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Times Journalist Gets Severe Flack Following Criticism Of Cipriani And Henson

Times Journalist Gets Severe Flack Following Criticism Of Cipriani And Henson
By Maurice Brosnan Updated

Matthew Syed's Times column has once again created controversy.

The piece, titled "Why Jonny Wilkinson realised his potential and Danny Cipriani didn’t" analyses the role of confidence in sporting performance and argues the reason Cipriani and former Wales centre Gavin Henson failed to live up to their potential is that their arrogance resulted in a lack of "sufficient need to knuckle down in practice."

Danny Cipriani was active on Twitter, in clear disagreement with Syed's take:

Syed wrote:

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Instead of continuous improvement, which can be driven only by a realistic appraisal of one’s weaknesses, they had lifestyles of continuous self-gratification. This undermined their ability to perform for club and country, creating self-doubt at the very moment they needed self-assurance. Their problem was not a lack of talent. Their problem is that — like so many other athletes who failed to live up to expectation — they applied swagger to the wrong part of the cycle.

Arrogance when practising; self-doubt when executing.

Various figures actually involved in the game have lept to the players' defence in response to Syed's attack, including Henson's current coach at the Dragons, Bernard Jackman:

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This is not the first time Syed has received criticism following an article.

Last August Syed wrote a piece defending former English ladies football manager Mark Sampson. Eni Aluko had alleged Sampson had made racist remarks towards her, including remarking that Aluko should make sure her visiting Nigerian family "don’t come over with Ebola."

Syed originally defended the comments:

The Ebola comment could have been a misjudged joke, assuming it was actually said, which Sampson denies. It might have reflected genuine fear, given the Ebola outbreak was at its height at the time.

Aluko was vindicated last month at a parliamentary hearing which outlined the shambolic FA handling of the entire case. The FA issued a public apology for their treatment of Aluko, including hiring a black actor to act badly in a role-playing exercise to demonstrate to the players what isn't "lioness behaviour."

Syed penned a column in the aftermath of the hearing titled "FA treated Aluko appallingly but be careful about calling someone a racist."

Aluko took particular issue with Syed's coverage:

Should you wish to read it, Syed's piece is here, although it is no longer free access.

SEE ALSO: Taoiseach Takes Unexpected Dig At South Africa's Rugby World Cup Bid

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