Will Carling launched a withering critique of Stuart Lancaster's coaching regime this week, accusing the coach of creating a 'classroom environment' and treating the players like 'schoolboys'.
Carling's analysis has succeeded in annoying the hell out of many within the current England setup. Scrum half Richard Wigglesworth made little effort to disguise his contempt.
They (England's critics) are not living it and doing it and I ain’t bothered. They annoy me, piss me off and I am not going to say they don’t. I am just indifferent to how ridiculous some of their chat is.
Carling's greatest days for England were back in the 'shamateurism' era of the late 80s and early 90s. Wigglesworth is dubious the old man credentials as far as the modern game goes.
But if he doesn’t know and hasn’t played the game for how long and hasn’t been involved in professional rugby for how long, let’s have a meaningful discussion about his knowledge, about what he knows about the game. He is there to further his own career and good luck to him.
Andy Farrell dismissed the comments outright when calling for England to adopt a siege mentality heading into the Australia match. He proceeded to launch a Terry Butcher-esque rallying call, although trying to rally patriotic fervour in a room full of detached journalists is a tall order.
It’s disappointing, especially from someone who has not been in the environment. I’ve been involved in many environments as a player and as a coach. This environment is as good an environment as I’ve seen. It allows players to express themselves and get better as players and leaders. I don’t buy into that [criticism] whatsoever.
Let’s go for it, we’re English aren’t we? We’re English, that’s what I’d like to see. Do we all want to do well in this competition? Do we know what’s at stake this weekend? Of course we do. Let’s get behind the team, everyone, let’s help them. Let’s get a feelgood factor throughout the country and let’s do this together.
Jonny May disputed Carling's central contention that Lancaster is dominating everything and preventing his players from emerging as leaders.
The coaching team is the best I’ve ever had and Stuart’s only ever been fair to me. I couldn’t learn more than in this environment. It’s not fair to say they’re like school teachers. In fact it’s quite player-led.