Do Not Sell My Personal Information
RugbyDump RugbyDump
Monday Nov 2, 2015

Nick Abendanon says England players not backing overseas selection policy is 'pathetic'

Nick Abendanon says England players not backing overseas selection policy is 'pathetic'
38
Comments

England became the first ever host nation to drop out of their own Rugby World Cup before reaching the knockout stages, prompting many fans and media to partly pin the blame on the fact that the RFU still maintains that they will not pick players based outside of England.

They came up short, and while their are many arguments for and against, Australia is a country that proved they can get it right by thinking outside the box and bringing back the talent available to them. Both Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, who play with Steffon Armitage at Toulon, were outstanding at this RWC.

Nick Abendanon, the Clermont based former England fullback, is one who might have been brought into the squad had flexible policies been in place. He’s spoken out about it, as featured on BT Sport’s weekly rugby show, Rugby Tonight.

“You know, he [coach Stuart Lancaster] never had to pick us but I think he should’ve brought the guys in to make sure that his players pick it up another level,” said Abendanon.

“To hear some players say ‘ah we shouldn’t pick international players because it will unsettle the squad’, I mean that to me is pathetic, that should be something that would motivate you even more to want to keep your place.”

What do you make of Abendanon’s comments?

Rugby Tonight airs every Monday evening on BT Sport 1 at 8pm

38 Comments

  • jimmy23
    10:22 AM 09/11/2015

    I don't think he can retain his captaincy, the game against Wales showed that he's not really up to the task. When things started to go tits up he looked utterly lost and it's those moments that the captain is supposed to stand up. If it was Martin Johnson in that position he would have slapped some sense into the team and told them to stop throwing the game away. I just wonder if he should be moved to 6, that way he can just concentrate on his game and not worry about making big decisions.

    Reply
  • drg
    8:31 PM 08/11/2015

    Begs the question what will happen to Robshaw... he easily has another RWC in him, as far as age and body is concerned... but I can't see him lasting as a captain nor as a 7... but again, what does that say about the England set up if their captain goes from top to bottom over night? Stuart Lancaster appeared to make all the right moves in his early career with England, he picked exciting players, allowed England to play exciting rugby, then somehow he's flipped everything and it's all gone seriously wrong... Will anything he implemented remain after he goes? (If he goes)

    Reply
  • dancarter
    2:23 AM 07/11/2015

    It's not as if there are that many decent English players anyway. I would probably go as far as to say that the only English players that would start for Toulon or Clermont are already playing for those clubs, i.e. Armitage + Abendanon.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:58 PM 05/11/2015

    But would that not be a typically English way of thinking? "Ok, we need to play natural, relaxed, flowing, free living rugby like the kiwis do..... how can we FORCE people to do it".... The kiwis don't have central control as far as just throwing a ball to a bunch of kids at the age of 5 and letting them figure it out.... I think they have the best set up regarding weight groupings... There is 0 point to playing a sport where at school levels it's "pass to the 13 year old that has a bigger beard than Abe Lincoln and let him run".... All comes down to getting people naturally interested in the game. Whilst the UK might have different styles throughout, take a look at another mostly successful rugby nation, South Africa... they have a very good combination. I think the main reason for these is that these nations play rugby... what is rugby? Tossing an egg around and using any way possible to get through to score a try... it's that simple.. What do they play in the UK? They play "game plans" or "certain styles of rugby".. the kiwis adapt to their surroundings and continue to play the game..

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    7:39 PM 05/11/2015

    You bring up some good points, it's probably just wishful thinking on my part. As you say, it's very hard seeing the likes of Leicester and Wasps be willing to downgrade. Don't think the fans would appreciate it either. Again, not sure how this would work, but perhaps there should be a shift to make the European tournament more of a focus for the teams rather than the domestic one? It's a higher standard yet there's only 6 rounds then it's the knock-out stages. There's 22 rounds of the Aviva Premiership till the knock-out stages and to be honest, it's been pretty dire to watch this year so far. I just can't see the Northern Hemisphere teams improving when they spend most of the year in their respective domestic tournaments. To be honest I don't think this talk of the weather is the greatest of arguments, I lived in NZ for 4 years and it wasn't THAT much better in the winter. And let's face it, even in the rain the Southern Hemisphere still manage to win most of the time.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    5:18 PM 05/11/2015

    I don't see how that would work. At the moment, the Heineken Cup is the northern equivalent of the Super 15, top teams field their best players, and put their second string out for domestic games. The Amlin Challenge is the proving ground for young players, it is the tournament where most academy lads and graduates get game time over the season. The 6 Nations is another opportunity for outsiders to get a start. I just don't see Leicester, Wasps etc. wanting to downgrade... and how would the representative teams be chosen? Geographically? NFL Draft style? Maybe Union should become a Summer Sport. The weather will encourage running rugby, and the next generation will be much more likely to give a difficult game a go when they don't have to brave the sideways rain and hail of the Great British Winter. I hated playing in the rain when i was a youngun, having bigger kids jumping on you in the rain put me off, and I wasn't alone. Some kids weren't allowed to play rugby because their parents didn't want to have to do all the kit washing.

