Vickery insists Eddie Jones and Co must stop excuses and deliver now
‘Stick your journey up your f***ing jacksie!’: England World Cup winner Phil Vickery insists Eddie Jones and Co must stop excuses and deliver NOW as he slams comfortable mindset creeping into rugby but insists current crop have the talent to win
- Phil Vickery became an England legend when he won the World Cup in 2003
- He captained England to the final of the 2007 edition when they lost to South Africa in Paris
- The former tighthead prop says the culture has become too comfortable
- He believes that the current crop have what it takes to win on the world stage
As the son of a Cornish dairy farmer, Phil Vickery has always been one for straight talking and the World Cup winner has a clear message for Eddie Jones and England.
‘The players need to get out of the mindset where they’re thinking they’ll be around for the next decade and there will be other opportunities,’ Vickery told Sportsmail.
‘It’s about doing it right now. They talk about being on a journey. I really contest this word. Stick your journey up your f****** jacksie. I get pumped up about this because it’s very important.
Phil Vickery became an England rugby legend in 2003 when he won the World Cup
‘I think talking of a journey is an easy thing to say. It’s one that’s crept into rugby.
‘When the players are old and wrinkly like I am now, they will want to be remembered for the stuff they did not the journey they went on.’
Vickery earned legendary status as part of the 2003 England side that conquered the world before captaining the team beaten by South Africa in the 2007 final. Now 46, he will lace up his boots once more to feature in the testimonial match of former British & Irish Lions team-mate James Hook on June 10.
He has called on the current players to show a better attitude ahead of a crucial 12 months
‘For me England’s preparation for the World Cup starts with the first Test in Australia this summer,’ Vickery continued. ‘England have the right players and coaching set-up – now they need to put that out on the field. I’ve no doubt in the ability of the players.
‘What we all want to see is the England from the last World Cup.’ England head coach Jones guided his team to the final of the 2019 World Cup, but he has won just two games in each of the last two Six Nations.
The Australian has talked of his ‘new England’ evolving and has received firm backing to take his team to France in 2023 by the Rugby Football Union. It will be his last tournament as coach.
Despite a poor start to the 2007 tournament, Phil Vickery’s side made the final in France, agonisingly losing to South Africa
Jones’ players have also echoed their coach’s mantra of ongoing development and learning from defeat, but a little over a year out from the next World Cup, Vickery knows there is no substitute for success.
In the build-up to 2003, Vickery’s England won 22 consecutive games at Twickenham and 14 straight matches against the three southern hemisphere giants of New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
For all the talent in their ranks, Jones’ England couldn’t be further away from those sorts of numbers right now.
‘The build-up to 2003 had a massive influence on us winning that World Cup,’ Vickery said.
Phil Vickery has said England have the right players and coaching set up to be successful
‘Losing can become a habit as much as winning and if you can win even when you’re not playing very well, that’s a sign of a good team. At the 2003 World Cup we didn’t play that well.
‘I don’t say that arrogantly. Everyone has this vision we played some amazing rugby. We didn’t. We had a solid scrum and line-out drive. We basically had three moves all of which involved Ben Cohen knocking it up the middle! It was three points all the time from Jonny Wilkinson.
‘We were winners, but that didn’t just start at that World Cup. It’s been difficult for England. There has been quite a lot of negativity around with poor results and the team not performing at a high enough level for a long enough period of time.
The England tighthead looks to hand off James Hook in a game between England and Wales
‘But as they’ve proved before, they’re more than capable. The summer tour is going to be one hell of a challenge with three Tests in Australia. I’m actually incredibly excited by this England because I think it’s a very talented group, but I know talent is just a part of it – it’s not everything!’
Vickery has admitted his own welfare struggles in retirement. He has also seen his fellow England World Cup winner Steve Thompson diagnosed with early onset dementia. Vickery will put that to one side to turn out in Hook’s Testimonial match at The Gnoll in Neath.
The pair toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009.
‘A lot of people forget I fell in love with rugby at Bude Rugby Club where it was all amount the amateur era and the camaraderie,’ said Vickery.
Phil Vickery holds fond memories of the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa
‘I’ve always believed rugby is a game for everybody. I was at Dave Sims’ memorial who we lost at the age of 52 due to a heart attack. I also played in a game in memory of Jack Adams.
‘What happened to Jack was dreadful, but the atmosphere at Kingsholm with his wife and children there was a celebration. It was great to see everyone come together. It gave me hope that for all the negativity we have around our game at the moment, we do have good people in it.
‘I’m quite a deep soul like that. Me turning up for James’ game is first and foremost for him. I know he’d do it for me and if me going down helps him out, then that’s great.
‘I think Hooky was ahead of his time. James was an incredible rugby player.
‘I’m not sure if it’s the Cornishman in me but I’ve always had a big respect for the Welsh and the way they play. I’ll probably get a load of grief down there, but the Welsh don’t mean it!’
James Hook was ‘ahead of his time’, believes Phil Vickery as they get prepared for the Welshman’s testimonial in Neath
Tickets for James Hook’s Testimonial match in Neath on June 10 are available online only and can be purchased at jameshooktestimonal.com and neathrfc.com
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