The Curious Case of Danny Cipriani

Danny Cipriani: this one has perplexed us for some time. We lauded his arrival and the dethroning of St Jonny back in 2008, when he broke into the England team, played astonishingly well against Ireland and seemed to be the answer to England’s prayers.

Danny Cipriani

Just as his international career was about to take off, however, Cipriani suffered an horrific ankle injury which kept him out of action for the end of Wasps’ season, and he missed England’s summer tour. It looked as though he would only return in time for the 2009 Six Nations, but the Wasps medics miraculously had him fit ahead of schedule and he returned to England’s starting line up for the first three Autumn Internationals in 2008.

We now know that his return was somewhat premature, and after his disappointing performances in the white shirt led to his demotion for the fourth Test of that series, Cipriani has been in the international wilderness ever since.

We have speculated on what he has done wrong. Since showing promise for Wasps and for England Saxons – albeit erratically – Cipriani has been overlooked by Martin Johnson for England’s Number 10 shirt, with the England manager favouring the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, Toby Flood, Shane Geraghty and even Andy Goode.

But he has so much potential and with England woefully short of attacking flair, there must be another reason for his omission. Is it his attitude that displeases Johnno? Is he really that unpopular in the England ranks? Is it purely a lack of form?

Cipriani has hit the headlines again recently, and it now looks as though he’ll be leaving Wasps for sunnier shores at the end of this season. The new Super 15 franchise, Melbourne Rebels, are reportedly preparing an offer, and he is apparently ready to accept it.

Is this the right thing for him to do? Johnno has said he won’t consider him if he’s that far away, but would he consider him anyway? This move would probably rule him out of the Rugby World Cup in 2011, but perhaps the long-term benefits would outweigh this?

Is it possible that Cipriani will return to England in two or three years time with some valuable experience of Super Rugby, aged only 25 or 26, and finally ready to nail down the England jersey? Or is he a lost cause looking for a lucrative deal and a tan?

13 thoughts on “The Curious Case of Danny Cipriani

  1. A friend and I were discussing the same thing yesterday. The answer…we just don’t know. It seems likely that he wants to get his career back on track, and most people agree that there is no successful future for him at Wasps.

    We ignored Melbourne and stuck to clubs in the British Isles. I proposed Northampton, where he could play next to Shane Gegeraty (cementing his move to 12) and would have Dylan Hartley (who I greatly admire) as club captain.

    My friend, who is Welsh, suggested Cardiff Blues instead. Great idea but it all depends on what happens with James Hook who says he wants to play 10 but Wales need him at centre.

  2. If you are looking at suitable UK clubs, London Irish could be an option. They want to play Cipriani’s sort of game, but are struggling a little with Lamb and Malone who are both erratic – why not bring in another erratic fly half!

    I don’t think he’ll join a UK club though, and actually, the further afield the better probably. Get himself out of the UK media for a couple of years, make some headlines for the right reasons in the Super 14, and then come back better.

    A move to France might be an option, but I think the Rebels might be good for him.

  3. I think this piece by Will Carling is very interesting. Now I know Mr Carling is a bit of a master of self promotion but this seems a genuine piece. However, it leaves the exact reason for what is going on at the moment tantalisingly out of reach. I do think that the Johnno situation is simple. If Cippers puts in a decent run of games, he’ll be back in the squad.

  4. I disagree about Johnno. He really does seem adamant not to pick him. He hasn’t been playing well enough recently, but last year he should have at least been in the squad when Andy Goode was recalled from the wilderness instead.

    Speaking of Goode, he’s been signed by the Sharks! Goode v Cips in Super 15 next year?!

  5. A ridiculous signing indeed. He looks average in England’s slow, laborious, kicking-oriented game. He’s going to be horrifically exposed by the pace of the S14.

  6. He’s gone!! End of season, he’s off. Two, three, even four years honing other skills and a return to British shores age 25-26? A recipe for potential success that might otherwise be unforthcoming in my view. Good on ya Cips.

  7. Danny Cipriani has made a great decision. Why should a player stay in the UK and let his career dwindle, just to keep alight a faint hope of being picked for England again. When clearly the boring and inexperienced coach at the helm is not interested in personally nurturing your talent.

    In the Super 14 he’ll be tested against the best with less British media to offer the pessimistic analysis and attention that he does not need. Haskell was seemingly right to go to France when Johnson also hinted that he would not get picked for England if he did. Cipriani’s move serves martin Johnson right. To treat a player the way he did, I hope Cipriani goes there and turns into a phenomenal player. It’ll be great to see Johnson squirm.

  8. The quality of backplay in Super 14 far exceeds Heineken Cup and if Cipriani succeeds he will be a far better player in 2 years time than he would be by staying here…….and he may then be an attacking fly half……. which England havent had since Stuart Barnes played

  9. I think it is a good move for him,he will improve.

    Will he come back, I don’t know if he gets the success we are all hoping for he might decide to stay with it instead of risking it coming back. Either way, if the decision is good for him or not, it shows the failure of the system here to accomidate talent.

    The thing has been a disaster from the first minute, it shows the inbeded attitude that stars don’t play rugby, that is for football, they do. Johnos lack of managerial skill, McGeechen would not and did not make this kind of mistake with a talent.

    It also shows our inherit belief in England that if a player is creativ enad talented he must have a bad attitude and not train so hard. What a load of crap, your skills don’t get that good without hard work on the training field.

  10. Goode returns to Worcester next season so DC won’t play against him. He can’t qualify for Aus as he already has been capped by england. Finally the Blues have signed Dan Parks for next season, so he couldn’t go there.

    Why did he move? Forward stodgy play in the Guinness Premiership against flowing rugby in Superrugby. No contest.

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