    Reply
  • 45678
    5:06 PM 05/11/2015

    Leicester play a forward power game, bath have a structured running game, try and pick an England team from bath and Leicester and pick a style that the best players can play.....I don't think it works. add in 10 other sides and mix them together, you get the best 50 players all used to different patterns and styles 80% of the time and then expected to play differently 20% of the time. I don't think it works. The kiwis are proof that you need central control

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    4:03 PM 05/11/2015

    It baffles me why it hasn't already been done. Have the domestic league to grow and nurture new talent and have the best players from each country compacted into those select few teams to play each other week in week out. It would improve things so much.

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    3:53 PM 05/11/2015

    Also, would be a bit awkward if him or Armitage did end up getting picked in the future. "Mate, didn't you publicly slate us as pathetic?" "Uhhh..." Team bonding moments would be interesting.

    Reply
  • drg
    12:31 PM 05/11/2015

    Isn't that a very self indulgent thing though? I get the drive and the passion to play for ones country, but would you like to play for England and be the worst player in English history to pull on the white shirt? Part of me would say "yes" to play for my country... but then having the world cringe as I flail about trying to avoid a prop who is clearly gassing me would also be an extremely embarrassing chapter in my life... So yeh, sure Armitage went off to France, following the money? or whatever, but fact remains he's a better snaffler than anyone else in the English team. I'm not for picking the best without considering everything, regardless of how good Calum Clark is, I find it repulsive that he is still on a rugby pitch, however Armitage has just opted to play rugby elsewhere...

    Reply
  • danknapp
    11:39 AM 05/11/2015

    I would love to see a European wide superleague. 4 English teams, 4 French teams, 2 Irish, 2 Welsh, 1 Scottish, 1 Italian. Fast, attacking, off-loading Rugby. We've got the players for it. Toss the ball around, entertain people, get them watching it. Make rugby something to capture people's attention. No relegation, no fear, just attacking beauty. A Northern Hemisphere Super15.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:52 AM 05/11/2015

    @45678 - I think the central contracts horse bolted a number of years ago. The clubs have enough money and influence currently that they'd be mental to relinquish it. Another option is to have an independent elite entity to run the England team: http://www.bbc.com/sport/rugby-union/34727588 On the re-jig of the northern hemisphere season, I think this proposal has a lot of merit: http://www.therugbyblog.com/blueprint-for-a-new-northern-hemisphere-season-structure

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:46 AM 05/11/2015

    Well that's not really the "disruption" that the players already in camp were alluding to. It was a financial thing, where they were implying that they'd declined offers of large salaries to go to France because they were conscious of excluding themselves from England selection if they did.

    Reply
  • drg
    2:01 AM 05/11/2015

    That's quite the opposite of what I'm suggesting. Europe and British teams pretty much have the same rugby calendars... therefore there should be no issue (as long as clubs are happy to release them) with players from one country (France) coming to the UK to fulfil England International duties as in theory, that is exactly what all the UK clubs will be doing. For instance in any country they don't have Mon,Wed,Fri as club training days and Tues and Thurs as international nights... it's literally everyone vanish off to their individual clubs and then if you are playing well enough you get asked to come and train as a collective of individuals at International camp... therefore, if someone randomly strolls in having just stepped off a flight from France, it's no big deal, he's still an individual and he's not taking anyone elses place that has been training at England camp week in week out..(like my Uni example).. So really, what I'm suggesting is that whoever is in charge sods off and lets all the clubs get on with whatever they want, then when it comes to selection they pick the best bunch, rather than getting caught on politics of players playing abroad... if it fits in then use it.. All that being said, England were in an awful position and as pointed, 1 extra player would not have made a difference, however it highlights the errors in selection. Perhaps 'Exceptional circumstances' means your pond of eligible players in the UK are all injured and you need to bring outside help...

    Reply
  • drg
    11:09 PM 04/11/2015

    Goes back to the age old thing I think 10st10, Stroudos, Dan and myself have always said, the day you see people in parks opting to toss around a rugby ball rather than a football is the day you know rugby is really on the up...

