Australia will always lift when it plays England. So it was strange that so many people seemed surprised that Australia were victorious in England’s do or die Rugby World Cup match. Especially when you consider that the Australian rugby team has not lost a game when the World Cup Tournament has had a British host.
There are some who are saying that Australia were inspired by the comments made by former England fly half Danny Cipriani, who claimed not one Australia player was good enough to play for England. Australia did not need motivation for this game.
Cipriani may have got under the skin of some fans, but not many players will have give his comments any credence. After all despite a turbulent time in Super Rugby with the Melbourne Rebels, Cipriani’s game improved as a result of his time down under.
Before giving his comments any credibility one has to look at who Cipriani was writing for. He was writing on the Paddy Power blog, a betting outlet.
So were his comments purely to stir up the Australians who in the main dismissed them as ludicrous or was there an ulterior motive behind them? Were this comments made to try and stir up punters and make them place more money on the game?
When one takes into account that Australia has won two World Cups – both in Britain – been runners up, and placed third and fourth once compared to England’s one victory, two runners up medals and one fourth place finish, there is very little to choose between the two sides.
To take his column beyond any level of credibility and add fuel to the argument that he was also trying to gee up potential English punters was his defence of Rugby League convert Sam Burgess. Stuart Lancaster took a punt including Burgess in his squad at a time when he is still not totally versed in the nuances of rugby union. It was a risk that did not pay off.
Former Irish international Gordon D’Arcy along with many other ex international slammed Burgess’s performances, labelling them “embarrassing” and “naive.” Which in truth seemed on the money.
Cipriani fought back saying “What he was quoted in the papers as saying isn’t accurate, Sam Burgess wasn’t embarrassing at all in the Wales game. He did a great job at 12 with all the pressure that was put on him.” He wrote, and then added “It’s great that D’Arcy is adding fuel to the fire and sparking debate, but you can’t seriously believe that that is what he truly believes? Don’t read into what D’Arcy said, Burgess had a very good game.”
The truth is there was so much wrong with England. They lacked any invention any creative players who could turn a game. They looked like a robotic team playing by rite from a coaching manual. In fact to show how out of kilter Cipriani’s comments were many rugby scribes in the UK were asking how many England players would win a place in a Lions team if they had to pick a side now.
The key thing is to look at where such articles are being published and by whom. Cipriani obviously wanted to gain favour again with the England hierarchy, but one feels his comments had far more to do with stirring up a market for the people who were paying him to write.