The first inside stories of events within the England camp at the Rugby World Cup are coming out, and they aren’t pretty. Laurence Dallaglio’s in particular. This is one of the best pieces of thoughtful writing involving a sportsman that I’ve read.
A few of the more experienced guys got together: Phil Vickery, Mike Catt, Jason Robinson, Jonny Wilkinson, Andy Farrell and myself. “Am I crazy or are we all thinking the same thing here?” one of the guys asked, and it turned out we all saw things in pretty much the same way. We had a head coach who wanted one thing, other coaches who wanted other things, and everyone was unsure about the overall direction, especially the players. The general feeling was that three weeks before our first prep game, we hadn’t a clue what was going on.
Soon after we arrived home from Paris, there was a letter from the Rugby Football Union and a comprehensive questionnaire regarding every aspect of England’s organisation and performance at the World Cup. We were asked to assess the team’s preparation and the contribution of our various coaches. The assessments and comments could be made anonymously if you wished. The first thing I did was to write my name on the top of the form. Anonymity is not something you can afford in Test rugby.