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    4:55 PM 04/11/2015

    It is Chicken and Egg... do the NZ teams play like the All Blacks, or do the All Blacks play like the NZ teams? Farrell and Ford are good examples of this, like chalk and cheese. England focus too much on impact rather than team players and have to change the game plan with every substitution. Most substitutions were made when England were up against it, and again, from a sports psychology point, it is almost admitting defeat, "Plan A didn't work, they are better than us, get out there and change everything" Woodward had his critics, but he treated rugby like a game of chess. A game would be drawn up on a board, every session he would pick a different player to make the next move, a prop to decide on a backs move, an outside back calling line out moves etc... It brought the team together and made them see the bigger picture beyond their individual role, and, well... 2003 says it all.

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    4:13 PM 04/11/2015

    I think another part of the problem is mix of styles you get in the Premiership and the effect that has on the players. You have teams like Saracens, who play a more pragmatic style of rugby and teams like Bath who play a much more fluid type of rugby. Playing a certain style week in week out is going to have an effect on what type of player you are (I think Farrell and Ford are the best comparisons in this instance). Then when all these players gather with England, they're have to adapt to whatever style the England management has opted for. There is a noticeable change in the way England play when certain players are on, so there's no consistency. Whereas in New Zealand, all the club teams play a similar style of rugby. Whether it be in the NPC or Super Rugby. So when all the players gather at the All Blacks camp, they aren't having to make any major adjustments to the way they might play because all of them play a similar kind of rugby, it's just cranked up a notch. There's no difference in the way NZ play when different players take the field and I think that's one of the reasons they do so well.

    Reply
  • bunn
    2:27 PM 04/11/2015

    Well he was never going to get picked! Armitage may have been a better option, but he never claimed a place when he had his chance. I'm also not sure why we should model any domestic rugby on the Top 14 because the league is skilless wrestling match that has caused huge issues for the French national team. As an England fan I'm not sure whether it was better to go out in the group or to concede 60 points in the quarter finals....

    Reply
  • 45678
    2:17 PM 04/11/2015

    by this I mean that the RFU take control of the way the sides play in the same way the kiwi S15 teams do. it would make for a dull internal league, but would benefit all players knowing the same systems for club and would translate into having an exceptionally large pool of players to select from nationally the next step is to agree how we want to paly the game. a summer league would be a good move as well highly unlikely on all counts I fear. too much self interest and money for English teams to relinquish any control

    Reply
  • 45678
    2:09 PM 04/11/2015

    so in essence we need central contracts and the RFU taking control of the English clubs

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    1:45 PM 04/11/2015

    Nonu was a liability when he first donned the black shirt. Every game there would be questions about handling, distribution, too eager to crash it up etc., but they stuck with him. DC, Nonu, and Conrad Smith have been around for as long as I can remember... you can have all the individual talent in the world, but if the combinations aren't there, the performance won't be either. Faz and Barritt are Saracens spine, on paper it makes sense to field a combination, but when it is only just above average in the premiership, it is found greatly lacking in the international arena. Barritt was a better player at the Sharks, were it not for Frans Steyn and Butch James he would have had the 10 shirt nailed... now he has been over coached into a dull crash ball centre. An effective back line leader, but like a lot of the england players, he lacks that extra gear, that extra step to make him dangerous when wearing the Red Rose.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    1:39 PM 04/11/2015

    It is an unfortunate reality, but when you are number 1, the only way you can go is down. It is hard to break a habit if you are still living in the same circumstances that produced it. He found Buddhism, grew his hair, and from what I have been told, he even enjoys the odd beer nowadays. Learning a new language opens up another part of the brain, you are too busy with your grammar to beat yourself up about missing a kick. Work/Life balance is a lot better in France too. And who would have thought that the French fans would adopt the England Talisman as one of their own?

    Reply
  • drg
    1:20 PM 04/11/2015

    As I saw it, there was a mix of what you've said with England... Although the reverse... the trusted out of form players, never got better, and the in form players, were always left unpicked... In fact, I'm actually unsure how it could have been so bad without trying to be bad..

    Reply
  • drg
    1:17 PM 04/11/2015

    To be honest look at the likes of Jonny Wilkinson, he had already achieved an immense amount before he moved to France, but his playing just opened up and he looked completely relaxed (or as relaxed as one can be). In England he looked terrified all the time. Perhaps this is more to do with his own internal demons rather than anything else, but France did him a world of good..

