What went wrong?


England's selection has been a disaster area; with unsackable players - Chris Robshaw, Dan Cole, Brad Barritt, Tom Wood and Tom Youngs.

The endless chopping and changing in every position has robbed the squad of confidence in themselves and each other.

The shocking shambles of the midfield and the apparent tendency to choose forwards on statistics instead of power and nasty edges has crippled them.

Stuart Lancaster's original choice of Robshaw as captain and flanker should have been a short-term appointment to tide things over. Robshaw has lacked the inspirational qualities in terms of his play and his public speeches, and he has lacked tactical nous under pressure.


Lancaster promised a bold England style, playing to an overall structure but then with the players given licence to leap off and use their talents and individual judgments to attack.

That was the theory, and yet England have played regularly as a team in the throes of death by coaching, they have been apparently over-programmed, and the philosophies have been quietly forgotten.

Indeed, it has often been almost impossible to work out what England were trying to do, and there have been serious doubts that the team have taken the field with any form of clear purpose.


Until the end, Lancaster insisted the team were full of leaders. Who? There was no evidence of it.

When England had to make the call of their careers against Wales near the end of the game, shot at goal or line-out, a babbling talking shop was formed.

At the end, it was hard to disagree with former England captain Will Carling's conclusion that it was more a coach-and-schoolboy relationship, rather than the coach setting the team free to work things out for themselves.


England's development strategy has been so hopelessly wrong for so long.

The pathway keeps on throwing up England teams who are too young, have too few caps and lose too much confidence when they are trying to learn international rugby on the hoof.

With an average age of 26.2, England had the youngest side at this World Cup. And the side averaged just 25 caps.

Around two-thirds of the current England squad were capped too early; they should have been left to grow in their club teams and hit international rugby only when they could do so with authority.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 05, 2015, with the headline 'What went wrong?'. Print Edition | Subscribe