With the final whistle of the final match of this years Six Nation’s championship we find that the rugby masses in the United Kingdom have found some sort of sanity.
The heady days of victorious English rugby and the 18 consecutive tier 1 international victories by the men in white, plus the speculation about whether they are the best rugby team on the planet, has all come to a screeching halt.
Firstly has everyone forgotten that Cyprus holds the record for consecutive international victories at 24 with 18 being the number for tier one nations. And secondly, thanks to the brave men from the Emerald Isles who dismissed the English as one would dismiss an underling, this current English rugby team is no longer being called a great team. Great teams become great by winning important matches. The world cup winning English team of 2003 are a great team. The All Blacks of 2011 and 2015 who won back to back World Cups are a great team and the Sri Lankan Cricket team of 1996 are a great team. This year’s English Rugby team are not a great team they are just good.
The English were not even close to crossing the Irish try line let alone beating Ireland in Dublin last weekend.
When can England say they are the greatest Rugby nation in the world? It is a title New Zealand has held for a number of years and it will take an extraordinary run of performances to replace them at the top. England have won just once in the last 15 meetings with the All Blacks.
The best from the Home Nations, in the form of the British and Irish Lions, head down to the Shaky Isles this June to take on New Zealand. They will play all five Super Rugby franchises, a provincial selection, the New Zealand Maori, as well as three test matches. If England want to take the place of New Zealand as the top rugby nation on the planet then the might of the English Rugby administration should organise a tour of this magnitude for Eddie Jones and his English roses. Then and only then will the New Zealand rugby public consider them more than just pretenders.
Instead the English Rugby administration are wishing to buy a match against the All Blacks on a date where a match has been scheduled against the Barbarians. This year is the 125th anniversary year for the Barbarian Football Club, a rugby team whose membership is by invitation and whose only considerations for qualification is the players rugby skill and their gentlemanly conduct on and off the field. Let us hope that money does not trump tradition and the game with the Baa baas is played when it was originally agreed to by both the English and New Zealand rugby unions.
As one swallow does not a summer make, winning one game against the All Blacks does not make a team great. Especially when the All Blacks are at the end of a long and arduous season after their players began playing Super Rugby in March, hosted the Lions in June / July and travelled twice around the planet during the Rugby Championship. To then steal a game from the Baa baas so the English can say they are the best in the world is too absurd. With the loss against Ireland putting an end to all of those fanciful delusions of grandeur we can return to the normal world order. All Blacks at the top, daylight second with Ireland and England fighting with Australia for third. If you think that sentence is absurd you should look at the record books and get back to me.