Staying Grounded

A good mate of mine, Steve Atkins was given a professional contract at Crystal Palace in the 60’s.

Steve sadly passed away in 2015, but I always remember he told us the young professionals at the club had to clean the boots of the senior players as well as cleaning the dressing room after training and matches.

I doubt that the coddled players of today have to do the same.

I was however, pleased to read that the England rugby team now take it in turns to clean the dressing room –

Dylan Hartley has gone to some lengths to keep things in proportion by getting the team to clean up their dressing room after every game.

England’s captain initiated a new team cleaning regime last autumn, which has carried over into this year’s RBS Six Nations. The players take turns to ensure the changing rooms are left spotless after the final whistle.

The practice, which is understood to have been universally welcomed by England’s players, mirrors a regime first started by the world champions New Zealand, whose players routinely clean the dressing room after matches in a bid to keep them grounded.

Coach Eddie Jones likes to keep his players’ feet on the ground and supports the changing room cleaning, with Hartley understood to have led by example.

Hartley’s move to copy the All Blacks is further evidence of England’s relentless drive to close the gap on New Zealand, the No 1 side in the world.

Players are also encouraged to relax and enjoy a beer together after games, unlike under Lancaster who feared potentially negative PR.

Jones encourages players to set behavioural and disciplinary standards, making Hartley, who has a chequered disciplinary record, a surprise choice to many when he was appointed captain. But he has proved an inspired choice, leading England to straight 15 wins since taking the captaincy.

Grinding their way to the top, hopefully.


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