Why England Rugby is still in denial

Warren Gatland

England Rugby is still recovering from its World Cup performances and the sacking of head coach Stuart Lancaster. Media conversations illustrate the point

The agonies of England’ s Rugby Union defeats in the World Cup may not have been lessened by the splendid victory of its Rugby League team yesterday in its International Series against New Zealand.

An obligatory scapegoat

In the Union code, a darker mood prevails. An obligatory scapegoat for its lack of success has been found in the dignified form of chief coach Stuart Lancaster. Wales coach Warren Gatland [image] is touted as his successor.

The pundits speak

Former England players turned pundits have stepped forward to explain to the unenlightened what has happened. The BBC has been running discussion/therapy sessions during the week. These illustrate my suspicions that denial is deeply rooted.

The terrier-like Matt Dawson, tail aquiver,  expressed the view that the entire RFU management was in need of overhauling,  but for a start the new coach would have to be the best. The RFU should get out its check book to do it. Other nations say we are arrogant, so let’s be arrogant he asserted. We can afford the best. Who wouldn’t want the England job?

Who wouldn’t want to coach England?

The view about the plumness of the job was echoed by most other media commentators who began the shopping list with the names of top Southern Hemisphere coaches in current or recent charge of more successful international teams. Who wouldn’t want to coach England?

Let’s buy Warren Gatland

To a friendly migrant (yes I slipped across the Welsh border in the 1960s by Coracle, the preferred mode of illegal entry), I was not convinced that every top coach in the world would want the job, however much money was on offer.  The case I was most familiar with was that of the New Zealand born Warren Gatland [Image above] who had done such great things to the Wales national team and made some improvements to the barnyard politics of the WRU ( the Welsh Rugby Union).

Gatland’s name has been widely touted, although in Wales the belief is that for him to accept would be as likely as Kenny Dalgleish taking on the Manchester United job if the price were right and the hereditary Earldom of Yorkshire thrown in as well.

Wales just squeaked through against England in the World Cup, and arguably Lancaster’s fate was already sealed.

Getting the Moody right

This morning [15 November 2015] the debate continued with Garry Richardson on BBC Radio Five Live interviewing former English international Lewis Moody. Why wouldn’t someone like Gatland come, Garry asked, possibly disingenuously. Moody is more thoroughbred greyhound than mongrel terrier.

Gatland has said he is not interested, Moody replied  cautiously.

Gary pressed on undeterred. Well, they might that, but it would be a different thing if he was asked, with the money on the table , wouldn’t it.

It might indeed Gary. And England might become the heirs to the all-conquering New Zealand players of today. Or there again, they might not. That’s probably the view of a disillusioned Sam Burgess, who had some interesting things to say on his return to Rugby League, shortly after playing for England in the World Cup.

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