“I’d like to see more enjoyment with ball in hand. We had too many players in the ruck and that produced slow ball.”
“We have to look at how we want to play. I thought we lacked a bit of ambition.”
If William Hill were taking bets on the man who made these post-match remarks, one name unlikely to feature on many slips is Andy Robinson.
The 45-year-old former flanker is arguably best remembered for his demise as England head coach. I am probably not the only one that still pictures him wearing a familiar frown after yet another uninspiring England performance.
In fact the pressure got so great that the hammering he took from the press during his ill-fated reign finally forced him to resign in November 2006.
But Robinson never questioned his own ability and his determination has seen him begin his international rehabilitation by taking charge of Scotland.
Although he looks back at his time with England with fondness he clearly still harbours regrets.
“I had six great years working with great coaches and great players. I don’t really want to dwell on what’s been and gone.”
Dwell he may not but no one would begrudge him a little moment to rue his bad luck. For a start he didn’t have Jonny Wilkinson at his disposal for any of the 22 games he oversaw.
However, bad luck aside Robinson clearly made mistakes. His selection policy was consistently inconsistent. He stood by players when they needed dropping and he failed players when they needed to be stood by – remember his treatment of Matthew Tait?
In fairness that is in the past and it’s not Andy Robinson’s fault the current management of Martin Johnson and co is strangling England in the same manor.
As well as both playing for and coaching their country, Robinson and Johnson also share a rugby philosophy that is perhaps the root of all England’s problems.
“Rugby is about winning, that’s what counts. That’s the big lesson I learned, this game is about winning. The way that we play, the style, the performance, doesn’t matter. You’ve got to win the game,” says Robinson.
On the surface, that statement is fairly self-explanatory. People play the game to win – hardly rocket science. But when a rocket is out of fuel, has wings falling off and doesn’t know where it’s going, that simple statement carries no meaning.
The next world cup is closing in on Johnson fast but he still has time to build the right ship. Rugby is about winning but only when the right formula is in place and scraping past a poor Argentina side, clearly demonstrates Johnson is some way off finding his.
Robinson is relishing his second coming as an international coach. His winning philosophy remains and time will tell if he can deliver what he preaches.
Johnson may have swapped Robinson’s frown for a steely glare – just ask Sky’s Graham Simmons, but his current failings as a coach show a similar resemblance.
But he is a winner and winners don’t shy away from challenges. England to win the next World Cup? – I’ll hang on to my betting slip for now.
By Tom Walker