Well last week I said I didn’t think the Rugby Football Union had the bottle to sack head coach Eddie Jones despite me saying that he should go.
How wrong I was.
I do think the call to sack the Australian has come a couple of years late – he himself has said previously about how important it is to leave at the end of a cycle and let someone else take over any good work accomplished.
But I was somewhat surprised to see Richard Cockerill named as the caretaker until the RFU get their house in order and appoint a coach on a permanent basis.
He’s known for producing grit and power but England aren’t short of that at the moment in my opinion, they’re lacking attacking encouragement and varied game plans.
Borthwick will be the next England coach unless something insane happens, but that doesn’t stop me dreaming of some influence from Down Under in New Zealand.
Rugby on my mind
I have said for a few weeks now that I would throw the wallet at New Zealander Scott Robertson in order to secure his services.
He’s a mindset coach, he encourages talent to use their talents – and that’s not too common in international rugby at the moment.
I am not sure Cockerill can take England through until the World Cup, despite his impressive domestic record with former club Leicester Tigers.
Robertson is hungry as well, and that matters – you need a coach who is going to be as eager to succeed and prove themselves as the players.
That said, I wouldn’t entirely be against England looking at Wayne smith – he is one of the best coaches in the world and has a proven track record. Alas, we are looking at Steve Borthwick. I am sure the Tigers coach will be a good fit for England because he has good knowledge of the old Jones regime – he once worked under the Australian – but will also have his own idea of where he wants to take the team.
Whatever happens we’re just nine months out from a World Cup and that is a massive worry – I am not sure we have seen any men’s coach come in and make a difference in such a short amount of time ahead of the showpiece tournament of the calendar.
I simply hope England sort themselves out. 2023 cannot be a ‘nothing’ World Cup, it can’t.
Europe is back
Away from the England Rugby job, a hugely exciting new season kicks off this evening in the form of the European Champions cup – though it includes South African teams now so we cannot really call it that.
The Champions Cup is the most prestigious club competition in the world and by adding the South African sides – the Bulls, Stormers and Sharks – it’s only become more prestigious.
There are rightful qualms about their inclusion such as the cost for fans to get down there but I think the South African sides can be fun in France and really show up in England – Harlequins playing this weekend in the South African summer will suit their style. La Rochelle are reigning champions and there’s no reason as to why they couldn’t do the double but they, as usual, will face a stiff challenge from a number of French sides as well as Leinster and Saracens.
Saracens are unbeaten and I think they’ll be England’s main representative – I don’t see the Scottish or Welsh doing too much in the competition this year.
France could spring a few surprises this year and I think Ulster are worth a watch as well but I am not sure where the Premiership upsets come from which is a worry.
Europe is back and it’s just so exciting. I cannot wait.