If England’s rugby team is run in a similar way to the RFU’s higher echelons, Martin Johnson and Co. should not even bother boarding their flight to New Zealand in seven weeks’ time. Thankfully, the differences between the planning side and the playing side and startling.
The latest shambolic episode in the battle for power at the very top of the game’s governing body was played out at HQ this week.
With no chief executive since the sacking of John Steele in June, chairman Martyn Thomas was the latest to fall on his sword following the critical findings of the RFU’s chief disciplinary officer, Judge Jeff Blackett.
Worse was to come when Blackett himself started to question his own position after Thomas blocked the publication of what was clearly a very damning report into the way the RFU was being run. It has still not been seen.
It is hard to imagine a bigger c*ck up than what is currently going in the halls of power with everyone involved looking over their shoulders and worrying about who may be next for a sword in the shoulder blades!
Incredibly, the differences between that carry-on and the planning and conditioning going on in the 45-man training squad at Pennyhill Park in Surrey, could not be more different. Johnson and his assistants run a tight ship in leafy suburbia.
The 10 weeks they have together before the opening game against Argentina on September 10 will allow the squad to blend, bond and get so used to what they are trying to do that it should be second nature by the time they slip on the white short for the first time in New Zealand. The three warm-up games in August against Wales (twice) and Ireland will help the management tweak their final plans and make it easier for them to pick certain players and jettison certain others before they set off for Down Under.
England will leave with a good squad, an attractive style of play and in good shape as they try and reach a third consecutive World Cup final. If only the men in suits were in such rude health!