Whilst England may be in the World Cup Final on Saturday it does not mean that all is well with their rugby at present, or at least according to Dick Best it doesn’t.
The former England coach has delivered a warning to English rugby not to get overly excited by the prospect of a second successive final and a chance to become the first team to successfully defend their crown.
Best has said that the domestic game in England is still plagued by serious problems and believes that the advancement of the national team to the Final has masked the cracks.
“We haven’t papered over the cracks, we’ve plastered over them. If we’d gone out earlier, it would have exposed lots of issues,” he told BBC Radio 5live.
England, against the odds, have made it to the Final with wins over Australia and France in their last two games, stunning many critics on the way.
The four years since England’s triumph under Sir Clive Woodward in the last World Cup have been largely lacking in success, with rows between the clubs and the Rugby Football Union providing an acrimonious backdrop.
The clubs are close to reaching agreement with the RFU on a new deal to compensate them for the loss of their England players.
But Best said England’s unexpected success was in danger of overshadowing fundamental flaws in the domestic game.
“There are serious issues in the game in England that need addressing rapidly,” added Best.
“Overseas players, competition structures, number of games. There’s a lot of issues at stake.
“Reaching the final has been marvelous to see, but I’m not sure what this has done for our club game.
“It’s been a disaster for four years. It’s been embarrassing being the worst world champions ever, now we’ve got a chance to prove everybody wrong.
“The players are being quite bloody-minded about it – it’s a case of two fingers up to every journalist – and quite rightly so.”
The key, according to Best, is to be ruthless after the World Cup, in terms of blooding new players, rather than sticking with the old heads that have done so well over the past two months.
“There’s no point in the older players being used in the Six Nations,” he said.
“That is the time when you should be moving on. We made that mistake four years ago – we should have had a clear-out and rebuilt the side.”
Not everyone shares Best’s views though, Harlequins director of rugby Dean Richards took issue with his suggestions.
“There are a few problems in the game but no more so than in New Zealand, Australia or South Africa or anywhere else,” he told BBC Radio 5live.
“They are starting to be addressed. Rob Andrew, RFU director of elite rugby, is there and there’s a committee looking at the issues.
Caption: Experienced backrower Lawrence Dallaglio is taking the ride of his life in another crack at the Rugby World Cup title this weekend. Photo: Planet Rugby