England rejuvenated after "brutal meeting"
September 20, 2011
Thompson says England trained well on Tuesday © Getty Images
Steve Thompson revealed the England squad have kissed and made up after a "brutally honest" meeting to review their performance against Georgia.
England won the game 41-10 but manager Martin Johnson was furious at the lack of discipline in both defence and attack, accusing his team of being sloppy and demanding higher standards. James Haskell weighed in with more criticism before the squad gathered on Monday for what Toby Flood described as a watershed meeting in England's World Cup campaign.
"We've got to be brutally honest. That's what this group of players is all about. Honesty is the best policy - stab you in the belly rather than in the back," said Thompson. "Some reviews are nice and easy, some are harder and some are a bit more brutal. The harder meetings are just because we've got such high standards and we've got to get up to the standards again.
"We've been together a long time and the last thing you want is for things to get comfortable. Sometimes everyone needs to give each other a little boot up the backside and that's what's happening. It's like a relationship - sometimes you get a little bit stale, don't you? Sometimes you've got to have a little bit of an argument and have the old make-up afterwards!
"Today there was a great buzz in training. Everyone wants to get better. For me, it's great to be part of. It's the team and the buzz that we know England is all about."
Four years ago, England held a summit meeting after their 36-0 defeat by South Africa which turned their World Cup around and Brian Ashton's men ended up reaching the final. England are not in that scenario. The players may not be content with how they are playing but England did find a way to win against Argentina and Georgia.
"It is tournament rugby. It's all about winning games and sometimes, if you are winning ugly and being harsh on yourself, it's a good place to be because you can get better," said Thompson. "If you're playing games brilliantly and you're just scratching through - or you're even losing matches - you've got to look at yourself and say 'we're not good enough to win this'.
"But we know we can go and win the next game. Imagine if we'd lost one and won one and suddenly we're thinking 'we're in a bit of trouble here'. But we're not. We're two from two, we can tighten up, we can get better and that's what we're looking for."
England face Romania on Saturday, whose veteran hooker Marius Tincu is a player Thompson knows extremely well from their battles in the French Top 14. And after battling past Argentina and Georgia, who both boast formidable packs, there will be no let-up for England against the Mighty Oaks.
"He (Tincu) has been one of the outstanding players of the tournament so far. Their scrum I'd say is probably the best in the tournament, if you look at what they've done to teams at the moment," said Thompson. "They are a very good scrummaging outfit.
"I thought the Georgians were good and they're big but I'd say the Romanians are a tougher scrummage. Whoever's selected for that game, we've got to think it is going to be a confrontation, especially in the scrums."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton