Top coaches say players have broken 'team bond'

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The Independent Online

A trio of highly respected coaches has joined forces to condemn the decisions of Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt to criticise publicly the England coach Brian Ashton's performance at the World Cup.

The former England coach Andy Robinson, former Scotland and Lions coach Ian McGeechan and Bristol director of rugby Richard Hill said that the dressing-room bond of loyalty should be strictly observed, even when players publish autobiographies.

Speaking at the Heineken Cup launch in Cardiff, the Edinburgh director of rugby Robinson said: "There will be times when you needle each other, times when you're going to be cuddling each other and times when you're going to have disagreements. There will be times you'll make mistakes and times you'll do really well and all those aspects have got to stay within the camp. That's part of the bond of being part of a team, in my opinion. It's part of being a team.

"I very rarely criticised England players in the press. I don't think I've ever done that and I won't. It's part of a coach's job and you can do it face to face, one on one, but I don't think people should be making statements out of that scenario."

Hill, a former England captain, added: "What happens behind closed doors has to be kept behind them and not be for public consumption. Unfortunately, an autobiography lends itself to a few home truths. It's a shame when it happens in sport, particularly when a team has done really well.

"It is disappointing and I think I share the views of most people who believe it's not the right way to go about it.

"The perception on the outside is that Brian has done a brilliant job to take a squad that was a bit of a shambles to the World Cup final. On the face of it, to the average punter that is a fantastic thing to have done.

"Why go and spoil it and prick that little bubble with one or two comments? People have to understand that things like that always go on in rugby clubs. When you get 30 players who are full of testosterone, have strong opinions and are very competitive, it creates situations. It's not like having 30 office workers.

"These blokes have strong personalities and it's not a bed of roses, and that's why coaches have to deal with management issues and keep their squad going. It's a hard job."

McGeechan has Ashton's greatest detractor, Dallaglio, and the coach's biggest defender, Phil Vickery, on his books at Wasps. McGeechan hopes he can keep the lid on their difference of opinion and said: "I've always liked things to be kept internally. You should just try to respect that."

Jacques Rogge, the International Olympic Committee president, has warned that rugby sevens faces "an uphill battle" to be included at future Olympic Games. Rogge, a former union player for his native Belgium, also said that the 15-a-side format had no chance of gaining Olympic status.

Two years ago, sevens failed to win enough support to gain admittance for the London 2012 games, but Rogge said of the format: "The top is far broader in sevens, and you don't have the huge margins of victory you get in 15s – that would be good for the Olympic tournament."

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