Jake White, who guided South Africa to a second world title in France a little over a year ago, is not the first coach from the southern hemisphere to view the very English disease of Rampant Ciprianitis with a degree of suspicion – the successful Australian strategist Eddie Jones beat him to it by a good few weeks – but his words yesterday struck a chord all the same. "I read more about Danny Cipriani in the West End than I do about him on the rugby field," White remarked, adding that in his book, Jonny Wilkinson remained unchallenged as the finest red-rose outside-half around.
"Cipriani hasn't done that much," he continued. "I'm not saying he won't go on and do everything, but he has a lot of rugby to play. I see Wilkinson as the best English No 10.
"If you look at the last World Cup tournament, England were dead and buried after we beat them 36-0 in the pool stage, yet Wilkinson returned from injury and almost inspired them to win the competition. It's important for young guys to sit in the dressing room and see someone like him there. It gives them strength."
Of course, it is not the case that Martin Johnson, the new England manager, has replaced Wilkinson with Cipriani for the current international programme at Twickenham. That decision will not be made until the Six Nations Championship in February, by which time Wilkinson is expected to have recovered from the dislocated kneecap he suffered in an early-season Premiership game. But it is clear that White, who will renew a productive working relationship with Jones next week when he links up with Saracens in an advisory role, would lose precious little sleep over the issue.
Speaking to promote Sky Sports' coverage of the England-South Africa international this weekend, White also had some interesting thoughts on the fast-tracking of Johnson into the red-rose hierarchy, despite the former captain's lack of coaching or managerial experience. "If you look at the coaches who have won a World Cup, most of them – Bob Dwyer, Kitch Christie, Rod Macqueen, myself – never played for their countries," he said.
"Having been beaten by Australia last weekend, Martin now realises what the job is all about. Coaching is very different to playing or captaincy. It's not a given that if you played at a certain level, you can also coach at that level."
The Rugby Football Union yesterday announced a profit of £1.5m for the year ending in June, despite losing significant sums in revenue through the absence of autumn international matches in 2007. The figure was an improvement of more than £3m on the June 2004 results – the last time home matches were lost because of a World Cup. In addition, the union's net worth increased to more than £141m, while turnover – always fragile when the game shifts into World Cup mode – held up well, falling by less than £5m to £99.1m.
Things are not so rosy at Bristol, however. The Premiership's bottom side has launched an appeal for new investment, with their chief executive, the former No 8 Steve Gorvett, arguing that an extra £2.5m a year needs to be generated if the club is to remain competitive. "At a series of public meetings in May, we highlighted the club loses about £1m a year," Gorvett said. "This season, those losses are going to rise through a combination of factors: the recession has dramatically hit our corporate income, the walk-up gate is down by over 20 per cent due to the dual effect of the credit crunch and poor results, and there are knock-on effects on our merchandise, food and beverage income. All Premiership clubs are below budget, and industry estimates of combined losses for this year range between £12m and £20m."
Total points scored by England's new No 10 Danny Cipriani for his club London Wasps (367pts) and England (43 pts) in a 62 appearances to date.Reuse content