason was attending Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens tournament running special coaching clinics for participating schools courtesy of HSBC. For more information visit www.rpns7.co.uk.

19 thoughts on “Jason Robinson wants to see more from England

  1. In reality, rugby union is still seen as elitist in some parts of England, so talented players go to rugby league instead. The pool of potential players is therefore limited to the public school system, and nepotism is rife. Until those issues are sorted, English rugby will not reach its full potential.

    1. Tony, i agree that there can be nepotism in rugby at younger stages in the development process. I recall as a youngster that i should change clubs if i wanted to “progress” at the time i did not fully understand what was being suggested and preferred to stay at the club where i had learnt the game. Fortunately i was able to progress because by chance a representative coach just happened to see me play a game, but by this stage i was playing with a serious injury and it was probably too late.

      However, i am not so sure that i totally agree with your comments about talented players going to league instead. in the past league drew so many players to it because it was the “professional” game, but in more recent history union has rapidly overtaken league in terms of the money that is available. hence why the likes of Andy Farrell, Chris Ashton, Joel Tomkins and Kyle Eastmond (just to name a few) have made the switch of codes.

      Some of the best rugby players i have come across came up through the state system.

      I believe Joe Marler, Billy Twelvetrees and Dylan Hartley all came through the comprehensive schooling system and the Sussex County set up. that is just 3 of the england squad.

      1. I think that the Elitist/driven to RL issue is possibly more of an issue in the North, where there is a large RL community.

        In the South East, nepotism is an issue however, as are Public Schools, who train their boys hard and regularly from a young age, giving the boys with money more of an opportunity at a young age and discouraging the younger lads in the comprehensive system.

        Of course, some will still shine through, but the potential is not realised in a very large proportion of the community.

        On the nepotism side, there is stark contrast with Wales and the West Country, where I have lived, in that the teams there are run by club-people (often parents as well), whereas in the South East they tend to be run by aspiring, ambitious parents with varying levels of competency, and/or very loose links to the club they represent.

        Because of the greater competition (in terms of structures), the existence of A, B, C etc teams from a very young age, then the stronger (and usually older) players at a very young age tend to get the focus, the opportunities and often the better coaching which in turn leads to a focus on them, and sometimes a lack of focus on the others.

        This leads to a missed opportunity to identify, and nurture the later developers, who may well have just as much potential, but just not the right support or opportunity.

        1. In terms of late developers I believe that Alex Cuthbert and Ryan Jones only started playing rugby in their late teens…

          As for English rugby – as an outsider part of the problem to me seems to be the route from youth to adult, with two main problems I see (all my opinion)

          1) The gym culture. Eng U20s smash pretty much everyone else in the NH. On Fri night they scored two tries from pure strength. At U20s level the size difference is marked, the English guys look like body builders. Once they come up against adults who are just as fit as them they then seem clueless as to why the old bash through isn’t working anymore and lots of promising youngsters seem to drift away.

          2) Oppportunity. Where can these guys go when 18/19? Lots of them end up farmed out to lower clubs and seem to lose their passion for the game. Too many foreigners and journeymen taking their places. It’s a tricky balance – you don’t want to the way of the Welsh regions and turn into nurseries.

          1. Brighty. I completely agree with your comments regarding the Gym monkey factor. You have used the u20s as a very good example. Another example Was pretty prevalent for me at school. M
            I had spent time in Australia, aged 12-14, and was probably too young to use the gym, so we used to play touch rugby a lot instead (we often would meet up out of school on weekends to play, as well as before/after school and during lunch) the result was that when I returned to England I was a lot more skilful than my teammates (even the flyhalf, and yet I was an 8)

            I was lucky enough to be a big lad as a kid, but the older I got, the more people began going to the gym. I continued playing touch instead, because I felt that an ability to give a perfect pass was more important than simply running over someone. My lack of passion for the gym eventually counter against me though, as other players starting being selected over me. I recently met up with some old school friends to discuss many former opposition who are now playing professionally. The biggest factor that stood out about most of them is that they had been gym monkeys, something that is clearly valued over other aspects of play.

            In fact, Joe Launchbury was released by Quins Academy because they wanted a player who was more physical and had an “edge”. That player is Charlie Matthews, I know which of the two I would have preferred have in my team!

          2. Simo, did you do age grade or weight “grade” rugby when you were in Aus? I wish we could adopt weight based team grading over here.

