Peter Bills: 20 reasons why English rugby is rubbish*

(* Except in 2003)

It’s a familiar tale. English rugby is down in the dumps, as the 6-42 walloping by South Africa last Saturday proved. It was England’s worst ever defeat at their Twickenham headquarters and it could be worse after this weekend when the All Blacks play England.

So what’s wrong with England, World Cup winners as recently as 2003? Peter Bills takes an historic (and contemporary) light hearted view on some of the reasons for the poverty of the Poms………

1) Rugby was never that important in the minds of Englishmen. In the years before professionalism, they regarded it as little more than a social occupation.

2) In those days, even international players with leading English clubs used to go off for skiing trips in the winter during the rugby season.

3) The gravy train ran and ran in those days. When England went to Paris to play France in the old days, RFU committee men would take their wives, daughters, sons, lovers, gardeners, batmen along for the ride. All, of course, on RFU exes.

4) Even today, rugby is a minor sport in England compared to soccer. That means there isn’t the huge intensity and weight of expectation on rugby players, like in New Zealand.

5) There is little demand for excellence in English rugby. The difference between standards expected in New Zealand compared to England, are enormous.

6) England got it right in 2003 because they refused a clamour to sack Clive Woodward after the failure of his team at the 1999 World Cup. Woodcock then went on to lead England to the title in 2007. So, drawing clear lessons from that after the 2007 tournament, they sacked coach Brian Ashton.

7) The RFU’s decision to dispense with Ashton after he’d taken them to second place in the Six Nations and the World Cup, cost them the services of one of the most inventive rugby minds in the country.

8) All rugby unions study the bottom line with microscopic intensity. But Twickenham thinks only of money, nothing else. All those traditional values that used to epitomise English rugby – courtesy, loyalty to staff and a vision – have been thrown out of the window, like human waste in medieval times.

9) The English clubs are still fighting with the RFU. England once had a war with France that lasted 100 years. The RFU v Clubs battle could go on as long.

10) England players rarely go abroad to play. Thus, they never learn another vision for the game, never acquire the hard nosed playing values of the southern hemisphere. Is it a coincidence Martin Johnson became such a towering figure in world rugby, given he spent his formative playing times in, er, New Zealand?

11) If any young English player scores a decent try, wins a line-out, makes a break or kicks a goal, he’s suddenly regarded as the new David Duckham, Prince Obolensky or Bill Beaumont. Danny Cipriani has been all over the tabloid media, partly because his girlfriend is actress Kelly Brook. At 21, the resulting tabloid fuss is a major distraction.

12) The money paid to young players in England is crazy. They’re built up as world beaters in their own minds before they’ve even learned the game properly. They’re allowed to live their lives secreted away from reality, protected by the PR police at clubs and the RFU.

13) Objectivity and Twickenham crowds nowadays are as far apart as Otago from Oxford. Corporate clowns full of too much booze fill the stadium on Test days. Most wouldn’t know a hooker from a pimp.

14) Englishmen are just not as patriotic as people like New Zealanders or Australians. Maybe that’s not surprising – the whole country is so filled with people from overseas, it has become like a giant international airport arrivals and departures lounge.

15) The Queen doesn’t go to Twickenham any more these days. Perhaps she was put off in 1991 at the World Cup final when Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer, sitting close by Her Majesty, shouted at his players at the end ‘Kick it into the shithouse’.

16) The RFU Chief Executive drives a swank Aston Martin and ostentatiously, parks it out the front of RFU Headquarters. What sort of a message does that send to everyone else ? That administration is more important here than the playing side?

17) One man at Twickenham has collected medals at two World Cup finals – the, er, press officer. It’s a standing joke among Fleet Street’s finest.

18) The jury is out on England’s new coaching hierarchy. A Leicester mafia – Martin Johnson, forwards coach John Wells and scrum coach Graham Rowntree – dominates. Many are not convinced by their credentials.

19) In America, they hate people who lose. Yanks coming to England are astonished that the underdog mentality is so prevalent. As the old saying goes, ‘Show me a good loser, and I’ll show you a loser’………..

20) The RFU’s wine cellar is one of the most lavishly stocked anywhere in the land. These are the things that really matter at Twickenham.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas