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Undisguised Blessing

England’s elimination from the Rugby World Cup is an undisguised blessing – not least for the host country, New Zealand.  The tournament organizers must be glad to be rid of the England party.   I’m not sure we want them back.

Even as the players prepared to return home, in disgrace for inept on-field performances and off-field antics, they continue to hog the media headlines for the wrong reasons.  Manny Tuilagi – the youngest member of the team – jumped off a ferry and swam ashore, there to be arrested by waiting police officers.  Meanwhile, Lewis Moody – the captain, no less – was facing a fine for wearing a gum-shield bearing a sponsor’s logo, an offence for which Tuilagi was punished only a week earlier. .   

These people are either arrogant louts or consummate idiots.

What kind of retribution do the team, coaches and management now face back in England?

Business logic would suggest a clear-out at each level.  Some players have plainly reached the end of their careers – Jonny Wilkinson and Mike Tindall for a start.  Many more names come to mind.  The media – and my opinion, for what it’s worth – is that the manager, Martin Johnson, must go, his coaching staff along with him.  Over four years they have had every opportunity, and unlimited resources, to build an excellent team and they have cocked it up.  England’s national team looks the worse for their having been in charge of it.

Mind you, any chance of radical curative measures has been severely reduced by news that Rob Andrew, head of rugby’s so-called elite performance group, is first to conduct an investigation.  Andrew, it should be noted, only retains his job because his employer, the Rugby Football Union, is a complete administrative shambles.  Andrew is widely regarded as part of the problem, but he operates in the comfort of a power vacuum.  There is no chief executive, and the RFU chairman is a reinstated former chairman, himself a deeply unpopular figure clinging to power by his fingertips, serving on an interim basis.  Various consultative bodies, and many commentators, have called for the entire board to resign.  Andrew reigns unfettered. 

How, then, can an executive branch that can’t seem to run its own affairs be expected to sort out the on-field management problems?

The answer is that it cannot.  The prospect is that it will not.

As I lamented in a piece last week, what an absolute shower!

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