Hart one pace ahead

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The Independent Online
In the end it all boiled down to speed. The New Zealand Barbarians were faster on their feet and quicker thinking. John Hart, the tourists' coach, pinpointed pace as the difference between the two sides. While not seeking to dismiss England in any way, Hart concluded: "In the end I think there was one difference between the two teams - speed. Ultimately the game at pace got to England, whereas we keep going at pace and it is particularly important in the loose forwards.

"I think the new rules demand more speed. It is a very important ingredient. You've got to compromise at times for size, and I think speed and strength showed through today. It comes down to the way you train. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves at training in terms of speed and skill.

"That has been the big difference in All Black rugby in the last 10 years and it showed out there - one example being the inter-passing between the second-row forwards Robin Brooke and Ian Jones.

"There is an intensity under which we train and I think maybe that is where other teams will have to focus in the future."

But Hart did not play down what was a gutsy England display. "I wasn't surprised by the intensity of their performance," he said. "I think it was a very big day for them. We thought they would throw everything at us and I thought they tackled well."

He singled out Martin Johnson for an outstanding performance at lock. "He is really strong in the tight phases. I thought Andy Gomarsall, the scrum-half, got a bit exposed today, but I think he is a very good player.

"But you need that link between the forwards and backs, and that continuity takes time to get going. Too often from England's point of view, crucial passes went to ground.

"But we were rusty today too, I think that showed in the first half. I think the skill and speed factor is the combination you have to get right under these new rules. When the game flows that's when the passes have got to be made. But I think England will be able to take a lot out of today.

"It was another step forward, but I just want to emphasise that speed was what was missing there today."