It was in the Sunday Telegraph that the, "wasn't off the ground he licked it," article appeared under a byline that would probably mean more to the more mature audience of this website rather than, let's say the generation that still bemoan the passing of the messageboard section of the site.
John Reason (died in February 2007) was rugby correspondent with the Telegraph and, in the words of the man who succeeded him as rugby corr at the Telegraph, former international Paul Ackford, Reason's, "greatest strength as a journalist and a man was that he told it as he saw it. There was no flim-flam.".
Mind you, an Irish journalist of the Reason generation was a little more succinct and altogether less flattering in his assessment, confining his opinion of the man, to a single word that, given one does not quite rightly speak ill of the dead, shall remain unspoken. However, there are those who will say that Reason never really had much time, by and large, for Irish rugby of any description.
But the telling it like it is gene has obviously been handed down if Mark Reason's (son of John) article on page 2 of the Sunday Telegraph is anything to go on. In his piece titled, "Dull brand of rugby will never beat the top teams," Mark, writing about the Wales England game started off with, "It (England's game plan) had as much wit about it as a dead haddock on the fishmongerâ00s slab. And that might be harsh on the haddock, who didn't have much choice about where he ended up." - Ouch.
and he concluded, " This England team are one of the dullest on the planet. England are a team of dullards coached by a dull manager to play dull rugby. Heaven help us." No flim-flamming there.
Mind you, in the same paper, actually on the same page, the man that took over when his Dad retired, one Paul Ackford, was of the opinion that, after, "a wonderful match", England, "could be immensely proud of the fight they put up.
And while Ackford contended that, "the start of the contest was electric and reflected the form of both sides going into the match," Master Mark felt, "Martin Johnsonâ00s team attempted almost nothing. In the first 10 minutes England kicked the ball 10 times. That may not seem like an excessive statistic until you consider that they had hardly any possession in the opening stages."
But eh, Scuse me, Marky, Helloooo. If they had hardly any possession in the opening stages, how did they manage to kick the ball ten times ? Who gave it to them like. ??
Never mind. Sure what would Paul Ackford know anyway. He only managed to get about 25 or so caps for England, played in all three Lions Tests in Australia '89 and won a Five Nations Grand Slam in 1991.
So we skip to the Mail on Sunday (English version) to have Reason's assessment corroborated and in his piece Patrick Collins tells us that. "They reeled away into the Cardiff night, singing their anthems and sinking their pints and celebrating their fortune at having witnessed one of the great Six Nations matches."
Ah come on now Patrick. Where you sitting Anywhere near the voice of Reason ?
"Wales," continued Collins, " had prevailed with a performance of wit and spirit and glittering quality. But there was a kind of glory for English rugby on this enchanted evening."
" Despised by form and forecast, they (England) had taken a tremendous side to the brink of defeat. They (England, the dullards) had spat in the faces of those who prophesied abject surrender. And they had done the sport some service with the valour of their effort. " (He's probably Irish).
Ok, over to Stephen Jones in the Sunday Times to sort this out, " At least England looked and played like a rugby team that cared. They played their hearts out. They had far more momentum, far more to offer in attack and in terms of rhythm than they have shown for some time."
So while Jones was bashing this out on his laptop, Reason was tinkling the ivories of his machine with, "Looking for England's style of play was like looking for a Saville Row jacket in Primark. There was no style. There was just the simplest of game plans. It consisted of boot, biff and bosh."
Boot, biff and bosh ? Ah come on now Mark, there was no need to drag George Hook into this.