Ruck and Maul: Edwards will be in the picture if England reshuffle coaches


Click to follow
The Independent Online

England are bound to be alert to the grenade lobbed by Shaun Edwards after Wales's World Cup ended with Friday's 21-18 defeat by Australia.

Edwards signalled the end to his 10 years with Wasps, where he is head coach, and four years with Wales. "It looks like I'll be a free agent when I get back to England," said Edwards, who became Wales's part-time defence coach in January 2008.

"There's a chance I'll be unconnected at club and at international level. I'll make a statement when it all comes out properly but the club [Wasps] is in financial difficulties and maybe it's time for me to go on to bigger challenges. My future is up in the air. I'd have an open mind to anything."

A clearout by England appears inevitable. The manager Martin Johnson's performance has been publicly criticised by the man currently reviewing it, Fran Cotton, and the coaches John Wells (forwards), Brian Smith (attack) and Mike Ford (defence) are vulnerable.

The Hertfordshire-born, Oxford-educated former South Africa coach Nick Mallett has supporters at Twickenham – he has the worldwide experience and public face to carry off the head coach role.

Rank injustice

Now work this one out. Wales finished fourth in the World Cup but they will drop two places to eighth in the IRB world rankings tomorrow. England lost in the quarter-finals but have held the fifth place they were in at the start of the competition.

Wales started the World Cup in sixth but after three defeats they have fallen below Ireland and Argentina despite knocking the Irish out in the quarters.

England, by the way, last held the No 1 ranking in June 2004; they were fifth when Martin Johnson became manager in 2008, eighth in November 2009 and fourth in November 2010.

Deans joins Kiwis' crusade

Robbie Deans sent a "good luck" text to Richie McCaw – the pair won three Super Rugby titles at the Crusaders – before today's final.

"I've spoken to him too and wished him well," Deans, the former All Black full-back turned Wallabies coach, told Ruck and Maul. And would Deans, who nurtured half-a- dozen Canterbury players now in the All Black squad, take any personal pride in a New Zealand win?

"Now that we're out of it," he said. "I know how hard that group [New Zealand] have worked. It's their third dig, the nucleus of them. If they're successful in getting up, I'll be pleased for them."

Memories are made of this

What do you do when you have 40,000 items of rugby memorabilia and space to put 2,500 on display? Keep collecting, says Steve Berg, curator of the New Zealand Rugby Museum in Palmerston North, where a golden fern retrieved from an original blue New Zealand jersey vies for space with a box of fishhooks and tacks taken from the Christchurch pitch during the anti-apartheid protests of the Springboks' 1981 tour.

There is the 100-year-old whistle used to start every World Cup, which Berg hopes will be used for rugby's re-entry to the Olympics in 2016.

"The Webb Ellis Cup would be nice to have," said Berg. "And the jersey of the winning captain this year – whoever it turns out to be."

Toeing the party line

A favourite saying of any team who have done well at the World Cup is, "Don't rest on your laurels".

Not that it has been possible in the past few days in Auckland, with events hosted by England Rugby 2015, Japan Rugby 2019 and Visit Britain. It was possible in this social whirl to rub shoulders with a former Japanese prime minister, the British high commissioner to New Zealand and two former England captains, Lawrence Dallaglio and Martin Corry.

And though you may have tumbled out at the end unsure whether you were taking the Bullet Train to Big Ben or riding the Tube to Mount Fujiyama, the capacity of International Rugby Board types to enjoy a wine and sushi/cheese/hamburger party was not in doubt.

The vote to be the next IRB chairman between the incumbent, Bernard Lapasset, and challenger, Bill Beaumont, was adjourned last Wednesday, understood to be locked at 13-all. The whole boozy rigmarole will begin againin December.