Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

04th November 2013 11:47

Share:

Mark Regan Josh Lewsey Mike Tindall

The ghosts of a World Cup past still haunt England

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the weekend's action, the ghosts of England past, old-fashioned Frenchies and a remarkable front row try...

The takeaways from the weekend's internationals:

1) Australia's problems up front will take years to sort out. Every series the Wallabies go away determined to work on their set pieces. We presume that every interim they do. Every time they return to the international scene they get obliterated or penalised to oblivion. Often both. It used to be an acute problem, but it appears now to be chronic.

2) It's a malaise that is spreading too. Will Genia has no confidence, meaning Quade Cooper gets no time and space, meaning Australia kick away so much possession that they look... well, to be honest, they look a little English. Without the physicality. Australia might have to wait a generation for the next world-class team.

3) England need to do more. There is an old saying that attack wins you games, defence wins you championships. In which case England are well on course for the World Cup. But while that saying rang true for a good long time in the professional era, the clashes between South Africa and New Zealand, with a dollop of Wales thrown in for taste, have since proven that actually, you need both for championships. Beating a poor Australia side by dint of a charge-down and an extremely fortuitous interpretation of obstruction by the referee is not World Cup-winning form. If England could just fashion a couple of clean tries from their own possession they'd be so much more convincing.

4) While on the subject of officiating: since when has "not enough" obstruction ever been a reason for non-obstruction? While Stephen Moore was negotiating Dylan Hartley, Owen Farrell had moved forward two metres, meaning Moore had to make a retreating side-on tackle rather than a head-on one. That is enough obstruction: a material effect on the action. Marshall Kilgore is unlikely to be holidaying in Aussie any day soon.

5) New Zealand are warmed up nicely. Not that it was their best display in Japan, but is there a better finisher in the world than Ben Smith right now? A better commander of a game than Dan Carter? And detractors please note: there were only four AB mainstays in that starting team. Can't really see anybody beating them this November...


Back to England, one other thing is clear: it really is time to move on from 2003. Not only emotionally - it's still clung to as a crumb of comfort when the current lot are kicking too much and being turned over annually by the Welsh - but also administratively.

Pretty much everyone in England rugby is now aware that 2003 was a glaring missed opportunity to build on success. Playing numbers are down 60,000 on 2005, the post-World Cup peak. The national team and club sides are woefully behind in terms of skilled players. Remarkably few of that team have gone on to continue in leading positions in England rugby - but then why would they? After all, the RFU has rarely been found sensibly planning how to utilise its best assets and standing by a consistent structural and financial model. Nor have England's clubs, forever with interests running almost diametrically opposed to the England team, ever been that able to do their bit for the national good.

Those things are better now, while in Stuart Lancaster and one or two others there appear to be a sticking of the 'emotional glue' as Lancaster puts it, bringing back the spirit and identity in England rugby. As Lawrence Dallaglio exclaimed in the Guardian: "...it's terrible that you have to start your reign as England coach by reminding people what it actually means to play for England. That's not something you can ever imagine happening in New Zealand."

Nor, on evidence, is it something the current lot now needs reminding of - the possible exceptions of Manu Tuilagi and Chris Ashton aside. The RFU is still the world's wealthiest union, with the highest number of playing adults, in the world. The more it can move on from 2003, forget about everything except what went wrong after, the better it will be for English rugby.


There's a story - well a glut of them actually, but this one sticks out more than most - about a referee in France. This particular referee, one Georges Coulom of Limoges, was so scared about the consequences of his giving decisions against home teams that he had a guard dog named Gamine stationed on the sideline to answer his distress call should the home side resort to non-verbal means of referee management.

There is also the story of Lezignan coach Jean Sebedio in the late 1920s, who used to leave a skeleton smoking a cigar in the referee's room for home matches, explaining to the poor official who turned up for duty that 'it was the last referee who ever gave a penalty against us here.'

There's also the story of the referee who officiated Agen's first home defeat in three years in the 1980s, who was hounded out of the ground and chased all the way to the town limits.

Why this bout of story-telling? Well, there is still a tradition of away teams losing in France, and there is still a tradition of home fans doing pretty much anything possible to intimidate the visitors. Just ask Perpignan, whose bus was pelted with stones as they made their way through the outer limits of Oyonnax ahead of their Top 14 clash on Saturday.

Needless to say, the home side won.


We all love a fat boy try don't we? Gethin Jenkins at the last World Cup, a couple of Matt Dunning pie-shop specials, the cult status of Sona Taumalolo and who could forget that try from Richard Bands?

Joining those ranks was veteran England hooker Steve Thompson last Thursday, in a charity match against the Aussie legends as a part of the ongoing celebrations of the 10th anniversary of 2003 - a match England won 17-12.

Enjoy!

Loose Pass compiled by Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , April 19
Exeter vs SaleExeter vs Sale Preview
Bath vs WorcesterBath vs Worcester Preview
Wasps vs GloucesterWasps vs Gloucester Preview
Sunday , April 20
Northampton vs London IrishNorthampton vs London Irish Preview
Newcastle vs SaracensNewcastle vs Saracens Preview
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
RaboDirect PRO12
Saturday , April 19
Zebre vs EdinburghZebre vs Edinburgh Preview
Connacht vs MunsterConnacht vs Munster Preview
Sunday , April 20
Cardiff Blues vs ScarletsCardiff Blues vs Scarlets Preview
Newport Gwent D'gons vs OspreysNewport Gwent D
More RaboDirect PRO12 fixtures
Amlin Challenge Cup
Friday , April 25
Northampton vs Harlequins20:00
More Amlin Challenge Cup fixtures
Top 14
Friday , April 18
Castres vs MontpellierCastres vs Montpellier Preview
Saturday , April 19
Oyonnax vs Toulouse14:55
Perpignan vs Toulon17:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:30
Biarritz vs Brive18:30
Racing Metro Paris vs Clermont AuvergneRacing Metro Paris vs Clermont Auvergne Preview
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles20:35
More Top 14 fixtures
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Waratahs vs BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Preview
Sharks vs CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Preview
Stormers vs LionsStormers vs Lions Preview
Friday , April 25
Blues vs Waratahs17:35
Brumbies vs Chiefs17:40
Sharks vs Highlanders19:10
More Super Rugby fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 18
Harlequins 24 - 20 LeicesterHarlequins vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster 62 - 7 Benetton TrevisoLeinster vs Benetton Treviso Report
Glasgow 27 - 9 UlsterGlasgow vs Ulster Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Super Rugby
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , April 13
Saracens 28 - 24 NorthamptonSaracens vs Northampton Report
London Irish 40 - 12 NewcastleLondon Irish vs Newcastle Report
Saturday , April 12
Worcester 33 - 38 ExeterWorcester vs Exeter Report
Leicester 27 - 15 WaspsLeicester vs Wasps Report
Gloucester 17 - 18 BathGloucester vs Bath Report
More Aviva Premiership results
RaboDirect PRO12
Benetton Treviso 45 - 27 Newport Gwent D'gonsBenetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D
Munster 5 - 22 GlasgowMunster vs Glasgow Report
Scarlets 27 - 20 ZebreScarlets vs Zebre Report
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 20 - 22 ToulonBordeaux-Begles vs Toulon Report
Grenoble 30 - 36 Montpellier
Perpignan 22 - 12 Oyonnax
Toulouse 16 - 9 BriveToulouse vs Brive Report
Racing Metro Paris 37 - 7 Biarritz
Bayonne 24 - 19 Stade Francais
More Top 14 results
Super Rugby
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Lions 12 - 25 SharksLions vs Sharks Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
More Super Rugby results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , April 11
Sale Sharks 12 - 27 HarlequinsSale Sharks vs Harlequins Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens1976
2Northampton1966
3Leicester Tigers2064
4Bath1959
5Harlequins2058