England’s tour to New Zealand wasn’t a success, but it was by no means a failure. To run the world champions in their own back yard close was worth admiration, however the loss wasn’t all the players fault.
England’s national rugby team has been constrained in terms of success and development for the past few years, and needs a quick fix for the upcoming world cup. The three current issues that are holding back England are all interlinked; a ridiculous injury toll, a season bursting into International windows and an attritional league. The RFU, and the Aviva Premiership have sucked success out of the national team recently, and a critical review is needed.
The club fixtures need to follow the ‘Super 15’ model; less games, more byes and a higher standard. Currently there are 6 LV=CUP weekends that are filling up the season, and need to be scraped. The Anglo-Welsh Cup is hardly the greatest competition, minimal media coverage and poor attendances is shouting for the cup to be forgotten. The Ospreys, ex-Pro12 winners and ex-Heineken cup quarter-finalists, could only scrape 3,189 for one of their games. There is no interest in this cup, only the final brought significant public interest, with Exeter claiming their first major trophy in their 143-year history. Finishing it would allow teams to have 6 weeks of much needed rest. The rest weeks could be deposited before European Knock-out games, before the Premiership Final and before big Internationals. Yes it allows the youth to develop but surely the Aviva Premiership A league should be the development tool. For the Bath A v Sale A game, an attendance of 6,000 watched the game, there is potential.
Moreover, the International game should never be overtaken by the club game, like what’s happened to Football. Yet, the signs are there that the club game is catching up. George Ford opting out of the New Zealand tour due to an injury, yet still playing for Bath that weekend. Also, Saracens and Northampton players taking part in the premiership Final, yet they can’t play for England the next weekend.
The Barclays Premier league has sucked out what ever credibility the National football team had to the point that they lost their opening 2 games of the World Cup for the first time.
Harry Redknapp, the QPR boss said “When full internationals came around, two or three players didn’t want to go and play for England”. “They’d come to me 10 days before the game and say: ‘get me out of the game. I don’t want to play in it.'” Disgusting words from our football counterparts, however this point shouldn’t be reached with the passionate sport of rugby.
BT Sport have done wonders for English rugby, they’ve sparked a new freshness into the premiership. Yet as the premiership grows something else must shrink. Don’t get me wrong, the international game wouldn’t survive without the domestic games. However the club game is a feeder for better things, it supplies players to the showcase, which is internationals.
Injuries are another persistent problem that has only recently in the past few years taken off. England’s injuries went from bad to worse this year. Tom Croft, Manu Tuilagi, Christian Wade, Marland Yarde, Dan Cole, Alex Corbisero , Ben Foden, Joel Tomkins, Brad Barritt, Danny Care, David Wilson, Geoff Parling, George Ford, Jack Nowell, Rob Webber and Mako Vunipola. They’ve all had injuries that have ruled themselves out of England games, the majority coming from club games. Some of them could’ve been saved.
Marland Yarde, released from England duty due to a hip injury, was selected to play against Leicester the same weekend. He then ruptured a tendon in his hip. He shouldn’t of played, yet there was no management or player welfare committee that stepped in.
The same has been happening in the French Top 14, and know look at their international team. Over-exaggeration? Maybe, but you can’t ignore what’s happening…