The players who did most to bring about professionalism are unlikely to make as much money as they could have done

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Rugby Union selectors throughout the world are confronted by a problem which few, if any, will solve satisfactorily: whether to look forward to the World Cup in 1999, to live in the present and select on merit alone, or to mix the two approaches. Most countries will opt for the last - the compromise - solution. New Zealand show signs of adopting the first; though their emulation of the old French policy of mass execution may owe more to their defeat in this year's final than to looking forward towards 1999.

England, however, propose to choose on merit. Anyway, that is what Jack Rowell told Brian Moore - and that is why Moore has put off his decision to retire from international rugby. The story is told in Moore and Stephen Jones's book Brian Moore: The Autobiography (Partridge Press, pounds 16.99).

It is published at a most apposite time. Not only has everything that Moore prophesied and worked for more or less come about - though not perhaps in the way he wanted - it has happened when he, and others like him, are growing too old to profit from it.

In the recent England team there are Moore himself, Rob Andrew, Dewi Morris, Dean Richards, Rory Underwood and, the most public figure of all, Will Carling. Morris has already retired; while Andrew is to become a player-manager with Newcastle. The rest will almost certainly not be playing in the next World Cup. Even more unfairly, they will miss the money that will be forthcoming in the next few years.

Certainly Andrew has secured lucrative employment in his native north- east. Carling's business continues, though whether his recent escapades make it a better or worse commercial proposition is not for me to say. The point is, however, that the players who did more than any others to bring about professionalism in the northern hemisphere - the senior members of the England squad - do not look likely to make as much as they could have done, because their careers are drawing to a close.

If Moore, an intelligent man, realises this, he shows no sign of bitterness. It is not a bitter book. What it is, if I may make the distinction, is a resentful book. In particular, Moore resented - still resents - his exclusion from what he and Jones perhaps infelicitously refer to as the "inner circle" of Carling and Geoff Cooke.

He tells us that he never came to know either, though he does not blame them for that. Indeed, he pays generous tribute to Cooke, saying that though the England players deserve the credit for the team's success in recent years, this would not have come about without Cooke.

Others of whom Moore writes generously are Ian McGeechan; Rowell, from what he has seen of him; and also his old Nottingham friend, Alan Davies, who was, he rightly thinks, unfairly dismissed by Wales before the last World Cup.

Altogether he makes several valuable points about touring, though they are not set out in any very clear or systematic way. He believes that coaches should coach and managers manage, and that Cook's principal failing was that he would put his spoke into the coaching machinery. Clive Rowlands, on the 1989 Lions tour of Australia, did not make this mistake.

Though Moore describes Rowlands as "voluble" - as, indeed, he is, few more so - he considers that he did a good job. In fact, he and Ieuan Evans are the only two Welshmen (three if you count Davies too) of whom he has a good word to say. His general view seems to be that as England have long suffered verbal and worse abuse from the Celtic nations and the French, so they are now in justice entitled to a bit of their own back.

Thus the Irish are patronised as kick-and-rushers, their victories over England in 1993 and 1994 rather glossed over, though Moore has a good whinge about Simon Geoghegan's try on the latter occasion. The Welsh are largely ignored. Though he is loud in his praises of Kingsholm, he does not mention St Helen's or Stradey Park at all. The French are tricky customers, prone to dirty play. But Moore reserves his strongest indignation for the Scots, particularly for John Jeffrey, both as a perpetually offside player and as a nationalistic commentator.

All in all it is a most stimulating performance. I certainly hope that new rules about professionalism do not prevent good books of this kind from being written. Still, I could have done with fewer stories about being sick on various occasions, and with a drastic reduction in assertions of the author's independence, aggression, competitiveness and refusal to stand any nonsense from anyone. We know, Brian, we know.