International Rugby: Six Nations 2008

Andrew GowlandCorrespondent IFebruary 4, 2008

With the Six Nations having kicked off over the weekend, the northern hemisphere Rugby World watched in anticipation as what is set to be one of the closest competitions for a while. This was made apparent when England, having been humiliated by an unknown small county just outside of Liverpool, sulked off the pitch.

Before it all kicked off, it was impossible not to count England amongst the favorites after their shocking World Cup run. Now however, it's a different matter altogether, as Brian's Barmy Army imploded and produced an erratic England 5 minute spell in which the aforementioned unknown entity broke through the back line twice.

Watching the game it was apparent that there was a lack of motivation to continue the demolition that the first half had set up.

Motivation comes from good leadership, on and off the field. Players need someone to look up to when they're in trouble, they need a role model like Johnno was in 2003 and indeed the rest of his England captaincy.

They also need to be motivated by the head coach, which has to be someone to get the players by the scruff of the neck when things are going badly and give them a bollocking. Or encourage them to burn through teams when half the job is done as it was on Saturday.

What really annoys me is Brian Ashton's lack of emotion in every TV interview I've seen him in. He just can't motivate the players to give 120%, doesn't understand what England needs to go forward, and certainly has no criteria to help us do so. It was apparent to me when he dropped Matthew Tait, one of our brightest performers in France and one of the few quality players we have with bags of heart and passion.

So, now the Six Nations seems more open than ever, with England needing to really impress in their next match and realistically win the remainder of their matches, which seems highly unlikely, to be in with a chance of coming out with their dignity intact.