Chris Hewett: Why England coach is right not to change captaincy

Chris Robshaw is a highly effective leader of the 'follow me over the top' variety

Whatever dispute there may still be over Chris Robshaw's role in the England team – and judging by the way the head coach Stuart Lancaster told it, there is precious little debate amongst the people who matter most – the point of issue has nothing to do with the captaincy. Robshaw is a highly effective leader of the "follow me over the top" variety; a player armed with a solid track record of leadership in good times and bad.

To his critics, it is his body of work as a specialist open-side flanker that demands continuing scrutiny. Is he really a top-quality breakaway forward, or is he what is known in the trade as a "six and a half" – a natural blind-side flanker dressed up as something else? We are about to discover the truth of it, once and for all. Over the next three weeks or so, he is likely to run into three pure open-sides of a very high calibre indeed: the alert and athletic Wallaby back-rower Michael Hooper, who gave the England skipper God's amount of grief at Twickenham a year ago; the highly-regarded Argentine newcomer Pablo Matera; and – wait for it – some bloke by the name of McCaw. He's an All Black, apparently, and quite a good one.

At the end of last season, Robshaw's positional idiosyncracies, if that is what they are, threatened to cost him the earth. Left out of the British and Irish Lions squad because Warren Gatland, the head coach, did not regard him as a genuine No 7 like Sam Warburton or Justin Tipuric, he was also told, by Lancaster no less, that he needed to work on his footwork. He then had to watch Matt Kvesic, raised as an open-side flanker at Worcester and signed as such by Gloucester, play exceptionally well for England against Argentina in Salta, and again in Buenos Aires.

A response was required – and a response was duly forthcoming. Robshaw, a better footballer than any of his rivals, delivered a command performance in Harlequins' league victory at Worcester last month before producing an epic Heineken Cup display in adversity against Clermont Auvergne four days ago. In recent times, England coaches have been too quick make a change at the top: Martin Johnson's premature rejection of Steve Borthwick led directly to the implosion at the 2011 World Cup. Robshaw has done precious little wrong since being awarded the captaincy – a fact that makes Lancaster right to retain him.

News
Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
tech
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
life
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
Life and Style
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits