My apologies to you non-rugby people who are reading this, but a more normal fishing service will resume later this week - I can't though not acknowledge how seriously England were taken to the cleaners by Wales on Saturday afternoon. A drubbing, a thrashing, a humiliation, a game between a side of men and a side of boys, call it what you will, but Wales outplayed us, out-thought us, seriously outsmarted us, and at end of what was an awesome game they thoroughly deserved their record winning margin. Gutted ain't the word...........
So is this yet another false dawn for English rugby ? Is this another period we English rugby supporters have to go through as our team try in vain to find their way back to the top of world rugby ? Well I personally have confidence even after that horror show on Saturday. If I am honest we have been going backwards since the New Zealand and Scotland, and perhaps in the long-term the drubbing Wales handed out to us with such class and efficiency will prove beneficial. I truly believe that Stuart Lancaster is the right man for the job and I also believe that within the whole of English rugby we have the players - but perhaps some of the players who suffered at the hands of the Welsh horde are not the right players for the future ?
We can't pretend that our midfield has had any meaningful penetration since Billy Twelvetrees played there against Scotland. For all that I think Chris Ashton is potentially world class he is badly out of form and his defensive lapses are painful to watch. To watch as our front row was so easily dismantled on Saturday was just horrible, whereas number 6 and 7 for Wales were just immense. Is that the Lions 6 and 7 right there ? I can't wait for the Lions tour this summer, but on that game can you see many English players making the Test side ? As professional sportsmen I bet you the English squad are hurting about as badly as is possible on the world stage, but I do believe a serious reality check is no bad thing from time to time, and I bet you they return a stronger, more adventurous and more clinical side.
I had an interesting email from a Welsh guy after the match that went like this : "Will you please stop harping on about 2003??? It's over mate, it's been and gone, that was a very long time ago. Do yourself a favour and go and buy a copy of every national newspaper this morning and have a reality check. Then the next time you are driving through our neck of the woods, just remind yourself of what happened yesterday, go over it minute by minute in your head and you will (or at least you should) understand that the best team in the country, by a mile, is Wales. Stick to writing about fishing Henry, you seem to know what you're talking about there." (a few grammatical errors corrected)
I wasn't going to respond, but we English are hurting after that thrashing !! Firstly, I think this person might have spectacularly missed the underlying humour in a number of my blog posts, and secondly, for all that we imploded so badly on Saturday and that 2003 might well be ten years ago now, the simple fact is that we (England) have a World Cup to our name and you (Wales) don't. Wales are quite possibly the best rugby side in Europe at the moment, but when I am down about the rugby I can still so vividly recall that November 2003 morning like it was yesterday, and yes, I will bang on about it until we win our next World Cup. Why ? Because I can. Because we won it - even if it was ten years ago now.