    Reply
  • drg
    1:10 PM 04/11/2015

    I think you guys are both totally right, especially as we're not talking about a player waltzing in and taking a position... I was initially slightly sceptical when I considered the upsets I caused during uni days when I'd spend my week drinking/studying and eating crap only to take a trip back home a weekend here and there and walk right into a starting position for the 2's... But then it has dawned on me, it's an entirely different concept (aside from the obvious International elite vs Amateur 2's)... For instance, Tom Wood is playing his rugby week in week out at Northampton Saints.....clue is in the club... it's not England... Steffon Armitage is playing week in week out at Toulon - again... not England... so when you consider that you're selecting players from totally different clubs to come and play and train in a collective group for England, what is the big problem with the likes of a Europe bound player coming in and doing the same thing? I can see that perhaps selecting a player who is down under and maybe caught up in mid season or off season could complicate matters, but it's Europe. You could end up in Toulon before I could drive to London...

    Reply
  • ollie
    12:37 PM 04/11/2015

    England seem to have lost sight of the fact that rugby is a team game. There is a lot of talk about the collective, but they have failed where it comes to finding combinations of players that "fit" together. The ABs have a great balance between selecting based on form but also trusting class players in the AB jersey even when they aren't necessarily playing that well for their clubs (e.g. Carter's average season). Incessant chopping and changing in the name of only ever selecting "form" players from the preceeding month does not help combinations and therefore the team to perform better. On that basis, Armitage is consistently great and should have been considered an exception (still allowed under England policy) - but that should have been 2 years ago. I would agree that pulling him in at the last minute would have been the wrong call. I'm a big Abendanon fan too - but however exciting a player he is, on an all-round basis, he is not exceptional compared to someone like Mike Brown.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    12:28 PM 04/11/2015

    Point well made. Most players making their way to France tend to be on the older end of the scale with a few bit-part caps, or past their international best. Flood moved because he wasn't playing for England, and with Faz, Ford, Cips etc. in the pipeline, it wasn't likely he would be around the squad either. That's not to say he is a lesser player than the others, you don't get 60 caps for being average, but it was time for the management to try something new. From a playing perspective, I think the reason players like Abendanon and Armitage have progressed is because they have only one job and one playbook to focus on. They haven't had to divide their time between club and country, and learn to play with a new set of players each week. A consistent environment allows a player to breathe, and fulfil their potential. Younger players will benefit from more opportunity, take the 2011-2012 Quins for example, the season they won the premiership they had the most English qualified players, and fielded the most academy graduates. English rugby has been improving over the past 5 years, and not everyone is a money grabber. Rugby is Old Skool, there is a lot of pride in being a one club man like Johnno or Dallaglio. Ferraris are fun, but legend status is priceless.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:28 AM 04/11/2015

    I think the talent drain risk is an overblown red herring. France has plenty of decent players of their own. It's not like the French clubs are all queueing up to sign every decent English player; there are only so many English players wanting to move to France that can be accommodated. So I think that aspect would be self-policing. Anyway, if a lot of players do go to France, that simply creates spaces for other players to come up and progress. Look at the sheer number of rugby players in England - there's always someone to replace the void left by another player.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    9:21 AM 04/11/2015

    A very insightful comment Mr 78. There's a lot that the management should be seeking to understand from those players' experiences, rather than just shutting them out. Personally I think any player who takes the opportunity to broaden his horizons, mix with different cultures (rugby and national), experiment with different styles of play, etc, should be commended and encouraged to come back into the fold and share all the insight and knowledge he's accumulated from those experiences. I wonder if Martin Johnson would ever have become the incredible player and leader if he hadn't had the balls to go off to New Zealand and develop his game among the best players in the world. (Also applies to a lesser extent to Tom Wood and James The Brand Haskell). A lad at my club saved up all his cash from part-time jobs to go to some academy in Australia for six months - he was already quite handy but came back a drastically improved player, (and a bit cocky too!). If I were a young player now with aspirations of playing elite level rugby, I reckon I'd get on a plane to Samoa, Fiji or Tonga. Now that would be a steep learning curve - maybe a rather painful one at first. Come back with an enhanced instinct for keeping the ball alive, smashing the bejesus out of tacklers and fast running rugby. (If the rugby didn't work out, who cares, you just end up chilling out for a year or so on a tropical island). If that type of enterprise is penalised, rather than encouraged, well I think it would be rather short-sighted of those in charge.

