Danny Care hopes World Cup success for England can make a difference

Danny Care hopes Rugby World Cup success for England can make a difference back home with domestic game in the gutter

  • Championship winners Jersey Reds admitted they are set to enter administration
  • Latest body blow had ripple effects all the way up to the national team

The news of another club going down the pan last week did not take long to filter through to England’s camp in Le Touquet. 

Alex Mitchell’s older brother, James, is a scrum-half at Jersey Reds and was one of 36 players who was left without a job at 7.30am on Thursday. It was another body blow to the sport and the effects rippled all the way up to the national team.

The domestic game is in the gutter. It looks like something washed up by the waves that were crashing down on the northern coast of France last week. Fans are turning their backs and it is not missed by Danny Care that England have a major role to play.

Steve Borthwick’s side have struggled to win hearts and minds. Their performances have been hard to love but they are hoping to inspire a new generation by travelling deep into the knockout stages of the World Cup. They have already booked their place in the quarter-finals and next Saturday’s game against Samoa is a free hit to pick up a few new supporters.

‘When you hear that a team that did so well in the Championship last year is no longer, it’s quite sobering,’ said Care. ‘It’s incredibly sad news, again. I can’t imagine how those guys are feeling. There’s the Irish, Wasps and Worcester situation as well. 

Last season’s Championship winners Jersey Reds have ceased trading due to their financial struggles

Danny Care hopes World Cup success for England can filter down the game

‘I looked at the Premiership launch photographs the other day and it just looked so sparse and bare. It kind of hit home with the 10-team thing… there’s not many. I don’t know what the answer is to how we make this game more sustainable back in England but I hope some people do, because something needs to happen soon.

‘We’re the lucky 33 that are out here on the biggest stage trying to represent everyone. We’d like to win the whole thing, that’s why we’re here. If that’s got a knockdown effect and filters through grass-roots to semi pro to professional, then I hope it does. 

‘My kids are all over the World Cup at the moment. It’s on free-to-air TV, which is massive to reach different audiences and when it’s on a global stage you get that different feel. It draws a bigger audience but it will hopefully inspire a few more boys and girls across the country to pick up a rugby ball rather than a football.’

Grassroots participation figures have fallen to the extent that the RFU put out a press release about how to organise games if teams cannot find 15 players. One prominent figure told The Mail on Sunday that the RFU should be streamlined and clubs franchised with a cap on their budgets.

Care said: ‘The TV revenue money is the big thing, isn’t it? You look over here and PROD2 [France’s second division] is getting shown all the time. I don’t know what TV stuff the Championship gets these days, if anything. The whole thing needs a good look at.’

Care’s first focus is next Saturday’s fixture in Lille. England cut loose against a weak Chilean team, breaking out of their kick-heavy structure to play running rugby. The sight of Marcus Smith jinking around the pitch will draw in the casual audience but Borthwick may well change weapons for the challenges ahead.

‘We took some positive steps forward with our attacking game,’ said Care. ‘We’ve seen some tier one teams struggle to assert their dominance against the tier two teams, so we were really pleased to get our game going. We try to pick up bits every week and that leaves a big emphasis on scoring more tries. We probably won’t get as much ball as we got against Chile but we want to run and score tries.

‘When the Samoans get hold of you, you know about it. It’s in their DNA. They like to come out and try to get you. Our attack guys will be looking at ways to work on that.You’re never going to play the perfect game but hopefully we’ll just keep improving.’

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