Sports Letters

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Not a good sport

From Mr J Beckett

Sir: I agree with referee Stephen Lodge that Sky Sports' trial by television in the recent game between West Ham and Man United makes his job very difficult. How would Andy Gray perform I wonder out in the middle?

And I don't think he is fair in some of his comments about Julian Dicks. For example, a two-footed tackle by the very talented Ryan Giggs on Rowland of West Ham was not even mentioned by Andy Gray.

Yours sincerely




Hunt for the truth

From Mr D Rankin

Sir: I am tired of reading inaccurate reporting of Roger Hunt's role in the 1966 England World Cup team. A myth has developed that it was he who "came with a late run" to take Jimmy Greaves' place in the team, a myth perpetuated in your paper on 23 January when discussing Robbie Fowler's call up to the England get-together this week.

It was actually Geoff Hurst who was the latecomer to the squad in 1966 and who denied Jimmy Greaves a place in the World Cup-winning team. Hunt had featured alongside Greaves throughout the build-up, Geoff Hurst only made his presence felt in the final preparations.

Yours faithfully


Crosby, Liverpool

Dumb's the word

From Mr R Hazlewood

Sir: After the Southern Hemisphere teams have shown the limitations of 10-man rugby, I see from the French match that the English have come up with the answer - nine-man.

What I witnessed was the worst display I have seen in a long time. Professionalism seems to have produced a uncreative bunch of robots. The pack continued to play round the base of the scrum and line-out even though a 10 year- old could have seen after 30 minutes that it was gaining nothing. The often telegraphed kicking of our new, clearly brainless, No 9 (Matt Dawson), resulting in a scrum and a kick back, epitomised the tactics (it could hardly be called strategy) of the whole match.

One wonders, too, how our No 15 (Mike Catt) managed to gain an international shirt. Whenever he receives a ball in open play his mechanical reaction is to kick down the field,usually down the throat of an opponent.

I had heard from the media that our rugby supremo, Jack Rowell, was determined to bring an open and exciting style to the English game. It is obvious, then, there is some other English team waiting in the wings, because given his view he could not have trained the one I saw.

The fact that not one ball reached Rory Underwood, a match winner often, nor the other wing for that matter, gives one the suspicion that with the coming of payment English rugby as a team game has come to the end of the road. Might we be witnessing professional players who want to be seen on TV as much as possible, be the presentation good, bad, indifferent or, in this case, disastrous.

Yours sincerely


37500 Chinon, France

Letters should be marked "For publication" and should contain daytime and evening phone numbers. They should be sent to Sports Editor, The Independent, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL. They may be shortened for reasons of space.