There is seemingly always one England sporting team in crisis and at the moment it is the Rugby Union mob that are getting all the flack. Though despite what I’m about to write – it isn’t a crisis in my opinion, well not just yet anyways. After being outclassed by the All Blacks after some early promise (same old story then) the previous Saturday, Stuart Lancaster’s England bottled it again in a big match. South Africa were there for the taking after Ireland mashed them a week earlier in Dublin, but a poor, actually CLUELESS game plan (trying to play running rugby in constant drizzle at the start of the game) gifted the springboks basically 10 free points. To their credit they fought back from 6-20 down to level the game 20-20 very early in the second half, when the visitors were down to 14 men, but instead of keeping their foot on the oppositions neck they let it slip YET AGAIN. They actually then allowed the South Africans to regain the lead within minutes, whilst down to the 14 men with a try from a rolling maul – this when the player in the sin bin was a forward – ridiculous really.
The one crumb of comfort is that somehow England managed to stay in the game until the last couple of minutes. Changes are needed – and Lancaster is fully aware of this and has stated that he needs to find out who of his players are up for the job. If these changes of personnel mean improved performances in their next game versus Samoa, they should keep their place in future matches in my opinion – no one should have a god given right to be in team – ask Chris Asthton – he beginning to learn. In one of my previous blogs – http://www.biggishmouthblog.com/rugby-f1-cricket – I mentioned how the Cumbrian’s England side have always struggled in matches they needed to win – ie NOT WINNING THEM!!!!!!! I also commented that they needed to prevail in three of these four Autumn Internationals to show the other nations they are ready and more than capable of winning the World Cup – they have already failed in that respect!!!!!!! You need to win a minimum six matches to lift the William Webb Ellis Trophy, but England have lost their last five tests (admittedly four of those have been against New Zealand – but opportunities to win in some of those games were missed). Samoa are up this Saturday followed by Australia on the 29th November – the rot HAS to be stopped on consecutive Saturdays or questions will be asked about that four year contract extension that Mr Lancaster has been given already. If two wins are followed by a Grand Slam in the upcoming Six Nations, then that will be seven wins in a row less than a year before the Rugby Bonanza in 2015 that would be a great fillip and must be the target for the Red Rose now.
Whilst the problems mount with the oval ball – the goings on at a national level with the spherical variety are looking up, just a few months after a disappointing World Cup. Six games, six victories, yes the opposition has not been of the highest quality at times but you can only beat what has been put in front of you. The promising thing from my point of view was that on Saturday against a Slovenian team who had zero intention of trying to attack, (apart from set piece opportunities, which sods law dictated they would score their goal by – even that was an own goal), England responded with a swift equalizer (from the spot on his 100th cap by Captain Rooney) and then powered on to win 3-1 thanks to further goals by Danny Welbeck. Then they dominated Scotland in a heated atmosphere and were more than worth their victory over the auld enemy. Four matches in their qualifying group have been negotiated efficiently with four victories, top of the group and a 100% record. Yes we aren’t world beaters, but there has been improvement and the players are clearly giving their all for manager Roy Hodgson. As we stand you cannot ask for more than that at this stage. Lithuania up next in March, our Roy can now have a relaxing Christmas and New Year after a summer of turmoil and lets be honest abuse from some people, he deserves a break at the moment – credit where credits due – good job.
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