Lack of confidence to blame for England exit

Sale Sharks’ director of sport, Steve Diamond, has blamed England’s premature exit from the Rugby World Cup on a “lack of confidence” that has infected every level of the professional game.

Diamond singled out England coach, Martin Johnson, and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for criticism and claimed there is “no leadership at the top”.

Diamond is, perhaps, in no position to criticise the role model presented by others, after being fined £5,000 for a minor altercation with Nick Johnston, fitness chief at rugby side, Northampton. However, Diamond’s comments mirror those made by dejected England fans, in the wake of the country’s ill-fated match against France, last weekend. People looking at the Rugby World Cup betting would have been disappointed.

England were booted out of the World Cup by Les Bleus on Saturday, a development that Diamond believes was due to England “forgetting that France are a good side”. England’s supreme over-confidence prior to last weekend’s fixture stems from the fact that the Twickenham-based squad had never been beaten by France in the knock-out stages of the World Cup.

Diamond suggested that Martin Johnson may not have been ready for the England job, given that he had no experience of managerial roles before being given the position. Those betting on rugby may agree with this point of view.

“Martin himself was a fantastic player, but [management] is a completely different discipline,” he said.

Diamond’s added that the apparent lack of leadership at the highest level of the sport was demonstrated by the near-uncontrollable behaviour of a few England players during their time in New Zealand. Manu Tuilagi’s much-publicised harbour-dive capped an embarrassing few weeks for the national side.

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