‘World Cup was my lowest point but I never considered quitting’: Chris Robshaw still bears World Cup scars but he is looking to the future

Ross McLean
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England v Wales - Group A: Rugby World Cup 2015
Robshaw led England during their ill-fated World Cup campaign last year (Source: Getty)

A new dawn may have broken with the appointment of head coach Eddie Jones but the passage of time has only slightly tempered the regret felt by the much-scrutinised Chris Robshaw over England’s ill-fated World Cup campaign.

Excitement and promise quickly turned to despair during the autumn as a Robshaw-led England wilted on home soil to assume the unwanted status of the first-ever host nation to crash out of the World Cup during the group stages.

Head coach Stuart Lancaster and his lieutenants Graham Rowntree, Andy Farrell and Mike Catt all lost their jobs in the ensuing cull, while it remains to be seen whether Robshaw is retained as captain or Jones looks elsewhere.

But despite the 29-year-old starring for Harlequins at blindside flanker of late and earning a place in Jones’ maiden England squad for next month’s Six Nations, the spectre of the World Cup persists.

Asked whether it was the lowest moment of his career, Robshaw told City A.M.: “Yes. It was pretty low. As captain, you always know you’re going to have some good times and some pretty rocky times as well.

“But you have to have broad enough shoulders to deal with it. It is one of those things that will stay with you. Stuff like that will always be a part of you but you have to move forward.

“That’s what you have to do if you want to be successful and be part of a winning side. It hurts at the time but you have to get back on the horse.”

Robshaw was a figurehead of the previous regime having been handed the captain’s armband for Lancaster’s first match in charge in 2012, despite holding just a solitary cap at the time.

The axing of Lancaster and his coaching staff remains an acute source of remorse for him, while nine players from the World Cup squad also paid a heavy price after being overlooked by Jones for the Six Nations in favour of seven uncapped rookies.

“When you see people lose their jobs it’s always tough and you feel for these guys hugely,” added Robshaw, England’s second most-capped skipper of all time.

“I’m not proud of the World Cup and when you look at the fallout and what’s happened, coaches and some players have gone, you have to accept responsibility for that.”

But despite the repercussions of England’s failings and the almost constant speculation over Robshaw’s suitability as skipper, he insists thoughts of him falling on his sword and relinquishing the captaincy or calling time on his international career were not entertained.

“No. Never. It’s something I love. When you’re in that role you will have tough times but do you throw the towel in or do you go out there and show what you’re about?,” he said. “That’s the important thing. To go and show you want to achieve again.”

Northampton’s controversial hooker Dylan Hartley, who has accumulated more than a years’ worth of suspensions, has been heavily tipped to take the captaincy reins and end 43-cap Robshaw’s four-year tenure.

The Redhill-born flanker’s right to a regular place in the side has also been questioned, particularly after Jones remarked prior to his appointment as England boss that “Robshaw wears No7 but he is a six-and-a-half at best”.

“I want to be in an England shirt. Whether it’s as captain or not, six or seven, it’s irrelevant. I want to be out there as part of a winning side and doing my utmost for the team,” added Robshaw, who won 25 and lost 17 matches as England skipper.

“If I’m reinstated as captain I would be hugely honoured but it’s important not to get involved in speculation and hearsay and just stay focused.”

testimonial year

Robshaw could win his 50th international cap during 2016, while the backdrop to the next 12 months is the award of a testimonial year by Harlequins having clocked up over a decade's service since joining their academy from Millfield School.

A shoot, a round of golf and fine dining at Goodwood, and Robshaw-tinged rugby experiences all feature in the testimonial year activities, which will benefit three charities: the Teenage Cancer Trust, Walking With The Wounded and Canine Partners.

“I have had setbacks and injuries along the way but I have had some great moments and have some great memories in a club shirt,” he added.

“It was one of those situations where the committee approached me and I’m thinking ‘I haven’t been around quite that long have I?’.”

Perhaps not long enough in an England shirt if Jones’s Six Nations selection is anything to go by.

For more information about the Chris Robshaw Testimonial year, please visit http://testimonial.chrisrobshaw.com/

or call the event office on 0203 770 6982.