Anorak News | Jonny Is Good

Jonny Is Good

by | 17th, November 2003

‘THERE is no doubt who the papers think is responsible for England’s place in next weekend’s Rugby World Cup final – Jonny Wilkinson makes it onto the front page of all the broadsheet papers this morning.

Can England finally win on penalties?

But the sports pages offer a more balanced opinion, with the Guardian awarding Matt Dawson and Phil Vickery higher marks than the magical number ten.

These post-match player ratings are so subjective as to be completely worthless but they are interesting only as evidence that all of us watch a different game from everyone else.

The Indy, for instance, gives Neil Back top billing, while captain Martin Johnson (with whom, in the Guardian’s eyes, it looks like time is catching up) is “feisty and fiery”.

What is agreed is that England were highly impressive in subduing the in-form French side in appalling conditions in Sydney.

The fact that they failed to score a try is of interest only to the Australian media, who seem to have forgotten that in far better conditions on Saturday the only Aussie try was a 75-meter interception.

The Times calls England’s 24-7 victory “so accomplished and expertly executed that they rendered their shaky early-tournament form almost irrelevant”.

The Telegraph praises England’s character and resolve while suggesting that France “all but disintegrated” in the Sydney monsoon.

And it does mean that we have the dream final, the one that England coach Clive Woodward has always wanted and predicted – England v Australia.

We are sure that next weekend England’s rugby players will show far more character and resolve than their footballers did yesterday in losing 3-2 at home to Denmark.

Once again, Sven Goran Eriksson’s team have shown that they do not know how to play friendly matches, their excellent record in competitive games contrasting sharply with some fairly appalling results in friendlies.

Twice England led but Denmark equalised twice before scoring a deserved second-half winner in a match whose relevance is already open to question.

In the Telegraph, Alan Smith (not the banned Alan Smith) suggests that the performance of Joe Cole was a big plus.

The Times is not so sure, suggesting that Cole’s game still lacks depth and maturity – a thought echoed by Eriksson himself.

“The quality he has is unbelievable,” he said. “He is a great, great talent, but needs to learn things about the game.”

The same cannot be said of England’s massively experienced rugby players who next weekend hope to emulate the footballers of 1966 in becoming World Champions for the first time.’

Posted: 17th, November 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink