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Bath Bring Out The Gladiator In A Losing Cause

There is no such thing as a perfect final, any sportsperson will tell you that. In rugby terms, I struggle to think of a better one than Bath’s demolition of a strong Gloucester outfit by 40 points in a sweltering Twickenham in the 1990 Cup Final (how could I forget my last game in the […]

Can England Light It Up In Lyon?

For those who do not know, England’s last 6 Nations destination, Lyon, has an amazing history dating back to Roman times. Also the Festival of Light ( Fête de Lumières) on December 4th each year is an incredible event based on a city’s prayers to the Virgin Mary against a 17th Century plague. Lyon is also a culinary […]

Stuck In The Middle – An English Dilemma

I remember making my ‘second’ England début in 1986 against Wales at Twickenham. Opposite me was John Devereux, Bridgend, Lions and Rugby League International on his eventual CV. He was one of a multitude of top class Welsh centres in the game at that time. I was instructed to break the gain line and it […]

Scotland Provide First Real Test For English Revival

They say lightning doesn’t strike twice. My first Six Nations weekend’s successful predictions were not replicated due to a disallowed last minute try at Murrayfield. My old playing colleague, Jeff Probyn, dredged up in his media column the ‘non-try’ by Tony Stanger which won the Grand Slam for Scotland in the infamous ‘Grudge’ match as […]

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 […]

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…

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