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Is the England rugby team in a state of decline?

19th February 2020

In the blink of an eye, England have gone from beating the world champions New Zealand in a World Cup semi-final to looking out of sorts. Prior to beating Scotland, it had been two defeats on the bounce for Eddie Jones’ men which few would have predicted after it seemed a certainty that they would win the World Cup. Sport has a way of being fickle but it has to be said, this is one of the crueler lessons in humility that this England team will probably ever face.

And there was just a hint that frustration could indeed be boiling beneath the surface after an incident during England’s loss to France in Paris. Just after French captain Charles Ovillon scored his second try of the game, Cornwall’s Luke Cowan-Dickie came charging in and managed to land an elbow on the player. Cowan-Dickie’s actions sparked a huge melee and it was during this altercation between the two sides that you just got the feeling that England were beginning to lose their heads a bit. 

rugby

Now, whether that is down to the last few months of disappointment or just an accident that does take place on a rugby field, it’s hard to tell. As the Six Nations goes on we will find out more but interestingly enough, punters still see England as the team to beat. That is at least what the rugby odds on the Betfair exchange say given that when you bet on the Six Nations winner you will see England still out ahead at 9/4. This is always quite a good market to gauge what public opinion is and right now, the feeling is that England are still the team to beat. 

This all suggests that the show of anger at the Stade de France was a one-off with England set to regroup and go again in the hope of trying to dethrone 2019 Six Nations champions Wales. There does seem to be an element of truth to that, especially when you have a look at who the perceived ‘culprit' was, none other than Corwall’s Luke Cowan-Dickie. 

Indeed, these incidents can happen it must be said, especially after a player has just grounded the ball during a try. Cowan-Dickie doesn’t necessarily have a bad disciplinary record either and almost always plays the game in the right spirit, which can’t be said for most props or hookers around the world game. The hooker role in rugby is incredibly combative with players often squaring up after a big hit and players like Cowan-Dickie are at the coal face a lot more than others on the pitch. Every so often, tempers can flare.

With that being said, England need that aggression from Luke Cowan-Dickie given that he is one of the young players that will be central to everything England do over the next four years as they build-up to the World Cup in 2023. It’s important that the man born in Truro, keeps England from being bullied on the park by laying down the law to the opposition props, but the emphasis must be on channeling that aggression and staying away from cheap shots.

Posted by Mark at 7:28pm

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