Hipkiss: World Cup campaign should be a wake-up call

Bath centre Dan Hipkiss conceded the dynamic between the England team and the nation will have to change following their disappointing World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

England crashed out of the tournament at the quarter-final stage to France and that brought an end to manager Martin Johnson’s stint as manager, the former Leicester man quitting on Wednesday.

However, while much was made of England’s below-par showing against Les Bleus, equally the team’s off-field antics were also heavily scrutinised with Mike Tindall, Manu Tuilagi, Chris Ashton and James Haskell all punished in various forms.

“I think it’s just a bit of a wake-up call for everyone in rugby,” said Hipkiss, capped 13 times by his country.

“The media scrutiny as well as the profiles of the players and the sport is increasing and things are going to have to be more private now, more like a football team rather than that of a rugby team.

“It’s a shame because rugby teams have always been known for having good relationships with the fans but unfortunately that is going to have to change.

“I don’t know what went on (in New Zealand) and you don’t unless you are in the camp but things are going to have to be kept more in-house from now on because the smallest thing can be taken out of context.”

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The RFU have already begun planinng for the future post-Johnson and while former Italy coach Nick Mallett ruled himself of the running yesterday, the likes of Northampton director of rugby Nick Mallinder and Australian Eddie Jones have not ruled themselves out of the running.

“It’s a difficult decision,” he said.

“They could choose a guy that has been involved in coaching and focuses more on the infastructure of the management team or select someone who works in a smaller, more simple set-up.

“I have seen both systems work pretty well domestically but whatever they do, the RFU can’t rush their decision.

“When they make an appointment it has got to be one that last four years and the next World Cup.

“They don’t want to be chopping and changing every couple of years so that might mean someone tiding the players over during the Six Nations, in a caretaker capacity.”

In an interview with the Star during the World Cup, Hipkiss admitted he had not ruled out playing for his country again and backed Johnson to take the country forward.

Just over a month on, while a little surprised with Johnson’s decision, the former Diss Rugby Club player understands why he took that decision.

“I was a little bit surprised although it did not go well at the World Cup,” said Hipkiss.

“He had the support of most of the players and during my brief time with the squad he had the respect of the players.

“It is a shame as he has a lot to offer and the team has made great progression from the one he inherited (in 2008).

“He has raised the standard of fitness and found two or three players for each position.

“He got the guys in shape but going into a match you can have a dip in form. Perhaps had we won that game against France things would be different but it’s all ifs and buts.”

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