News   |    February 7th, 2022

RUGBY FAILINGS

One of the great sporting events I look forward to every year is watching the England Rugby Union team at Twickenham in the Six Nations Tournament.

I particularly enjoy the fact that unlike with football, fans of both teams can mix and enjoy good-humoured banter with one another. You can feel the hairs stand up on the back of your neck when Sweet Chariot echoes around the stadium.

In terms of resources and players to choose from England should at the very least be the leading player on the domestic scene if not the world scene. So, to see them outplayed and out thought by Scotland in the first match of the six nations tournament was hard to take. 

Eddie Jones had been saying in recent weeks that he was reluctant to start Marcus Smith because of his lack of international experience given he is only 22 but after his Murrayfield performance, there is no question that Smith is the man for England at number 10. He was looking very comfortable when he was taken off with 20 minutes to go in the game and his departure contributed to England losing the match.

Despite the 20-17 defeat, there were some positive elements to England’s play but the constant kicking behind Scotland proved to be the wrong tactic and Eddie Jones must take responsibility for that as he establishes the game plan. At 17-17, England still should have been in control of the game, but they went chasing it and that provided Scotland with the momentum they needed. England had been in a really good position at 17-10 but the inexperience in the team showed and they lost their composure which you can’t afford to do at this level of the game.

The reality is that England chances of winning the six nations have probably gone already. England go to Italy next and will win that game but the matches against Wales, Ireland and France will be much more difficult and more so as the media pressure grows.

The one thing you want to see in any sport is progress with the international team, but I struggle to see that in the England rugby team in recent times, and I think that come the end of the current six nations tournament you will see a new coach installed. It is very much the same situation we have witnessed with the England Cricket Team where changes have started to be made following the thrashing in Australia in the latest Ashes series. The England football team has often been the great under performers since 1966 but at least with them you can see progress being made and they are justifiably one of the favourites for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Whatever the sport I want England to do well, and it is frustrating to see our international teams struggle when with the resources at our disposal we should be doing so much better.

Photograph: Tim Williams/Action Plus/Shutterstock

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management.

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