Rugby Union: De Glanville's pledge to run the ball

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The Independent Online
Phil de Glanville has used his first week as England captain to sell his vision of a fresh and invigorating brand of attacking rugby to his new charges. While he is not promising the earth, he is determined to move the national side away from the restrictive practices of set-piece obsession. Amen to that.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that we will run the ball all the time," he said after yesterday's run-out at Bisham Abbey. "Kicking is part of the game and when we consider the time to be right, we'll kick. But we will also play with a full range of options and, in general, my philosophy will be to attack with ball in hand.

"It's not enough for me to pledge myself to that philosophy. It must be carried forward by the whole team, which is why I called everyone together immediately on being appointed and asked anyone who did not feel comfortable with my ideas to speak up straight away. Everyone needs to be committed to this."

England play Italy on Saturday week in the first of seven matches this season, and even though the Bath centre will be celebrating his first game in charge, it is not certain that he will be the first man on to the field. Jason Leonard will be winning his 50th cap and given that the Twickenham tunnel is hardly wide enough to fit both men side by side, someone will have to give way.

Understandably, De Glanville has not wasted too much time thinking about the issue; in the frenzied aftermath of his appointment last week, he has barely had a chance to regather his wits. But he has made a point of speaking at length with his predecessor, Will Carling.

"We've talked on a couple of occasions and he's tried to warn me away from some of the potential pitfalls involved in the job. But I'm confident of adapting to the situation. The fame thing is only a problem if you let it become one."

Four England first choices failed to make it on to the training field yesterday. Martin Johnson, the Leicester lock, cried off with a virus while two loose forwards, Tim Rodber and Ben Clarke, rested leg injuries. Mark Regan, the Bristol hooker, had a cast removed from his damaged right thumb on Tuesday and will not test it in anger until his club's second-string match with London Scottish at the weekend. Phil Greening of Gloucester stands by.

Emyr Lewis will miss Cardiff's European Cup quarter-final against Bath on Saturday. The Welsh back-row forward's broken finger has not fully healed.

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