After England’s record breaking win over the All Blacks last Saturday it would be criminal for me not to talk about the game, but with this being a column about junior rugby at Scarborough I was struggling to come up with what would link the two.
But when I sat down to write this I realised that there were many things that link our grassroots rugby and England’s performances in the autumn internationals.
England’s win was built around a desire in defence and their line speed was relentless throughout the game which forced the All Blacks into making uncharacteristic mistakes.
This defensive performance came from a desire to play for the shirt, which has been missing in seasons past.
The current crop of England’s coaching staff all have a passion for English rugby which is built from strong amateur upbringings with Stuart Lancaster still having strong links with West Park Leeds and regularly helping out with coaching sessions there.
If you ask around Silver Royd on a Sunday morning, I’m sure you’ll find most people are proud of what England accomplished and most players would give anything to play for their country; something which they now have in common with the current England crop.
The second common link is the ‘No Fear’ factor. Only three members of England’s starting XV had ever previously faced the Haka, which meant the players in key positions could go out and play without fear and enjoy their rugby.
No matter what rugby ground you go to on a Sunday morning the children playing all have the same philosophy about the game and at all levels kids turn out in wind, rain or shine because they love to play.
The same thing looks like it’s happening with the England lads. The team ethos has returned, no longer do we have individuals thinking that they’re bigger than the team. Everybody wants to put their body on the line for their country which again comes from a hard work and desire.
The Kiwis have always been leaders in world rugby, the current crop have dictated the way rugby has developed over the past few years and in my opinion rugby has now evolved into a game where all 15 players have the ability to pass, catch, run, ruck and maul and the All Blacks were the first to show the world this.
In attack we’ve seen backs involved in catch and drive line-outs, forwards running in from the half way line and in defence we’ve seen a change in the types of props being produced.
No longer are props big guys who are purely on the field for the scrimmage. For example Dan Cole, England’s tight-head from Saturday, was like an extra back row player making tackles all around the park and ‘out-Richie McCawing’ Richie McCaw.
Over many of our younger age groups, players have sometimes been type cast into positions because of their size or athletic ability.
This is something that we at the club are addressing and giving all players the opportunity to scrummage by training all our players to play in the front row and selecting the closest six players to compete in the scrums.
Finally, the foundations of this victory came from the experiences picked up in the two recent defeats to Australia and South Africa.
We have a young and inexperienced team with a rookie test captain and it’s important to remember that this victory is not something which magically turns us into the best team in the world, but rather gives all the players the belief that the Kiwis are human and beatable.
As England are learning and rebuilding for a new era of players coming through, many of our sides here at Scarborough are doing the same.
Learning from previous mistakes and defeats is helping build stronger teams across all of our age groups.