Rugby Union: To drop Carling might seem harsh, as he has not been having the easiest of times, but De Glanville is entitled to justice too

Jack Rowell has always impressed me as a sensitive soul who conceals his shyness behind a certain brutal jocularity and a series of jokes that are slightly above the heads of his audience. I cannot imagine he likes being jeered - which of us does - as he was at Leicester last Saturday.

Geoff Cooke, to the best of my knowledge, was never the object of the scorn of the mob. But then, Cooke's team had never, I think, lost three matches in succession, as Rowell's side have - against New Zealand, France and South Africa.

Against New Zealand, they were confronted by a better side and a force of nature in Jonah Lomu. Against France, in the play-off for third place in the World Cup, they didn't seem to be trying very hard: an impression which was subsequently confirmed by the statements of some of the players concerned.

While against South Africa they were dispirited, playing a side who were well below their best but who would have won by 25 points if Joel Stransky had been in normal kicking form. I have compiled a class-list of the England players in that match:

Good to excellent: Martin Bayfield, Ben Clarke, Lawrence Dallaglio, Phil de Glanville, Jeremy Guscott, Damian Hopley, Martin Johnson and Mark Regan.

Fair to middling: Kyran Bracken, Jonathan Callard, Will Carling, Jason Leonard, Andy Robinson and Victor Ubogu.

Poor to shocking: Mike Catt, Tim Rodber and Rory Underwood.

Perhaps it is a bit unfair to put Callard in the second division. He place-kicked better than Stransky, and in many other respects played a normal Callard game. Alas, he is able to show a speed and penetration with Bath which elude him with England.

Paul Hull - perhaps the unluckiest player in English rugby - has demonstrated these qualities at the highest level. But he is not a recognised place- kicker. Mike Catt could assume these essential duties if he were retained at outside-half.

Alternatively, a place-kicking outside half could be brought in, such as Paul Grayson or David Pears - unless he is in one of his sadly regular states of injury. This would provide the option of moving Catt to his former England position of full-back.

The difficulty is mainly self- inflicted. It arises from first playing Catt out of his club position, and in not securing adequate cover for Rob Andrew. Quite apart from his move to Newcastle, it was evident that Andrew was going to retire before long, yet little was done to promote a successor.

However, the threequarter prospects look brighter. Hopley impressed the television viewers more, perhaps, than he did those who were at Twickenham. This was because his spirit and determination were apparent on the screen, whereas his lack of true pace was not. Still, those former qualities are not in such generous supply that Rowell can afford to discard them.

In the centre, there is now a clear case for playing the Bath combination of De Glanville and Guscott, whose return to something like their old form has not been celebrated as joyfully as it should. To drop Carling might seem harsh, particularly as he has not been having the easiest of times lately, but then De Glanville is entitled to justice too.

Rory Underwood, great wing though he was, has been asleep once too often, and should depart to make way for either his brother, Tony, Adedayo Adebayo, Jon Sleight-holme, or that curiously neglected figure Steve Hackney.

Unlike many observers, I did not think Bracken had a particularly bad game against South Africa. He has been criticised for always passing to Catt, instead of kicking or making a break on his own. But scrum-halves are not there to be nursemaids. As Barry John once said to Gareth Edwards: "Just throw me the ball, and I'll catch it."

With the forwards, the problem - as it always seems to be these days - is the precise composition of the back row. There is, admittedly, a little trouble in the front row too: a case for moving Leonard to tight head and bringing in Graham Rowntree or even Kevin Yates on the other side. But with Clarke now assured of his favourite spot, the flankers are the worry.

I have never been able to understand why Wasps persist in playing Dallaglio at No 6. His speed, as he has shown in sevens particularly, make him a natural No 7, I should have thought. Now it turns out that he wants to play No 8.

Happily, Robinson provided one more demonstration of the modern truth that in international rugby short flankers sink beneath the waves. I should bring in Dallaglio at No 7 and give another chance to Steve Ojomoh, who has never yet let England down, at No 6. But I do not expect Rowell to play the slightest attention.

Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Arts and Entertainment
tvPoldark, TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor