Folly of relying on Jonny to give England a leg up

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The Independent Online

Predictably, the blame for the continued decline of England's rugby union world champions is being placed almost entirely at the feet of Charlie Hodgson.

Predictably, the blame for the continued decline of England's rugby union world champions is being placed almost entirely at the feet of Charlie Hodgson.

How convenient that such a scapegoat is so visible. No doubt, the injured demi-god Jonny Wilkinson would have place-kicked more accurately than his successor as the French fought their way back at Twickenham. But tactically would he have been as adroit as English rugby's public enemy No 1? Would he have shifted the play so artfully as England built a 17-6 half-time lead? Would he have produced the killer kick into the corner which gave England such promising field position with the French hanging on to their one-point lead? Such questions were lost in the post-game howls. They usually are.

Even so, it would be folly to believe that all will be well as soon as Jonny comes marching back. England need more than a mere good kicking leg if they are to climb back up the mountain. That was becoming evident even when World Cup victory was snatched so memorably from the jaws of advancing time. How quickly it is forgotten that England were being outplayed by the Welsh in the quarter-final before the old hand Mike Catt appeared. And who was it he was required to rescue? I could have sworn it was the great Jonny Wilkinson.

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