Former England Rugby Union coach Clive Woodward has caused a bit of a backlash in a long winded article about the English Rugby Union team. In his his Mail Online article Woodward came off like a bloke that has had too many people blowing smoke up his arse. The type of self important bullshit that Rugby Union types are so good at dishing out.
One particular part of his article angered Rugby League fans. This quote:
“Outside centre is the one big question mark for this generation of England players. Sam Tomkins was born to play 13 for England and we should never have allowed him to leave the country to play rugby league in New Zealand.”
Nice one Clive!
The reaction was pretty swift by Rugby League fans and rightfully so. Looking past the fact that Sam Tomkins doesn’t play Rugby Union, the idea that Rugby Union “allowed” Tomkins to take up a very lucrative contract with the New Zealand Warriors smasks of arrogance.
One thing many people didn’t pick up on was that Woodward listed Sonny Bill Williams as a Rugby Union player as well. You have top wonder how much Woodward actually knows about Rugby Union, especially when he considers Quade Cooper one of the “podium” players in the game, what ever that shit is all about.
One interesting thing about Woodward’s article was his open minded view on the game of Rugby Union in England.
I’ve said for a long time that Rugby League in England is very insular in many ways and it hinders the games ability to expand. There is an overwhemling feeling in English Rugby League that the game is a northern sport, that no one else cares about Rugby League and therefore they do not deserve to follow the game. Woodward obviously feels that Rugby Union owns all of England, and whether you think he is right or not, you have to admit that there are very few people in Rugby League within England that have a whole of nation approach to the greatest game of all.
The other thing to take from this article is a lesson about the worth of certain players.
When Sonny Bill Williams left Rugby League he did so because he felt he was being underpaid. Over the years plenty of Rugby League types said the words “We should never have allowed him to leave”.
When it comes down to it, if Rugby Union had really wanted Sam Tomkins, they should have paid him what he is worth.
Now I’m not saying Sam Tomkins is worth what the New Zealand Warriors are paying him. They have invested a lot of money to get Tomkins on their books. In an open market a player is worth what the highest bidder is willing to pay them. If you really want to sign that player, its really simple. You pay them what they are worth.
Sam Tomkins made the decision to leave Wigan, to leave England, and go to the other side of the world to play in the National Rugby League. He didn’t even go somewhere like Sydney, the Gold Coast or North Queensland for the the big lifestyle change. He went to Auckland. I’m not bagging Auckland but lets be honest, he didn’t go there for the lifestyle.
It is a big move for Tomkins. One I’m sure he simply couldn’t refuse because of the money on offer.
Rugby League should learn a few lessons out of Sam Tomkins and Sonny Bill Williams. If you want to hold onto these headliners, you have to pay them what they are worth in an open market where the likes of Clive Woodward are hoping to snag these type of players.
The leather patch brigade are a funny lot. They like to have digs at Rugby League while looking on with envy at the innovations and athletes the game produces. The 2013 Rugby League World Cups overwhelming success should be the stepping stone for the game to build a credible international calender. With the NRL driving the game financially, Rugby League is in a pretty good place right now.
The likes of Clive Woodward will continue to eye Rugby League talent. It is up to Rugby League to make sure that the closest they get to our talent is watching from afar.