English Rugby
Lewsey hits out at RFU
ESPNscrum Staff
November 24, 2011
England fullback Josh Lewsey lifts the World Cup, England v Australia, Telstra Stadium, Sydney, November 22, 2003
Lewsey took the World Cup back in 2003 © Getty Images

World Cup winner Josh Lewsey has expressed his dismay at the current state of rugby in England and claims it is the culture of uncertainty which has forced players to retire from the game early.

Lewsey played his last match for England back in 2007 and played alongside the now departed England team manager Martin Johnson in the 2003 World Cup. But following the infamous leaked reports on Wednesday, Lewsey argues that this type of scandal has been a long time coming.

"It's a very sad but inevitable eventuality from seven years of systematic failure," Lewsey told The Times. "Challenge, dynamism and ego-free openness to improve had been replaced with self-serving political territorialism, which of course then filters into selection and thus the culture and values.

"It's unfair to blame individuals, particularly just Johno [Martin Johnson], but when players who are like that were quickly left out or undermined, what message does that then send of how to get on and progress? It's why so many choose to leave the game they love."

These views are echoed by fellow World Cup winner Ben Kay, who talked to ESPNscrum on Wednesday, who recognised that there were problems brewing in the leadership structure within the players. Kay said: "Some of the senior players never grew up. They were the young cheeky ones in the 2003 and 2007 squad and some haven't really grown up. And if you look at leadership in that group of players it was sadly lacking throughout the campaign."

The pressure and media spotlight is now firmly back on the current crop of England players as a result of their poor performance in the 2011 World Cup. Ben Foden, who played for the side at fullback during the recent global gathering, is one of the new generation eyeing the 2015 World Cup and he hopes the Rugby Football Union will take note of what has been leaked in an attempt to draw some positives.

"Those reports were done so we could communicate back to the RFU on players' opinions and thoughts," Foden said. "Hopefully it can be used positively and we'll see a few changes from it. The key part of the whole process is we learn from it and hopefully get better from the whole situation."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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