Matt Dawson column- Rugby has some big calls to make after Wales saga

Matt Dawson column- Rugby has some big calls to make after Wales saga, rugby-union, sport

England’s win in Cardiff on Saturday was significant, but people may be devaluing it slightly because of the turmoil that Wales went through in the build-up.

Just three days before the match, a Wales player strike was averted after they reached a compromise with their union over contracts.

For me, that was a symptom of wider problems in rugby. One of the things the Wales players wanted was representation on the committee that oversees professional rugby in Wales and thankfully they got it.

Player representation at unions and governing bodies is so important. A business cannot understand its product without the input of specialists. The glaringly obvious specialists in rugby are the players.

Rugby is an enormous product but we need innovative thinking to turn it into an attractive, lucrative and commercial sport.

Until people are united on that, we are always going to come up against issues like Wales have experienced recently.

It is almost three decades since rugby union went professional, in 1995. It is very dangerous to compare it with football, which has been professional for so much longer, but I think we can compare it with the Premier League, which started in 1992. With the Premier League, football looked to the future.

Then you look at cricket. Things are not perfect in cricket and there have been some massive sacrifices. Everyone hated the Indian Premier League initially but now it is an integral part of the calendar. The players want to play in it and the fans want to see it.

It will be the same with LIV Golf. There is so much furore around that breakaway competition at the moment, but at some stage it is all going to come together and move golf to a completely different level.

You need that fractious and innovative thinking. It will upset people along the way but it is for the good of the sport.

Rugby has needed that for many years and it has some big calls to make now.

England must push on – Borthwick
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Listen to Rugby Union Daily’s analysis of Wales v England
‘England showed definite progress’
Looking at the actual rugby, I think England head coach Steve Borthwick will be really happy with that 20-10 victory.

There was definite progress from the previous two games and England looked more like they understood how they want to play.

It was not just a forward-oriented, kicking game and that made it so much harder for Wales to defend.

England made Anthony Watson’s opening try look really easy but it was a fantastic move – clever and precise.

They had so many options in attack and Wales had to try and cover all of them. It showed that England are capable of manipulating their opposition.

Wales are yet to win a match this Six Nations but no matter how well they are playing, winning in Cardiff is big and it is nice for England to have that in their locker going forward.

‘Confident England can challenge France’
France – Grand Slam champions last year – are a very different proposition to Wales but I think England will have more confidence than they have had for a while going into that next game.

They will be under pressure at the set-piece because France will not make the errors that Wales did in that area.

But the number one takeaway from Saturday’s win was England’s defence, which they will definitely need against a talented French team.

Discipline has been an issue for England over the past couple of years. Their decision-making over when to make the aggressive defensive tackle and when to get in the line was noticeably better.

Every time Wales looked up to attack there seemed to be more white shirts than red. New defence coach Kevin Sinfield has definitely made a big impression with England.

I would love to think that, playing at Twickenham, England could do something against France.

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