England’s Centres of Attention

Another wild weekend of high scoring Premiership rugby indicates, besides attacking intent, either a total lack of defence, pressure or an insatiable lust for losing bonus points! Either way the sizeable crowds are loving it although the defence coaches will be tearing their hair out. The clubs seem to be taunting Steve Borthwick who will […]

England Excitement Builds From European Renaissance

Some people write almost as much about the format of Rugby’s Champions Cup as they do about the rugby itself. I know from experience and particularly when Covid had such an impact a couple of years ago. Well, we have been treated to four special weekends and with more to come in the Round of […]

England’s Cause For Optimism In Europe

No this headline is not a new post Brexit assessment. When I was Chairman of Europe, Jacky Lorenzetti owner of Racing 92 made a post match speech and was passionate about the sporting connections in rugby remaining constant, Brexit or no. Sports crosses all boundaries and represents true values in life. More of that later. […]

Farewell To The Master

When you spend as long at the top of rugby as has Wayne Barnes, recently retired after officiating at the Rugby World Cup FInal in his 100th test match, you are likely to attract opinions from all sides. Let me begin by saying that Barnesy is a personal friend as well as a member and supporter of […]

A Mark Of Greatness In The Greatest Rugby World Cup

Unusually for me, I was left a little speechless – perhaps drained- by the Rugby World Cup until now. The final fortnight was a wonderful contradiction and sets the platform for the next World Cup cycle, the Good the Bad and sometimes the Ugly. What do I mean? Well, France put on a rugby version […]

A Bridge Too Far For England – Now We Must Build Some.

You could tell there was a surprise coming, even pre match. Freddie Steward was in tears during the anthem and there was real emotion, especially from Maro Itoje who looked like he meant business and led from the front, a critical change. By contrast, Sia Kolisi and his team seemed subdued. From the whistle, the Boks were shaken by a whole series of little moments and they could not get a foothold. It happens to the best, and England held them in a vice of confusion and uncertainty -let us pay tribute to their performance which won the hearts of a nation who had no real expectation. I also hope that supporters will find some shared feelings with Owen Farrell who was close to tears in the post match interview and at last let down the guard which has alienated him at times. To be clear he had an outstanding game – strictly with the boot but that was the plan. 

The Tale of Two World Cup Rugby Cities

When two becomes one springs to mind at this stage of the Rugby World Cup 2023. I remember being told that the quarter finals of the Heineken Champions Cup were in some ways the highlight because of the titanic struggles which used to occur. This has most likely happened here, although all for the wrong reasons. The lopsided draw made it look as if we were witnessing two different competitions which have now merged into one.

World Cup Crunch Time Approaches…

There is no doubt that a World Cup Quarter-Final focuses the mind like no other rugby day in a 4 year cycle.  I remember vividly in 1991 as we prepared for ‘ Le Crunch’ against France in the Parc des Princes we knew one certainty – lose and we go home. It became a huge driver for us and while the intensity or even fear doesn’t win the match it ensures that each player will perform with desperation. It was a historic win for England in a truly gladiatorial atmosphere…

Rugby World Cup: Selection Matters

I think we will recognise the coming together of the Springbok and Tongan squads in prayer as a great moment of RWC 2023. As to the match itself, Tonga showed their true capabilities and were remarkably unlucky not be leading at halftime against a fully loaded Springbok team.It was good to see a match of such intensity…

High Five for the Flying Fijians

Jonathan Webb and I sat on a wooden bench in Nadi, Fiji, looking disconsolately at each other as Fiji had just completed a famous win over a rather battered England midweek side in 1991. We had been overrun and that can happen when you lose control against such a team.