Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Andy Robinson = Harold Macmillan

Analogies between politics and rugby are relatively rare, but England coach Andy Robinson's decision to axe six players for Saturday's match against Ireland calls to mind Harold Macmillan’s Night of the Long Knives in 1962 when he sacked a third of his Cabinet – “the wrong third” according to Tory wits of the time.

Josh Lewsey appears to be taking the rap for the collision with Jamie Noon which led to the first French try. Yet Lewsey is a proven world class performer while Noon is merely a good premiership player who has been the persistent beneficiary of Robinson’s absurd favouritism.

Bringing in Stuart Abbott at inside centre is a start, but it would have been much better to have seen the hugely talented Ollie Smith alongside him.

Harry Ellis has been tried and failed at scrum-half – why isn’t Shaun Perry being given a chance? And why is that lolloping great tub of lard Ben Cohen still even in the squad?

Upfront, the return of Andrew Sheridan is a belated admission that it was wrong to drop him against France, but the back row still looks totally unbalanced. Moody should move to 6 with Sanderson or Lund at 7, while Chris Jones would be a much more useful back-row bench option than Dallaglio.

Macmillan’s purge failed to save his job in the longer-run, and this won’t save Robinson’s either. As someone said on Planet Rugby: "I've seen better selections left at the bottom of a Cadbury's Roses tin on Boxing Day."

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