England inspired by war hero
November 14, 2010
England captain Lewis Moody hoists the Cook Cup following his side's victory at Twickenham © Getty Images
England captain Lewis Moody has revealed that his side's historic 35-18 victory over Australia at Twickenham was inspired by a pre-match talk from a wounded British war hero.
Capt Harry Parker of the 4th Battalion The Rifles addressed the team at their Pennyhill Park base on the eve of their record-breaking victory over the Wallabies. The shirts of both teams had a poppy embroidered on to the arm to mark Remembrance Day and the match was preceded by a minute's silence.
"The night before the game we were privileged to receive a visit from Capt Harry Parker," Moody wrote in his Mail On Sunday column. "He was seriously wounded, losing both his legs, when he took the full force of a booby-trap bomb in Afghanistan.
"It takes a lot to keep the England boys quiet, but when Capt Parker spoke to us in the team room at Pennyhill Park, you could have heard a pin drop. When you see someone who has been through so much being so positive, it is inspirational. He spoke about how important teamwork is and what it means to be nervous before you go out to do your duty.
"The worst time for any player is the night before a game, but the night before this match was easier because of what Capt Parker had said. We knew we had nothing to be nervous about compared with what the Armed Forces have to endure before they go into battle.
"Obviously, what we do on the field pales into insignificance compared with the heroic endeavours of our soldiers. I hope we did the England fans and Capt Parker proud in completing back-to-back wins over Australia."
Moody and Australia captain Rocky Elsom have both donated their jerseys to the Poppy Appeal and they are to be auctioned by the Rugby Football Union via eBay.
In related news, England fullback Ben Foden believes his side's victory will reverberate around the world. "The southern hemisphere teams have to take us seriously," he said in the wake of their crowd-pleasing triumph. "That was our main aim to put ourselves up there and make sure we're competing with the big boys. That's what we've gone out to do. We've put down a marker now.
"Australia beat New Zealand a couple of weeks ago, we gave the All Blacks a good run for their money and they know we're a threat. Australia will certainly be thinking about us come World Cup time."
England had never before put more than 32 points on Australia and yesterday's victory margin equalled their biggest ever against the Wallabies. And for the first time since the 2003 World Cup final England have completed back-to-back victories over Australia.
"It was a pretty convincing win and we can be pretty happy with the sort of rugby we played," said Foden. "Obviously this is a massive plus but we'll go back to work next week and look at ways to improve. We just need to keep on working because we're by no means the finished article.
"If we'd played poorly and lost this game then a lot of the hard work we'd done over the summer towards the back of the Six Nations would have been undone. Although we saw the All Blacks game as another step forward, a loss against Australia and it would all have been eradicated, back to square one.
"Every game we need to notch it up a little built further and keep growing as a team. That's what's going to make us great at the end of the day. We're all building to the World Cup, and we've got a good squad now of 32 players who are all pushing each other so we can hit the ground running when the World Cup arrives."
And, Matt Banahan is set to return to the England squad against Samoa at Twickenham on Saturday after being withdrawn from Bath's 18-16 away defeat to Wasps in the Anglo-Welsh Cup. "England told me Matt will be in the 22 next weekend," said Bath head coach Steve Meehan. "Matt was in camp with England last week and, after yesterday's Test, I got a message from Martin saying 'We're going to have to keep him'."
Banahan won his five previous England caps on the wing but has been playing in the centre recently for Bath.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton