Cockerill tells England to play their own game

Date published: November 4 2015

England have to play their own game and not try to copy New Zealand according to Leicester coach Richard Cockerill.

As England try to work out what went wrong during the World Cup, in which they were bundled out in the pool stages, there have been calls for them to use the example of the World Champion All Blacks.

However Cockerill believes the different attitude towards rugby in the two countries means that England will never be able to play the same style of rugby as the All Blacks, and should instead focus on their strengths in order to close the gap to the world's best.

"I think you have to play how England play, and play to our strengths," said Cockerill.

"I don't want to play like New Zealand because we can't.

"I've got two Kiwi coaches that work with me, they asked me about that and I said: 'New Zealanders are born and given a rugby ball, Englanders are born and given a football'.

"We start to learn rugby, it's not our first love, that's just the nature of it. Our soccer team's better than theirs, hopefully.

"In the northern hemisphere and England, we have a very attritional mindset, we are bloody-minded about what we do.

"And personally I think we spend too much time coveting the promised land of how others do things. We can compete and we've shown it, and we can play differently from southern hemisphere sides and beat them.

"Clive Woodward's team went away from home in 2003, beat Australia and New Zealand then won the World Cup, they didn't play a fancy, all-court game – they did what English teams do really well and played to their strengths.

"And I think England can and should do that. The first Test in New Zealand last summer England took a mixed team and just got stuck into the All Blacks, and made them look ordinary. England probably should have won that game.

"How did they do it? With set-piece, (they) went hard at the breakdown and made New Zealand struggle for every bit of possession. The two weeks after that we decided to play them at their own game and got beaten.

"England should just do what they do really well, we've got some very good players and I don't see why we always try to chase the holy grail of being like another side.

"It doesn't make sense to me."