Criticism fall on England

Criticism fall on England
By Reuters

13/03/2006 at 14:46Updated

England's rugby players and coaches woke up to a torrent of criticism in Monday's newspapers and for once nobody was hiding from the truth. Woeful, inept, humiliating, awful and fumbling were just a few of the headline descriptions of the world champions' display in Sunday's 31-6 loss by France.

"That performance was unacceptable," captain Martin Corry wrote in his Guardian column.

"It is just not good enough to make so many mistakes, we have got to get better and bloody quickly, starting with Ireland at Twickenham (on Saturday).

"Let's face it, we do not look much like 2007 World Cup contenders."

Centre Jamie Noon, who along with Corry was the only player prepared to face the media in Paris, said: "We were rubbish and made far too many mistakes. This is like a smack in the face."

Robinson had no defence, describing the "awful" display as the worst experience of his coaching career and listing a litany of errors that contributed to the team's downfall.

Those comments were mild, however, compared to the judgement of former players.

"We cannot tolerate this sort of cluelessness," said former hooker Brian Moore in the Daily Telegraph, whose exasperation had palpably grown by the minute while he was acting as analyst during the BBC's match coverage.


"The backroom staff, from defence coach to backs' coach need to be on final warnings," he wrote.

"It is no disgrace to lose to the French but it is deeply disappointing to do so in this way - hammered and without a fight."

Former flyhalf Rob Andrew described Sunday's events as "an accident waiting to happen."

"It should force the coaching staff to acknowledge that their (England's) limited playing style has reached a dead end," he wrote in the Daily Mail.

"With the World Cup looming next year a major overhaul is needed immediately or there is no chance of winning it again. In a way this heavy defeat was needed to expose the problems for all to see and provoke some drastic action.

"Even major surgery now will be cutting it fine for the World Cup, but it must be done."

However, there was by no means universal agreement on what those changes should be.

Most newspapers demanded Robinson show a more positive approach but few called for him to stand down.

With so many players performing badly there were generalised demands for change but only a handful of names put forward.

Robinson appears to have dug himself a hole by not giving his fringe players the chance to establish themselves in this championship, leaving his squad looking very thin in comparison with his major World Cup rivals.

His refusal to select James Simpson-Daniel, despite regularly praising him as one of the country's most gifted backs, and the release of high-speed winger Tom Varndell to the Commonwealth Games sevens squad look even more baffling in the light of his current backline's lack of spark.

Robinson names his team for Saturday's game against Ireland on Tuesday. Some personnel shuffles are certain but, with the fear of a nail-in-the-coffin defeat hovering above him, the ever-conservative coach is unlikely to produce too many surprises.