Frustrating Times

Posted on: 04 July 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Nick relives his final week on tour with England in New Zealand whilst also giving his verdict on the future of summer tours.

I’m back home and enjoying the summer sunshine here after returning from the England tour to New Zealand.

On the playing side I was fairly frustrated and a bit disappointed not to get any game-time whilst we were there.

But on the positive I also got a lot of experience and learnt an awful lot about myself and the game.

Touring can be a sensational experience and I have to say, discovering New Zealand in our time off was a great pleasure.

But tour can also be a lonely experience, especially as you’re so far from home and the differing time zones make contacting friends and family in the UK a little difficult.

We spent a lot of time on the training pitch, we also spent a lot of time bonding but no matter how hard you try, you do miss your home comforts.

Still, apart from the rugby side of things I wouldn’t have change one thing.

As I’ve already said, I was disappointed not to be included in either of the match squads and the guys who went out to represent their country ahead of me did their country proud.

I would have given anything to be included in the side but sometimes things just aren’t meant to be and this experience will no doubt spur me on to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I’m not a good spectator and you prefer to be on the field where you believe you can influence the game a bit more.

The tour, players and coaches have all received a bit of criticism since the second test and we’ve arrived home with various people saying certain things should have been done differently.

But I can say that Rob Andrew handled things very well out in New Zealand and also in England before we travelled out.

It’s easy in hindsight to say certain things should have been done in a certain way or manner but at the time you work on instinct and more often than not Rob was right.

The on-the-pitch performances just weren’t quite up to the standard the players were hoping for and it’s fair to say we deserved both defeats.

New Zealand are incredibly tough to beat on their own turf and despite losing a lot of their World Cup players, they still look like the number one side in the world.

A lot has also been written in the press regarding summer tours and if they’re worth continuing with.

Ireland and Wales also lost two out two games here but Scotland managed a win in Argentina.

It’s not a great return from the Home Nations but there are a number of factors which went against all of us.

The majority of players have come to the end of a gruelling season including a World Cup so fatigue is probably the main source.

All the countries were also hit with withdrawals through injury or players who needed to undergo operations and surgery to be ready for the start of next season.

So sometimes it may feel like you’re coming down to the southern hemisphere with one hand tied behind your back to play.

It’s not ideal but I’m sure I’m one of the majority who believes they are an important leaning curve in world rugby and I sincerely hope they remain on the international calendar.

By Nick Kennedy (23rd June)

Nick Kennedy was part of the England squad that toured New Zealand in June and has been selected in Martin Johnson’s elite training squad for England’s  Autumn internationals.

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