Thursday, September 06, 2007


As the build up to the Rugby World Cup continues, the man many held responsible for England's win last time, Jonny Wilkinson, has been ruled unfit for up to six weeks.

Meanwhile, the man who was really responsible for that victory, Martin Johnson, has been voted captain of a fantasy best-of team by rugby fans around the world.

Johnson was responsible for the win because he just refused, ever, to accept defeat and he refused to let anyone around him drop their head either. His leadership as captain motivated the English team to win in exactly those circumstances - close matches, or matches where they are trailing, as the final whistle approaches - in which they had consistently lost before his captaincy.

We won with the attitude, the self-belief and refusal to quit, that has made the All Blacks, the Australians and the French (when they are on song) so great. The English disease, an innate belief in the inevitability of failure, was not in his genetic makeup, and as such he is a throwback to an older, better type of Englishman.

And he didn't care whether he was liked, so long as he won.

We need more Martin Johnsons, and not just in sport.

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