Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mooro Gave Us the Edge That Ashton's Men Need; Joker in the Pack: The England Team Was Full of Real Characters Such as Brian Moore (Centre)

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Mooro Gave Us the Edge That Ashton's Men Need; Joker in the Pack: The England Team Was Full of Real Characters Such as Brian Moore (Centre)

Article excerpt

Byline: JASON LEONARD

PEOPLE often ask me if there are any characters left in the game now itis so professional, and whether the present England squad have great guys whoenjoy a laugh.

Tales of misbehaviour by Micky Skinner, Brian Moore and the rest of the guyswho played in the 80s and early 90s are legendary.

'Mooro' was a master at dealing with the media, and his most famous line camein the build-up to one of our matches with France in 1995.

Mooro described facing the French rugby team as like "playing 15 Eric Cantona'sbrilliant but brutal". It followed the former Manchester United player's clashwith the fan at Crystal Palace and we all thought it was hilarious.

Typically, the French only concentrated on the brutal part of the analogy,ignoring the fact Mooro had described them, quite rightly, as brilliantperformers.

Austin Healey is another who springs to mind as always being able to keep therest of his team-mates in stitches, and his spat with Aussie Justin Harrisonduring the 2001 Lions tour created a huge stir when he labelled the second rowa 'plank'.

The difference now, though, as Healey discovered, is that everything that issaid is scrutinised by the media.

People like Mark 'Ronnie' Regan, Lawrence Dallaglio and Mike Catt have lots ofgreat stories and are totally at ease with reporters. These are the characterswho can open up in press conferences without inflaming situations but stilldeliver that sound bite which goes down well. That is true for every team atthe tournament but I am concerned that, as the game becomes more professionalin every area, we are going down the football route in terms of dealing withthe media.

I always get worried when sporting teams view the media as the enemy. You needto work with them to create the right atmosphere, which is something Sir CliveWoodward enjoyed doing during the 2003 tournament.

He would give his views in press conferences and then come into the team roomand tell the players not to believe a word that had been said.

Players shouldn't be looking at television, reading newspapers or listening tothe radio, anyway, because they have to focus on what they can control withoutunwanted distractions, particularly at a World Cup. …

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