Regrets, a few

but not too few to mention.

In my little clarion cry for the England rugby team last Friday I said right at the end that they needed to walk of the the park with no regrets.

Unfortunately on Saturday night that’s exactly what they did, regrets that the could and probably should have won that game but for their own mistakes…oh and the mistakes of certain others. It really wasn’t because of the opposition, who did very little to win the game but sat back and let England lose it, a classic rope-a-dope.

It wasn’t the greatest game of rugby ever played, it was never going to be – certainly never going to match the cracking third place playoff that saw Argentina put five tries past France on Friday night (can’t believe how many times I’ve supported the Argies over the last few weeks) – this had far too much at stake.

All the errors were there from England, giving away penalties, stupid penalties in easy kickable positions, Tait getting caught in his own 22 not long into the game – kick the ball out Potter – Mongo Moody’s sly trip and others that handed South Africa most of their points on a silver platter. Moody seemed to have got those dull penalties out of his game in this tournament and it made him such a better player. Still can you stay too mad at a guy who in the dressing room after the final win in ’03 had that cretinous bint Tessa Jowell pushing to get into a team photo so turned to her and said…

Look, sweetheart, I don’t know who you are, but can you fuck off? Can’t you see we’re having our picture taken?Lewis “Mongo” Moody

But it was those kind of dull things, that they had cut out in previous games especially the Australian one, along with making wrong decisions and losing out in the lineout that cost them dear. As soon as those first two lineouts were lost on their own throw it really did look ominous, after that they hardly got and good clean ball from throws but they persisted in trying tap downs which never worked and were never really going to.

And there was the decisions made by others, christ gonna make me sound like a whinging Aussie/Kiwi the last thing you want to do come off whining like that crybaby David Kirk but there was something odd going on there.

The Kiwi’s whinged but there was one wrong decision made by the ref in their quarter against France, the forward pass something done at speed and nobody complained about at the time only when it was replayed and slowed down. But when the ref penalises Kay for crossing when he’s stood still and slightly touches an opposing player but when a Bok takes out an England player off the ball with crossing nothing given, strange.

So to the try, ah the best opportunity for a massive whinge but he did get it right the TV ref, Australian Stuart Dickinson, but and it’s a big but, it was a guess and such things should be down to guess work.

We all saw the replays, those watching on TV and those in the stadium and as all the angles were shown it made it look more and more like Cueto had scored, five points, Jonny maybe makes it seven, game on. But the longer it went on you knew he was looking for the slightest excuse not to give it, he was taking so long because of language difficulties…

With the language barrier between me and the French TV producers, I wasn’t able to get frame-by-frame pictures last night. The producer didn’t slow it down for me so I had to make the judgement in real time. That’s why it took so long. Eventually we got that view down the line which cleared it up. Stuart Dickinson

The view down the line cleared it up, yes when slowed down and shown frame by frame you can see Cueto’s foot touch the line, he was in touch no matter by how little a margin it was in touch no try but when shown in real time you couldn’t determine that, full speed he looks like he lifted his leg just in time, try.

The ref blew his whistle, when he found his pea again, then asked the TMO if there was any reason he shouldn’t give the try, in other words Dickinson had to come up with conclusive proof it wasn’t, with the evidence he had at his disposal he couldn’t, after the fact he was proved right but at that moment he guessed, guessed right but that ain’t right on any level. He doesn’t help himself with also saying…

His foot runs into touch by about 25 to 30 centimetres. Factually it is indisputable. Stuart Dickinson

😯 A foot over the line, yeah when it was up in the air but not when it was grounded, something fishy all round.

Saying all that Cueto should have slid in with the ball not had his arms bent to bang it down, just a shame Billy Whizz wasn’t the player, it could’ve changed things, as South Africa would’ve had to open up a bit more. Who knows it might have made it easier for them they might have swung the ball out to Habana and he could have destroyed England, or they could have created openings for England, you never know.

Another glorious defeat for England in a big game, this really had echoes of the 1990 football World Cup in Italy, England get off to an insipid start look totally out of it then the players take over, in Italy the likes of Butcher, Lineker etc told Robson what formation they had to play (3-5-2) and who should play here Ashton was told by the players, after the 36-0 thumping by South Africa, “pull his fucking finger out of his arse and put some work in”.

As one player said

He did nothing in the first few weeks. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was a complete shambles. At the start we had three coaches [Mike Ford, defence; John Wells, forwards; and Ashton] disagreeing with the way we had to play. Then we had input from four or five senior figures from Leicester and Wasps who were championing the different methods preferred by their clubs. All this information was being fed into the mix but no one was standing at the top saying this is how the ship is going to be run. That was the thrust of the meeting we had after the South Africa match, us saying to him [Ashton] you need to sort yourself out. Telegraph

It makes you think what should be done with England now the WC is over, no doubt Ashton was given a hospital pass by the RFU when he took over the shambles of the Andy Robinson days but does he get modern rugby, or is he stuck in the past, the amateur days when players could think for themselves go out there and entertain. Is it something that can work in the professional era where players are coached to death and everything is planned out for them, when from the league to internationals it’s nearly getting as choreographed as the NFL, driven by the fear of losing.

His captain Vickery is still backing him and it would be tough to get rid of the coach that just lead a team of no-hopers to within 9 points of retaining their crown and no doubt it’ll be another decision the RFU bungle as they have done so many times in the past.

With the right setup in place and bringing the youngsters through he needs to be given a chance but maybe in a different role, which includes a head figure that can deal with such things as the media and such like.

P.S. I should also apologise to Martin Corry, over the last couple of years I haven’t exactly been to kind to the ex /current captain, he has looked more of an international player in the last few weeks than previous and you certainly couldn’t say he left anything on that pitch Saturday night.

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