            My sons U11s have a team from Brest over soon, I am arranging the accommodation for their boys and noticed that their “under 11s” team is made up of 6 U12s, 6 U11s two U10s and an U8. Seems they’re picking on size, not age. NZ do the same and I think, as you suggest, this removal of the size benefit at an early age means you have to win by skill, not power. Power can come later once you have the skill base.

          3. Brighty, we played age grade there. It was schools rugby, so you played by year group.

            I disagree with the playing on weight idea. Granted, I was always one of the bigger kids (at 18 I was 6ft5, 18 stone number 8), but during my time in Australia the most aggressive tackler in our team was our 10.

            Similarly I played against a school who had a flyhalf who was not the biggest, but was an outstanding playmaker (later turner out to be James O’Connor).

            Sure you get he odd Pacific Islander who lost his birth certificate in a cyclone (like to be the case with the Vunipola’s and Edwin Make) but that’s part of rugby. Any aspiring players need to be able to deal with big guys, because the day they step out of weight grade rugby will destroy them as a player.

  2. Whereas Rugby league is full of people who are scared to tackle or engage.. otherwise they wouldn’t have so many Union converts….

  3. i think that england have 3 options and 1 must if they want to progress. the must is to have either brown or foden play 15. all 3 options revolve around the 12 channel. I will put the 3 options in order of preference (my opinion) with the first being the strongest in my view.

    Option 1 – Billy Twelvetrees to play 12 partnering Manu. I have explained umpteen times on this forum why 12Ts is the perfect option for england. but in a nutshell, he has a flyhalf’s brain and skill in a 6ft3 100kg body. he is everything that SL said he wanted in a 12 when first taking charge of the team.

    Option 2 – Kyle Eastmond to play 12, with Manu at 13. He has great skill, outstanding footwork and an X-factor that can unlock defences. he is also pretty speedy and has great hands and i understand a pretty decent boot. especially for little rugby league style chips. he could work pretty well working with farrell, occasionally stepping in at first receiver to create the space he used to in rugby league.

    Option 3 – Owen Farrell to play 12, with Manu at 13 and Burns at 10. Burns brings the X-Factor to create something from nothing. Farrell has a decent passing game, (especially by the standards of a centre) and his time at 10 helps with his understanding of the game. Burns is the main man charged with running the game, but Farrell is still there to kick the goals. He is a solid defender, and to too bad at carrying the ball either.

    All 3 of these options have one key element. Having a passing centre partnering Manu.

    although the options of guys like JJ and Daly (or even Matt Tait) at 13 (having Manu shift in to 12) could also work, i think the above options are more sound, as these two guys are more the type of centres who use an outside break to try and gas people, they are not as creative as some other options. Both however would be pretty handy cover options, and their versatility means they should definitely be around the squad.

    A final option would be to play Tomkins in the centre, with Manu, either at 12 or 13. This is probably too similar to the Barritt/Tuliagi option, although it does have the extra dimension of Tomkins’ offloading, which would be useful for putting Manu into some good holes. Again though, i think that this should be more of a back-up option.

    The good news is, that with the likes of 12Ts, Farrell, Eastmond, Daly, Tait and JJ all being so versatile, there should always be space and reasoning to have guys like them in the squad.

    This would be my next EPS squad if i was choosing it – Bracketed players would be in the Saxons, but as first choice injury cover options. (also this is for after the lions, so a full strength squad)

    Looseheads- Corbisero, Vunipola, Marler (Wood, Mullan)
    Hookers – Youngs, Hartley (Webber, Gray Buchanan)
    Tighheads – Cole, Thomas (Doran-Jones)
    4’s – Launchbury, Lawes (Kruis)
    5’s – Parling (Kitchener, Gaskell)
    6’s – Wood, Haskell, Croft (Clark)
    7’s – Robshaw, Kvesic (Fraser, Wallace)
    8’s – Morgan, Vunipola (Crane, Guest) – this is a worry as we dont have younger options in the saxons

    9’s – Youngs, Care, L. Dickson (Simpson, K. Dickson)
    10’s – Farrell, Burns (Ford)
    12’s – Twelvetrees, Eastmond, Tomkins (Barritt, Turner-Hall)
    13’s – Tuilagi, Daly, Joseph, Tait (Trinder, Lowe)
    Wings – Wade, May (Yarde, Biggs)
    Fullbacks – Brown, Foden (Goode, Abendanon, Miller)

    My Options for wing and 15 seem thin, but Daly, Tait and JJ can all play 13, wing and 15. Jonny May has also spent a bit of time at 13 and 15 too. It would also be nice if someone could convince Delon Armitage to come back, as another fullback would always be nice!

