Some of the bile and stupidity spouted by some England ‘fans’ in the past week has been nothing short of embarrassing for those who truly care about the game.
Yes, the side’s early exit from home World Cup is a huge disappointment for everyone who supported the side, but it is no excuse for calling on coaches and players being fired almost at will. Equally there is still almost four weeks of world class rugby to be played, so let’s enjoy it whilst we can.
There’s no doubting that something has to change, but this should be done in a sensible and structured manner, rather than simply calling for the heads of everyone involved. At the end of the day, everyone involved in the current England set up is human. They all have bills to pay and families to feed.
Without being involved in the training camps and selection meetings, I have absolutely no doubt that every single person involved did what they thought was best for the side. The players have gone through hell to get themselves in the best shapes of their lives whilst the coaching staff have gone to extreme lengths in order to prepare their side.
This reached boiling point for me earlier when I saw one supposedly respected national newspaper calling for Sam Burgess to return to rugby league. There’s no doubting that with hindsight, his inclusion in the 2015 World Cup squad was a mistake, but does it really mean he should now give up on his union career?
He didn’t choose to be thrust in like this, and like the rest of the team, he clearly put everything he had into trying to make the World Cup a success. There’s also no doubting that with time he has the potential to become a key figure in the current England side, and could become vital by the time the 2019 World Cup comes around.
Equally, the likes of Chris Robshaw, Owen Farrell and Brad Barritt have come in for plenty of undue criticism. The reality is that whilst they came up short in a major tournament against superior opposition, they put their bodies on the line for English rugby, and would do so again without hesitation.
Every single one of them has put their heart and soul into this campaign and unfortunately come up short. Whilst this is obviously a huge cock up that needs rectifying, it doesn’t necessitate a total overhaul of the whole set up. Instead, there needs to be a comprehensive review of proceedings with changes made off the back of the findings.
This may require certain players stepping down, or coaches moving aside, but this shouldn’t be the first port of call. One of the biggest issues in English rugby over the last ten years has been the necessity to dispense with entire coaching teams when things haven’t quite gone to plan, instead of allowing them to learn from their mistakes and come back stronger.
The one time in recent memory when England did stick by their coach (Clive Woodward in 1999) things ended up going pretty well four years later. Whatever the review brings about, the changes should be implemented swiftly so the coaching team has a full four years to prepare for the 2019 World Cup.
I suggest for now, England fans sit back and enjoy the rest of the World Cup action as it’s not very often you have so many world class teams playing on your doorstep. The inquest can then begin, and the appropriate changes made to the current England set up to provide them with the best possible platform for a successful 2016 Six Nations to try and rebuild some goodwill with lapsed fans.