England look for new blood to provide results
A new management team, a new starting XI, a new England? For too long have we been harking back to the glory days of 2003 and praying that those days will be reincarnated and that we will once again sit on our proud pedestal at the heighest heights of rugby. It’s time to look forward, to look past the disappointments and the heartaches and to dream of better things to come. Tomorrow, we will witness the beginning of Stuart Lancaster’s reign, as England face Scotland in their first clash of this year’s Six Nations tournament.
Lancaster has been bold in his team selection and although it largely lacks international experience, he has picked a group of players who are already playing together at club level. The backs include Owen Farrell (centre), Brad Barritt (centre), Charlie Hodgson (fly half) and Dave Strettle (wing) who all play for Saracens and when you add to that list Chris Ashton, who will be moving to Saracens in the summer, you can clearly see what Lancaster is trying to create. It reminds me of the Spanish football side, made up largely of Barcelona players. International coaches get limited time with players, making moulding a set of talented rugby players into a team difficult. Simply look at the England football team. Certainly it is made up of talented players, with the likes of Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard and John Terry, to name but a few. However, it has failed to shape into a talented team and I feel this is mainly because the players do not play together regularly and therefore do not fully understand each other’s games. To form a group of backs made up majoratively of players from one team then, is a positive selection and one that I feel will strongly benefit the team in the long run.
The decision to make Chris Robshaw captain is one that has thrown up some debate since it was announced, with many people expecting a player with more international pedigree to get the nod. In my view, though, the England management have got their decision spot on. Robshaw has been sensational for Harlequins this season, leading them to the top of the table and showing all the qualities a captain needs to possess. I am certain that Robshaw will lead England admirably and will emphasise all of the qualities that this new-look team will hope to express.
England seem to be fully prepared for the start of this tournament and look raring to go, looking to begin a long road to reclaiming the throne they established in 2003. Is it possible that Lancaster and Robshaw can provide the magical formula which Johnson and Moody failed to find? Here’s hoping…
We must remember, though, that if all does not go to plan we cannot immediately berate the team and the team selection. Lancaster will need time to put his stamp on the team and this is only the beginning of what will hopefully be a long and fruitful term as England coach.