England’s Jamie George backs Wales players but wary of rebound effect | England rugby union team

For the England and Wales players, this seems like an opportune week to remember Rudyard Kipling’s most famous poem. ‘If you can keep your head while everyone around you is losing theirs…’ The attacking threat from the Welsh players may have been averted, but only now, with both teams announced, does Saturday’s rugby game at Principality Stadium finally emerge under a huge, steaming pile of off-field issues.

It’s not simply a question of whether Wales can weather an exceptionally turbulent and turbulent week. Contract negotiations are also underway east of the Severn Bridge and England’s senior professionals have been monitoring the situation in Wales as closely as anyone. A new professional gaming deal in England, potentially involving some belt-tightening, is due to be finalized before 2024 and Saracen prostitute Jamie George is among those who know that difficult conversations can still wait closer to home.

Instead of rubbing their hands in this week’s riot in Wales, therefore, players like George are rooting for their opponents from afar. “We have a lot of sympathy for the Welsh players,” said the Saracen striker, just before the Rose Red team bus departed Bagshot on its way to Cardiff. “I can understand why they are as frustrated as they are… I’m glad they stood up for themselves and I hope they can be resolved.”

Smart, experienced players like George can see the bigger picture emerging. The fall of Wasps and Worcester has focused everyone’s minds, the fragility of professional rugby’s finances is increasingly evident and the pressure on Premiership budgets is not letting up. “It’s obvious that the Premiership is not where we want it either,” said George. “Rugby is in an interesting space right now and the player’s voice is more important than ever.”

Adding to the challenge of a reshuffled Wales team, with a key point to prove on Saturday, is the reality that rugby needs to stop fighting and come together to address the reasons behind the drop in adult participation further down the line. pyramid. George’s uncle Robbie is the long-time director of rugby for Towcestrians RFC in Northamptonshire and has been keeping his nephew informed of the latest grassroots trends. “He’s telling me he’s worried about participation numbers and the difficulty of fielding teams. That’s a concern. It’s the game we love and we want it to reach as many people as possible.”

Mason Grady hones his handling skills at Wales’ training base in the Vale of Glamorgan on Thursday. Photography: Ben Evans/Shutterstock

The most encouraging news is that all those involved – the Rugby Football Union, the clubs and the players – now seem to recognize that collaboration is the only viable way forward. As George says, “You never want to get to the point where punches are in the cards, because that means confrontation and one side against the other. We want to try and work together.

“I think the unfortunate situations with Wasps and Worcester have probably led to a bit of self-reflection across the board from trade unions to the Rugby Players Association. The RFU in particular has been great about wanting to know what players think. If you can come to a solution between the two, that’s the best way forward.”

More immediately, though, George knows exactly what’s being said in the Wales dressing room, having himself been through some serious turmoil off the pitch in the darkest days of the Saracens’ salary cap saga. “I’ve been through a similar situation. You kind of love it when things aren’t going well off the pitch and there’s a lot of noise going on. What he can do is actually revive you and make you a stronger unit. Us against the world, let’s go out and prove some people wrong. I’m sure that’s the kind of message that people like Alun Wyn Jones are sending out.”

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In the Saracens’ case, it was a European game against Racing 92 in January 2020 when their pent-up frustration came to a head. “We had just been officially relegated after all the rubbish that had gone on in the previous months”, recalled George. “It’s probably one of my favorite rugby memories. We were left with 14 men, somehow we beat Racing at home and then we all huddled together. If I could have a framed rugby picture at home it would be this one, because it means so much.”

That’s why England, whose last Six Nations win in Cardiff came in 2017, now cross the Severn with a renewed sense of caution. “We are expecting the best possible team from Wales, a team that is very passionate and motivated to win,” says George. “We’re aware of what’s coming, but… if we’re emotionally, mentally and tactically right, that negates it.” If you can keep your head etc etc? Kipling or not Kipling, extremely good competition awaits.

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