Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Does size really matter?

Now I know where most of you may of thought I was going with the title but minds out of the gutter now, the question is about the English rugby team!

Aswell as an avid Bath fan I'm also a passionate Englishman and the general rule that to play for England you must be 6'+,built like a brick outhouse and run like Usain Bolt worries me we're becoming a one directional team.

Where has the little jinky runs to find space gone? Its all crash ball running straight trying to puncture the opponent's defence. English rugby is almost starting to resemble a glorified variant of rugby league, take the tackle recycle and continue, only you get more than five tackles but eventually kick the ball away!

It's wrong to compare the two but I'm going to anyway but amateur and professional rugby are almost two different sports. The brilliance of rugby was regardless of your shape and size there was a place on the park for you. Slightly rotund you were a prop, small guy punchy slight mental disposition your a hooker (Brian Moore), big old lofty one second row, short a*** who can run through others legs was a scrum half and so on but you get the point. Whereas now normally lining up in the White shirt bearing the proud Red Rose the only one prominently still with that prowess is the scrum half.

Yes having big ball carriers is good a two man tackle draws space, if the ball is quick, but somebody with quick feet to back that up surely is a bonus. Different varieties of players makes it harder to defend against. Looking at this as a size comparative exercise would the likes of Jason Robinson, Jeremy Guscott, Phil DeGlanville or even the Underwoods get into the current line up. Yes OK different era's but they are huge English stars and to many hero's. They had talent in abundance, so why in this day and age do we depict you have to be a big lad over talent to get picked? What is this teaching our future players in minis and juniors rugby?

Sharples was possibly the only squad member who went with the Michael Flatley dancing feet but has now been released back to his club. A baffling thought I've struggled with, and I've mentioned it before, why isn't somebody of Tom Biggs ilk in the squad? Somebody with pace to burn, can turn and track back but also tackle anything that moves. Biggs is a guy who punches way above his weight and plays with passion, can we say the same about Chris Ashton? But due to Biggs size he is again and again overlooked.

For my own worry that talented children will look at the English team (hopefully not in purple) and think 'I'm not big enough to represent my country' and lose interest in taking the game to the next level. We could lose a generation of talent and see rugby turn into an elitist sport rather than the welcoming game it is.

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