    Reply
  • reality
    8:42 AM 04/11/2015

    I don't really get the hostility towards the English policy. It's designed to prevent the drain of the best players from England. That way, the club level they have now doesn't get even worse, wages can be kept from ballooning, and the RFU at least has the power to make deals with English clubs regarding time off for internationals etc. whereas it doesn't have that power with French clubs. Yeah, it means you can't pick Steffan Armitage, but between not picking Armitage and risking a probable talent drain towards France and the weakening of the English league, I know which I'd pick.

    Reply
  • 10stonenumber10
    3:40 AM 04/11/2015

    Armitage wasn't in the squad because he is a better overall open side and snaffler, you don't want your captain to be the 2nd best in his position, there was too much time and money invested in Robshaw to bench him. The "We don't need them" mentality brought in an wanted shedload of comparisons, a team needs confidence, and you won't find it when the media, fans, and other players are telling you that someone else is better suited to the role. It's a second-guess before the first name hits the team sheet. As for Lancaster's selection, there have been rumblings about Faz Snr trying to take charge. I think he had romantic visions of his son leading England to victory, Jnr is a quality solid player trying to play the Wilko game, but there is only one JW. Snr was a hard as f**k League Legend, his specialty was defence, so let him do that, and do that only. You don't ask a bricklayer to hook a shed up to the mains... you get a sparky... + they will know how to run the pond water feature and fairy lights off one switch too. I'm not sure quite what landscape gardening has to do with rugby, but it is 3.30am, I think I know what I am on about, but that's about as good an analogy as I can muster.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:52 PM 03/11/2015

    You're definitely right, however I do think the omission of Armitage was a mistake as much as I feel the non inclusion of Nowell in any competitive starting line up was also a mistake, I think they're both two players that would have increased the standard. I do however feel that England overall were a lost team. I could be wrong, but I've said it before about New Zealand, they have 15 immense players all with 15 equally immense players chasing for a starting position... followed by another 15 brilliant players... England on the other hand look like they have perhaps a handful of immense players, then the rest are brilliant players.. but England already has the saxons and the other A teams and B teams, this is supposed to be the 'Elite'.... and I don't get the impression they are Elite, or at least as Elite as other nations. Perhaps NZ wasn't a great example as I don't think there are many other teams that have the same set up, but that really is what teams should be aiming for.

    Reply
  • drg
    11:38 PM 03/11/2015

    Nowells as well is a prime example of a wasted selection. The guy is immense, he really brought something to the 6N then he was given some BS game time when Englands chances were over... I can totally understand that in theory you have to select back up players, if for instance you have Jonny Wilkinson and Dan Carter, you might also pick another 10 just in case, but chances are you won't use him... but to pick a class player like Nowells and see how he tore up the field in 6N only to NOT see him playing for England was a big waste...

    Reply
  • 45678
    10:21 PM 03/11/2015

    I think we need to look at the broader picture here because selecting armitage and abendanon would not have won us the World Cup. We weren't good enough for 2 Players to fix the faults. Why can an average player in the English league go and be a star in a French club? Number of games, lifestyle, freedom to play, no international interference must taken into account and evolved into English rugby. Abendanon was a good club player, but never close to being European player of the year. If the RFU can pinpoint that evolution the we are on to something

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    4:32 PM 03/11/2015

    I believe the results of the inquest come out on the 17th. Yes I saw that, he's one hell of a player. We need someone to fill the void that Samu Manoa has left behind!

    Reply
  • colombes
    1:45 PM 03/11/2015

    I don't really get Abendanon argument on a short term. It was between him and Cip. But on a longer term, english expats in France can bring much more insights and experience by playing vs/with great nz, aussies, saffa or (even) french players. When does this 'panel' will give his holly verdict? In a certain parallel, Picamoles will play for the Saints next season (lucky you Jimmy23) Do you think he hasn't talk about it with Noves? He'll be one of the pillar of les bleus in the following years.

    Reply
  • jimmy23
    12:16 PM 03/11/2015

    If Lancaster stays as coach one would hope that his selection policies are one of the things he's been told to look at and we might actually start seeing selections that make sense. Though looking at the panel that has been chosen to review everything I wouldn't be surprised if we just continued on the path of mediocrity.

    Reply
  • stroudos
    6:43 AM 03/11/2015

    Quite a strange argument. Bring us in just to motivate the others. I thought Bomber wasted quite enough of people's time like that - Cipriani for example, even Slade seemed to be there to make up the numbers, SL seemed desperate not to actually select him.

    Reply


Great Tries

View All

Big Hits & Dirty Play

View All

See It To Believe It

View All

Funnies

View All

Amateur

View All

Player Features

View All
Nick Abendanon says England players not backing overseas selection policy is 'pathetic' | RugbyDump - Rugby News & Videos