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Pommy bashing

Mark Keohane 9/8/07

England beat an awfully depleted Welsh team and theyíre World Cup champs again. And they wonder why the rest of the world canít stand them.

So, three years of English misery is wiped away by one summer afternoon touch rugby session against a Welsh team missing 13 first-team regulars and another 12 second-team drifters.

Funny how when the All Blacks or Springboks hammer third-rate opposition the English media, in particular, are quick to write up the flattering nature of All Blacks and Springbok wins in these matches.

Then again this is the same patriotic media who lauded a 21-point defeat against the All Blacks at Twickenham in 2006 as the start of the English revival and the end of an All Blacks era.

When those same All Blacks destroyed the British and Irish Lions the year before the message in the United Kingdom was for all of the north to take heart.

The Lions did well to come within 20 points of the All Blacks in the last Test. Who dared challenge these beasts?

A fortnight later the Springboks knocked over the beast in Cape Town. It put the Lions series into perspective.

Every time the English play the All Blacks and lose, like when 13 New Zealanders were still too strong for 15 Englishmen in 2005, the drum roll starts with a bang of how vulnerable the All Blacks are but within a fortnight of the Six Nations it is a whimper again as England have crashed to one of Ireland, France, Scotland or a full-strength Wales.

Now we have the bleating again after a training run against 15 Welshmen who lacked the substance or presence of 15 branded tackle bags.

If you want to know the quality of Welsh team that played at Twickenham you only have to make the comparison in team identity to the side hammered 45-10 by the All Blacks in Cardiff last year.

That side was the best the Welsh could put on the field. Thatís the one that has been wrapped in cotton wool for the World Cup and thatís the side that beat England in the Six Nations.

The Welsh team that lost 31-0 to Australia in Brisbane earlier this year contained just two of the cotton-wool club and the side thrashed at Twickenham on Saturday also had two (different names) from the first team.

Of the 13 remaining second stringers hammered in Brisbane, none made it to Twickenham.

It has not deterred the English from ďdaring to dreamĒ, to quote one of the fans armed with a laptop and media accreditation.

England, chumps for the last three years, are again champs in waiting.

The record defeats in South Africa are history. So too the seventh place world ranking. Champions, mate. Thatís what Iíve been told. Swing Low Sweet ChariotÖ

And the singing may even continue against France at Twickenham this Saturday, depending on which French team arrives for this nuisance match.

That match, like the Welsh romp, will reveal little in relation to the World Cup. It is how England goes in France a week later that will calm the Boks or increase their blood pressure for the September 14 battle in Paris.

England, in Marseilles against France, will make a World Cup statement to the Boks or theyíll write a note of surrender.

I know which to expect, and itís not the one that inspires their sycophantic media or encourages their supporters to Ďdare to dreamí.

Marseilles is the city the Boks must conquer in the quarter-finals to get back to Paris for the play-offs, and itís where the English dream will be crushed before the tournament even starts.


MARK KEOHANE | keo.co.za | Thursday, 9 August 2007 | Comment on this article

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Mark Keohane

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