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Ford: Culture change worked

Defence coach Mike Ford has revealed England are only on the Grand Slam trail because they eradicated a culture of fear and selfishness from the squad.

England are unbeaten after three RBS 6 Nations championship games for the first time since 2003 and can take another giant step towards the clean sweep with victory over Scotland on Sunday.

"After the autumn of 2009 the coaches decided the mindset and environment we created in the camp had to change. We had to have an attacking mindset," Ford said.

Just over a year ago, Martin Johnson's management team reviewed England's dismal autumn campaign of 2009 and concluded something dramatic had to change. England had stuttered to a 16-9 victory over Argentina and lost to both Australia and New Zealand, matches Ford now concedes they never had any chance of winning.

Johnson and his coaches were demanding England stick a pre-prescribed game-plan. They did not trust the players and so were unwilling to allow them any kind of decision-making control. This not only eroded confidence, but it also created an environment where the players lived in fear of being dropped.

Ford continued: "At the time we needed to score 20 points against a Six Nations team to win. Against the southern hemisphere teams we needed to score 25 or 27 and we were nowhere near that.

"We played New Zealand that autumn and lost 19-6. They only scored one try but we were never going to win that game in a month of Sundays because we weren't scoring enough points.

"We encouraged the players to go at the opposition and not fear they will be dropped if they drop the ball or have a bad pass. It took players a bit of time to trust that we wouldn't hang players out to dry.

"It has been a two-way thing. The players have probably come here in the past and just looked after themselves thinking 'England are not playing well so what do I need to do to keep in for next week? I am going to be selfish and make sure my performance is all right'.

"But in rugby you need a team not 15 individuals playing well. We have set up five more meetings with player input and empowered the players a lot more whereas before we (as management) were probably 'tell, tell, tell'."


From Belfast Telegraph