Just watched the England-France game! England! Who would have thought it after SA, Tonga and Samoa!
Yet, months ago in this blog I warned the world that if Johnny got back in the team and in form, England would be a force! They are, they were! I hadn't realised how well Johnny was playing, brilliant. He is back, the number one first five in the world. King Johnny gave Graham, Dan C and the others a lesson in first five play today. A legend. England are timing their peak brilliantly. They are doing what must be done in a tournament, peaking at the conclusion! Well done England...
We saw starkly the problem with the AB's last week. The Poms play week in week out, huge demands on them from their clubs. They come together for their national team, usually under prepared because of club demands. Yet, when the trench warfare of international rugby at the top level begins, they are are tough! They are resilient. They have had no rotation or reconditioning, but they know how to win. They were prepared to drop goals, they know how to play this type of rugby.
I am now even more upset over last week. We have the most naturally talented and brilliant players, but they were robbed by dumb coaching! I see it now, I should have seen it earlier. I was never sure that you can prepare for rugby in the gym and training. I certainly couldn't do it when I played Auckland senior rugby in the 80's. I needed game time. I told myself, that these coaches knew better, the modern training methodologies had changed things. I see now it hasn't changed! I should have shouted from the roof, but I too was sucked in, even if I wasn't a hundred percent sure.
Like all sports, you prepare for rugby by playing. You get fit as hell, get the skills as honed as possible, then you play and get better. You don't do it training!
So for the next four years, play it all AB's. Forget the world cup until we are 6 weeks out. Play the A team in every test, ; make the AB jersey worth something; build a team of tough men who are uncompromising and can handle the pressure, who have combinations, who have been through hell fighting for their places. If they can't handle the pressure, drop them. If they want holidays on the beach, more money, moan about the workload, drop them, they are not the type of men who will win the trench warfare of world cup play-offs. They can go and dig a ditch or do a 40+ hour job like the rest of us. It is time to get hard! A few old values... so...
Dear Graham, Steve and Wayne,
Do the decent thing. Resign! You screwed up a great team. You had more depth than any other nation but decided that you needed to rotate players to increase our depth superiority, a waste of time and talent. In-so-doing you screwed them up; as the other players of the world were playing and improving their game, we sat back and thought we were there.
Just when the rest of the world was on the rack, terrified of the best AB team for 10 years, you screwed them up by wrapping them in cotton wool, training them in the gym and on the training field and not letting them play. You clearly messed with their minds. They didn't develop their top two inches, their leadership, and couldn't hack the pressure.
What better way to get hard than trying to beat down the rising South African threat in the Super 14; instead they were in the gym! Then play the A team in every test, building combinations, winning the Trinations (as you did).
Then taking on the NPC. Then they should have been pulled out with a couple of warm up games in Europe against England and France! South Africa played warm up games. So, you screwed up, admit it, humble yourselves and admit it!
Do the decent thing! I love you all. You are great coaches and have done some great things, but you got this wrong. Do the right thing, apologise to the players, to the nation and fall on your swords. Graham, you have had more than enough goes with Wales, the Lions and the AB's. Wayne, you have had a couple of goes. Steve, I know it is tough, but you are now tainted. You too bought into the rotation and reconditioning nonsense. It is over for you all! It is time for a change. I still can't believe you have not already called it quits. So, on behalf of many others, announce your resignations so we can get on with the business.