As England set off for Australia four years ago, Clive Woodward uttered a handful of words to his squad, "even if you don't get on the field in the whole of the tournament, you will have played as big a part in whatever we achieve as the guys who were on the pitch every minute of every game."
"World Cups aren't won by one person," Lawrence Dallaglio said yesterday at the Stade Vélodrome, where England meet Australia on Saturday. "They're won by a squad of 30 with the back-up staff. That was the very clear message from the last World Cup. People can be called on to make contributions at any stage of the competition. If I'm asked to make a contribution, I'm very much looking forward to it. Obviously it would be great to run out and start. But, if that's not to be, then I'd love to be involved."
In 2003 Woodward's team arrived at the World Cup as the finished article, needing only to live up to their own established standards. This time has been very different, Brian Ashton's team having to discover their character and true potential while struggling to emerge from the initial chaos and despondency. From the bench in the last two matches, however, Dallaglio has been perfectly placed to evaluate England's return to some sort of respectability.
It remains to be seen what role, if any, Ashton will ask the 35-year-old Wasps man to play on Saturday. Whatever Dallaglio's inner feelings, however, yesterday he combined the jobs of senior pro and cheerleader to near- perfection. "I think we all acknowledge that the performance required to beat Australia is something that we've yet to see from England in this World Cup," he concluded. "We're going to have to raise our performance levels. But we have the belief and the confidence within the team to do that."
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017