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Clive Woodward Explains How Ireland Have Become So Much Better Than England

Clive Woodward Explains How Ireland Have Become So Much Better Than England
By Gary Connaughton Updated
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While Ireland have hit new heights in recent times in terms of their performance levels, it is clear that England have been trending in the opposite direction.

The English began to stagnate to a frightening degree towards the tail end of the Eddie Jones era, and while it was hoped that the sacking of the Australian would reinvigorate the side, there have been few signs that this will be the case.

Their decline has only continued under Steve Borthwick. After a poor Six Nations campaign, they would be played off the park by Ireland during their recent Rugby World Cup warmup game. They would then hit a new low the following week, losing to Fiji at Twickenham.

A favourable draw at this year's World Cup means that England still have a reasonable chance at going on a long run at the tournament, but that would only serve to mask the larger issues with rugby in the country.

Clive Woodward identifies gap between Ireland & England


Possessing the largest playing pool in the world and having more resources at their disposal than any other nation, it has been remarkable to see the way England have dipped off in recent times.

Successive head coaches have been blamed for that, but their problems come from the top. They have fallen well behind the likes of France and Ireland when it comes to maximising the talent at their disposal.

Writing in the Daily Mail, former England head coach Clive Woodward has identified the areas that English rugby needs to improve upon if they are to catch up with those nations.


One of our ski coaches showed me an interview with France head coach Fabien Galthie. It was brilliant. It made me wish I was a player again. And French, too!

Galthie talked about France embracing their Gallic emotion and intuition...

Galthie went on to say that when a player does create a 'special' moment, it is the responsibility of the rest of the team to match them and embrace the freedom. He calls it the 'French Flower'.

This sort of approach has always been at the heart of French rugby. On occasion, we have had it in England too but, criminally, it has been largely stamped out. Most coaches in England prefer a structured, attritional game.

Ireland have found a good mix of the two. Not only does their international team have a well-defined, exciting identity, but that style of play is coached at regional, club, age group and even school level.

In England, we are miles behind but are not without hope. France spent years underperforming but the prospect of a home World Cup forced them into radical change. The RFU need to take heed and do likewise, but I'm not sure they have the strength of leadership to do so.

Any such changes have certainly come far too late for this year's Rugby World Cup, with the process of improving the overall quality of rugby in England likely to be a long and protracted one.

For those watching from Ireland, it's fair to say they wouldn't mind seeing their neighbours continue to struggle for another while yet.

SEE ALSO: Brian O'Driscoll Relieved That We Won't See Repeat Of 2023 Rugby World Cup Issue

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