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Robinson says team ignored coaching orders in Irish defeat

England's gameplan
England's tactical dossier

Posted March 20th, 2006

England head coach Andy Robinson has claimed that his players ignored direct coaching orders in England’s 28-24 defeat to Ireland.

Responding to media and fan criticism over England’s lack of creativity, Robinson took the unusual step of publicly rebuking his team.

The England chief is under huge pressure after his team finished fourth after another mediocre Six Nations campaign. In a press conference, held at Twickenham on Monday evening, he revealed that his players had ‘clearly failed’ to implement the game plan he and his assistants had developed.

‘I unmistakably told our players to pass, run into someone, recycle, pass, run into someone, recycle, pass twice and then run into someone,’ said the former England flanker. ‘If we got it back again we were to pass it and look for someone to run into. In other words, pass, bash, pass, bash, pass, pass, bash, pass, bash, etc. However, we clearly went, pass, pass, bash, pass, pass, bash, pass, bash. That, you can see, is a totally different sequence of passing and bashing. I can’t help it if the players are failing to implement the tactical orders we have worked on.’

Robinson then produced some a few envelopes and a couple of beer mats on which he had laid out his strategy for the Six Nations. Holding the scraps to the assembled journalists, he pointed to the diagrams: ‘See, right there. Pass, bash, pass, bash, pass, pass, bash. Does that look like pass, pass, bash, pass, pass, bash, pass, bash to you?’

Rugby Football Union officials, however, have reacted with caution to Robinson’s words. ‘At the end of the day,’ said an RFU spokesperson, ‘the head coach is the one responsible for making sure his players pass, bash and bash again in the correct sequence. The RFU will obviously be talking about these latest revelations in our next committee meeting. We will include any documents, envelopes or beer mats that Andy wishes us to consider as evidence.’

The defeat has led to a clamour of calls for Robinson’s head from former players and certain figures in the media, but the England coach is standing firm: ‘It’s all about the bish, bash, bosh. Once we get that right, everything else will look after itself.’

One English player, who wished to remain anonymous, told The East Terrace that some of the beer mats were illegible: ‘Look, one of them was soggy from the beer spillage and some of the boshes looked like passes and some of the passes looked like bashes. We tried our best.’