    1. George Robson has to be an option at 5, he’s been one of Quins’ best players for a while. I also think you’re being a bit harsh on Ashton, he certainly deserves to be in the EPS, if not a match-day squad; the same applies to Strettle and Flood IMO.

      I really like your three options, however. I don’t mind Barritt but I do agree that we need a bit more creativity (although Wales seem to be fine without much creativity, but to be fair they are extremely good at what they do, which we aren’t) and he can’t provide that (although I do feel he gives more than he is given credit for).

    2. mike, i agree with Robson, he was actually one of my options before the backups. although i checked his age, and he is 28, so i decided to lean a bit more youthful. (i struggled at 8, which is why guest – also 28 – made it in as a backup). but i agree with robson. and if parling is taken to aus with the lions, then i think robson has to be the 5 for the argentina trip.

      i am on a real anti-ashton swing at the moment. i feel that he has not been delivering the goods, and he needs a wake up call. being dropped from the EPS will either make or break him in my opinion.

      With strettle, i just figure that if he still isnt being chosen over a fullback on the wing with another fullback playing poorly and a winger playing even worse, then when will he be? the fact that we did not see him in the 6Ns (and unlike foden questions were not raised over his fitness) speaks volumes in my mind.

      i probably was a bit harsh on flood. but i was restricted to 33 players (the size of the EPS) and i decided that i would sacrafice him, because i think england need to commit to the Farrell/Burns cause. these two are young, and different to each other. i like having players who contrast, because it means that they offer something different off the bench. Flood would probably leapfrog Ford if an injury occured. (so that Flood added to the saxons)

      I too dont mind Barritt. I call him mr reliable. in my mind being reliable is a HUGE compliment. but the problem is, that is based on his defence. and england need more than just a reliable defender at 12. if an injury occurred to manu, then i think brad would be right in at 13 for me, but with so many more talented options at 12 we need to pursue that. the fact that barritt was in my saxons shows that i do hold him in a high regard.

      1. I think 28 is fine. 28 means that he will be 30/31 at the next WC – certainly not useless, just look at Easter or even Wilko and Sheridan! I think (and I’m not saying you think this) we have to make sure that we don’t just set an age limit on an international team in the guise of “planning for the future”.

        Our international team is not primarily planning for the super long-term future, they’re planning for the 2015 WC. Any players who are likely to be in consideration for 2015 should be considered IMO. Otherwise, we could become so obsessed with youth that we prioritize blooding young players ahead of actually winning tournaments. There’s a time and a place, of course – but there has to be a main focus, and for us that has to be 2015, not 2019.

          1. He is failing to make it into the bath team because of Banahan and Eastmond.

            Hipkiss is too similar again to Manu and Brad. Sure he had a bit more of a step than both, but ultimately he is a crash centre. We have plenty of them. We could play Banahan and Tompkins, both big lads, but have subtle little offloads… But that’s not what England need. They need a ball player to counter the sheer physicality that is Manu.

  4. If he wants to see more he can borrow my tape of Saturdays match; it is nearly worn out mind…

  5. We couldn’t play like Wales because we simply don’t have the lumps they do in their backline. And unfortunately for England when those monsters are singing from the same hymn sheet it works for them very well.

    1. Exactly. I might get a bit of stick for this, but I believe that Wales probably have the most One-dimensional back line in the NH. Whenever Roberts, Davies, North or Cuthbert gets the ball, you know exactly what they are going to do – smash into the nearest defender/a hole near a defender and try to break the gainline. Add to the fact that Phillips and Halfpenny both sometimes do that too and they are One-dimensional.

      Of course, I’m not saying that they are a bad team – they are the best in the NH by some distance at the moment. They may be one-dimensional but they are extremely good at the one dimension that they play. Knowing what they are going to do and defending against it are two completely different things…

      I don’t like England getting too slated just for being One-dimensional. Nothing wrong with being one-dimensional – if the side is good enough at that dimension. With England, they aren’t. The problem is not what they do, more how they do it- they just need to improve at what they do.

  6. England’s next 2 summers are 2 tests v Argentina and 3 v N Zealand.How many are we likely to wim?My money says zero.We just don’t have a strong enough pack or penetration outside whoever is selected

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