SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: England were mad to kick Andy Farrell and Mike Catt into touch after the 2015 World Cup disappointment… the pair will be out to prove a point by guiding Ireland to victory at Twickenham
- Owen Farrell and Mike Catt were axed by England after the 2015 World Cup
- At the start of their coaching careers and they have since done the hard yards
- The pair will line-up with Ireland against England at Twickenham on Saturday
I have watched Ireland’s progress since their disappointing 2019 World Cup with mixed emotions.
I’ve loved their exciting, fluid, high-tempo approach but as an English fan, I wish Andy Farrell and Mike Catt were still at the heart of the England set-up.
They paid the price for their part in England’s disappointing 2015 World Cup. Stuart Lancaster was rightly replaced but it was ridiculous to boot out his assistants as well.
Owen Farrell’s Ireland are fast, no-nonsense, consistent and skilful, with the X-factor
Farrell and Catt were at the start of their coaching careers and the lessons they learned were part of the process coaches need. If you have been through the mill you come back stronger. Graham Henry and Steve Hansen post-2007 and myself in 1999 are examples.
Farrell has done the hard yards and realised that he had lots to learn about union before he could coach a team.
Ireland placed faith in him after the World Cup and Farrell was intent on unleashing his version of union which borrows heavily on the skills, high-tempo, fitness and power of those great Wigan rugby league sides.
Ireland are now playing a similar style to Farrell’s Wigan – fast, no-nonsense, consistent, skilful, with X-factor players when required.
Mike Catt has done the hard yards coaching with London Irish, England, Italy and Ireland
It’s not easy to change a team’s DNA when you have been part of the previous regime. But Farrell has – he ripped up the playbook.
He also parked his ego and made a logical decision to hand the iconic Paul O’Connell a role. Many coaches would see it as a threat to their authority but he was the best man for the job. The appointment says more about Farrell than anything he has done as a coach.
As for Catt, what a talent. He was key to our 2003 World Cup win on and off the pitch. Like Farrell, he has done the hard yards coaching with London Irish, England, Italy and now Ireland.
Two Englishmen singing from the same attacking hymn sheet, with a point to prove to those at Twickenham. Beating the All Blacks in an autumn Test is one thing. Beating England at Twickenham in the Six Nations is another. It is their biggest challenge yet as they return to their old stomping ground.
England coaches Stuart Lancaster, Farrell and Catt were axed after the 2015 World Cup