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Telfer tells England off

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 07:48
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If they had played another five times, the All Blacks would have won them all
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The Rugby Football Union were preparing to receive a review co-authored by Ian McGeechan, just as his fellow Scotland great Jim Telfer slammed England for "not being as good as they think they are".

The five-month review, commissioned following the fall-out from England's disastrous 2011 World Cup campaign in New Zealand, is due to be presented to the RFU management board on Wednesday.

It was overseen by former Scotland and British and Irish Lions coach McGeechan and Peter Keen, the man whose work as UK Sport performance director helped lay the platform for Britain's 19 golds at the Beijing Olympics and 29 in London last year.

Since a World Cup where England - the 2015 hosts - became better known for their off-field drinking exploits than their rugby and crashed out limply in the quarter-finals, Stuart Lancaster has taken over as head coach.

Previously in charge of the England Saxons, Lancaster's back-to-basics approach re-asserted the need for a connection between elite players and grassroots rugby.

Significantly, he has also overseen a period of sound results starting with a second place finish in last season's Six Nations before England rounded off 2012 with a stunning, record-breaking, 38-21 win over New Zealand at Twickenham.

But Telfer, a hard taskmaster who was Lions coach in 1983 and McGeechan's deputy during the victorious 1997 Lions tour of South Africa, was unimpressed, although it may be no coincidence his broadside came just days ahead of England and Scotland's 2013 Six Nations opener at Twickenham on Saturday.

"England are not as good as they think they are," Telfer told Tuesday's Daily Mail.

"They were really up for it against New Zealand, very physical against a tired team.

"If they had played another five times, the All Blacks would have won them all," he added.

"You have to retain perspective. In their favour is the coaching team of Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree (forwards coach) and Andy Farrell (backs coach). All from the North [of England] and all down to earth.

"They will not let that victory go to their heads."

However, Telfer could not resist a swipe at England's players, traditionally characterised as 'arrogant' by their Celtic rivals.

"The players are a different matter, people like Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi," insisted Telfer.

"They are young, very impressionable and they think what they read is all true. There are the makings of a good squad, but it is not good at the moment.

"Like the English football team, a couple of wins and they think they are world-beaters."

Telfer added: "Unless they are careful they will end up playing in a very English way. The way Saracens play. Pretty boring. The Northampton way. Boring.
"It is all about forward domination, and the irony is that England have some bloody good backs," added Telfer in a rare word of praise for the auld enemy.

AFP

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