That history sure does echo

Robot rugby is squeezing out free spirits like rebel Finn Russell

Well, yes. Barnes, when playing, was rather the free spirit and was markedly short of caps given the manner in which Rob Andrew, a more robotic player (his excuse being that he played the way he was told to by the coach) gained many more caps.

This being something that Barnes himself notes of course:

I empathise with Russell. It’s a lifetime ago but I recall an England team meeting. I was asked what I would do when we threw a ball to the back of the lineout and crossed the gainline with a battering-ram runner. I suggested I might look up and see where the opposing defenders were before making any decision. Wrong answer. A few of the lads laughed. I hadn’t been paying sufficient attention to the pre-ordained plan.

That year I walked out on England and missed the first World Cup.

16 thoughts on “That history sure does echo”

  1. Chubby Barnes still bitter, eh?

    There’s always a divide in rugby between the creative and the organised. Generally the creatives look great on the highlights reel but are also inclined to give away too many points. Especially in these professional days, it is safety first.

    I’m a bit divided; I’m glad we had Andrew rather than Barnes in the 80s but I’d like Cippers to have a go now, even if only to give teh team a genuine plan B. It won’t happen.

    The Russell story seems to be complicated by a dispute his father had with the SRU. Shame, Russell is the best Jock player by a mile.

  2. In attacking situations Barry John often didn’t know what he was going to do until the ball was in his hands.

    Barry John was an all-time great.

    Rob Andrew was a good player, but certainly not an all-time great.

    The Rob Andrew/Stuart Barnes debate was about a philosophy of play. I would always have picked Barnes.

  3. Bloke in North Dorset

    Russel’s crimes aren’t being a free spirit on the field, if reports are to be believed, they’re being a free spirit off it and enjoying a few beers more than allowed in the training regime.

    I’m with MC on Cips, he wouldn’t have proved Einstein’s definition of insanity at the start of the 2nd half on Saturday. That kicking straight in to touch was dumb, they had the first half watching the Scots do it.

  4. I’d like Cippers to have a go now

    I’d like Cipriani kept as far away from the England team as possible. It’s bad enough having him in the Gloucester team.

    There’ve been a couple of times when England came this –> <– close to losing to Italy. Both times Cipriani’s belief in his own talent vastly overreached his skill and gifted the opposition easy tries. No more, thanks.

  5. Rob Andrew was even more fortunate to get the nod for an entire era when you think his goal kicking was actually quite weak Stuart Barnes was a game changing kicker, one of the first to use a specialist kicking coach which got him another 10 yards or so The problem with Barnes was his real defensive weakness and, arguably, weaker kicking out of hand. I would have gone for Barnes but it was a close call and that’s sport for you.
    Current England selection in the threes has far worse problems. Why oh why oh why will England not pick Dan Robson at scrum half what on earth has Furbank done to deserve such an easy ride and why this determination not to give Thorley a chance on the wing

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    Robson hasn’t been playing well for Wasps although recently he’s been getting his old form back. It also appears that EJ doesn’t think the current crop of young No9s don’t have leadership skillls, as if Young’s does.

  7. Barnes wasn’t as good as people like to pretend. Harry Randall at Bristol would be worth a look IMO but a number of the best 9s in the Prem are foreigners.

  8. Rugby is much easier if you pass the ball to people who are already in forward motion. I have no idea why such a basic idea has been neglected. The Boks didn’t neglect it in the World Cup.

  9. @Bloke in Wales
    I am not an expert on Rugby – but there are those like David Flatman who are great fans of Ciprani. I would guess his off field stupidity is more of a handicap than anything else.

  10. Interestingly I agree with Newmania on the Andrew/ Barnes choice. Watching England in both the five nations and World cup between 1985 and 1988 (my formative Rugby years) was a pretty wretched experience as they were tactically inept and Andrew was a huge part of that. Indeed one of my abiding memories of the otherwise dire 1988 Five nations was the spectacle against Ireland of replacement scrum half Richard Harding bypassing Andrew to go directly to the centres and the wingers, leading to 32 unanswered points in a 35-3 rout, a result which set the blueprint for a decade of more expansive England performances, including a ‘reformed’ Andrew obviously…….

  11. Rob Andrew’s crowning glory was the first 20 minutes of the 1994 test against the Boks at Loftus Versfeld (I was there). England played the best rugby I’ve ever seen them play and to do it in the Afrikaner citadel was outstanding, the Bok team and fans were stunned.

  12. Bloke in North Dorset

    EJ does seem to have a blind-spot when it comes to Goode, one that seems to baffle most fans, or at least the ones I know. Marcus Smith isn’t as good as Ford or Farrell at 10 but it won’t be long.

  13. Inability to adjust and just stick to the game plan does seem to have been an England problem for quite a while.
    That said if Wales keep making basic mistakes like they did against Ireland the rest of the Six Nations is going to be gloomy.

  14. Goode is too upright when running, lacks gas and isn’t a great defender. He’s had chances and didn’t do much. That said, we are still searching for a top class 15 and have been for a decade or so.

  15. BBC has feature on how do you stop concussions in women’s rugby, the simple answer to that would seem to be if you don’t want to risk concussion don’t play a contact sport.

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