Why England Should Retain Chris Robshaw as Captain

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistDecember 17, 2015

England's captain Chris Robshaw applauds the crowd after the Rugby World Cup Pool A match between England and Uruguay at Manchester City Stadium, Manchester, England, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. England won the match 60-3.  (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Jon Super/Associated Press

Not even a month into his reign as England head coach, Eddie Jones is already making the tough decisions on how best to shake up the national team, and his first order of business may be electing a new captain.

Incumbent Chris Robshaw has made no secret of his desire to keep the armband, but a report from BBC Sport suggests controversial Northampton Saints hooker Dylan Hartley will be re-elected as skipper.

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 20:  Northampton captain Dylan Hartley is shown the red card and sent off by referee JP Doyle during the Aviva Premiership match between Northampton Saints and Leicester Tigers at Franklin's Gardens on December 20, 2014 in
David Rogers/Getty Images

Many will feel that following such a nightmarish run at the World Cup, it's only deserved for Robshaw; others will feel that team couldn't have succeeded under former head coach Stuart Lancaster, irrespective of who was skipper.

And the latter would likely be correct. In hindsight, it looks like Robshaw was lumped with an impossible task, with so many outside factors and squad pressures affecting the side. 

One of the biggest obstacles in Robshaw's path when it comes to retaining the captaincy is Jones' desire to see his skipper starting in the XV, and many have debated the Harlequins leader's place in the setup of late.

However, his former club team-mate Ugo Monye told BT Sport the newly installed coach "will have been impressed" with his recent display against London Irish, to which he was a witness:

Rugby on BT Sport @btsportrugby

"Eddie Jones will have been impressed" @ugomonye hails eye-catching display from @QuinsRugbyUnion's @ChrisRobshaw. https://t.co/80uId0dFQM

For years now, Robshaw has been a blindside going about his business in an openside's boots; he's done it for his club, and he's done it in the Test arena—all with a smile on his face and a spring in his step.

That in itself is testament to the 29-year-old's quality as a leader figure, the willingness to burden himself in a less natural role for the betterment of the squad throughout much of his 43 caps.

It is, therefore, no surprise to see some team-mates have recently rushed to Robshaw's aid to insist upon him keeping his place as captain, and Gavin Mairs of the Telegraph reported the flanker himself is "dying" to be kept on.

Wishing to keep the role himself is all well and good; it shows passion and defiance when all seems lost, something the Red Rose could have used more of at the World Cup. But it helps that fellow captain candidate and club-mate Mike Brown has also backed the pack figure, per Sky Sports Audio:

Sky Sports Audio @SkySportsAudio

Brown backs Robshaw for captaincy https://t.co/TdL75Ypura via @audioBoom

The temptation for England now is to ring the changes on a widespread scale, following such a poor run at this year's home tournament. But there are no guarantees shifting so drastically will improve matters, especially when Robshaw's qualities as a leader are quite commendable.

Rugby World writer Ian Stafford disagrees and asked for a "new era, please" under Jones—the question at a later date will be whether that new era is for the better or worse:

Ian Stafford @IanStaffs

I'd love Conor O'Shea to be my boss. He always backs his man. But don't agree Chris Robshaw should still be in England team. New era please.

Almost as long as Robshaw has been played at seven, there have been calls to start him back in his more natural abode at six, which seems like a no-brainer for any coach hoping to squeeze the best out of him.

On the pitch, Robshaw tends to reach double-digits in tackles made for just about every England game in which he plays and consistently stands out as something of a defensive totem, which is something one wants in a captain.

Jon Super/Associated Press

What might be up for debate is his influence in the dressing room and his decision-making in clutch circumstances, or perhaps Jones is merely seeking a different personality in his appointment, someone with a little more "grit."

England promise to build on the Lancaster foundations and potentially reach new heights under Jones, but if anyone deserves to keep their spot for the time being and capitalise upon that rejuvenation, it's the always-benevolent Robshaw.


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