Six Nations
Telfer: 'England are too arrogant'
ESPN Staff
January 29, 2013
Former Lions assistant coach Jim Telfer poses with a 2009 shirt, Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, February 24, 2009
Jim Telfer has stoked the Calcutta Cup fires © Getty Images
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Comment from ESPNscrum's Tom Hamilton

  • While there is no doubting Telfer's immense rugby pedigree, these latest comments from the former Scotland coach are out of touch and anachronistic. His assertion that the Welsh are 'lazy' is just wrong. Wales pride themselves on their fitness and in the last Six Nations they scored match-winning tries against Ireland and England in the final five minutes of the match.
  • The view that England are "too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending" is not a fair way of describing the ethos that Stuart Lancaster has engrained into this current crop of players. While England did come up against a "tired All Blacks" team, the fact they won is testament to Lancaster and his players and should be applauded rather than looked at in a negative light.

Former Scotland and British & Irish Lions coach Jim Telfer has lashed out at England labelling Stuart Lancaster's side "too arrogant, too pretentious and too condescending".

England meet Scotland in their annual Calcutta Cup clash on Saturday and Telfer has already started stoking the fires. And Telfer is no stranger to the Anglo-Scottish rivalry having coached Scotland to their 1984 Grand Slam and acted as assistant to Ian McGeechan in 1990 when they scooped another clean sweep. And while the outspoken Telfer has praised England's coaches, he has singled out some of the team's younger players as "very impressionable".

"England are not as good as they think they are," Telfer told the Daily Mail. "They were really up for it against New Zealand, very physical against a tired team. If they had played another five times, the All Blacks would have won them all. You have to retain perspective. In their favour is the coaching team of Stuart Lancaster, Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell. All from the North and all down to earth. They will not let that victory go to their heads.

"The players are a different matter, people like Chris Ashton, Danny Care, Ben Youngs and Manu Tuilagi. They are young, very impressionable and they think what they read is all true. There are the makings of a good squad, but it is not good at the moment. Like the English football team, a couple of wins and they think they are world-beaters.

"Unless they are careful they will end up playing in a very English way. The way Saracens play. Pretty boring. The Northampton way. Boring. It is all about forward domination, and the irony is that England have some bloody good backs. I look at the Saxons team and see someone like Wasps winger Christian Wade. He's like greased lightning."

And Telfer's assessment of Six Nations rivals Wales was also forthright. "Wales is not an easy country to coach because, basically, the Welsh are lazy," Telfer added. "Coaching them, playing against and with them, I realised they had reached the top because they were the cream and had not necessarily worked all that hard to get there. Wales do produce very good rugby players."

Scotland will be led by interim coach Scott Johnson into the 2013 Six Nations and Telfer believes that a return of three wins from their five games would "represent an exceptional season". Supporters of the Scottish side will be hoping that Johnson emulates England boss Lancaster, who led his team to second place in last season's Six Nations while on an interim contract.

If Johnson's team do perform well then Telfer would be happy to see the Australian get the post on a full-time basis. "If Scott Johnson produces a good Six Nations and a decent summer tour in South Africa, would not be averse to having him. But he has not proved anything yet in any of his coaching jobs."

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