House of Payne: There is no doubt who should lead England in the next rugby World Cup
Whether or not England win the Six Nations Championship this weekend it seems that, at long last, Chris Robshaw has become established as England captain.
Last season’s crushing defeat in Cardiff could have provided a terminal blow for lesser men than the Harlequins flanker, costing him what had appeared to be a nailed on place on the British Lions tour as well as raising speculation ove rhis fitness to lead his country.
He also overcame a setback in 2012 when he was labelled “Captain Calamity” in one tabloid after a narrow defeat to South Africa, when he had told Owen Farrell to kick for goal with England trailing by four points in the dying moment.
Even before the current championship, head coach Stuart Lancaster only came down on Robshaw’s side after also shortlisting Tom Wood for the role.
Against that background it is remarkable to think that, on his day of redemption against the Welsh at Twickenham, last weekend Robshaw became third on the all-time list of Red Rose captains.
Robshaw’s 23rd test in charge took him beyond Lawrence Dallaglio (22) and Bill Beaumont (21). Only former Quins hero Will Carling (59) and 2003 World Cup-winning skipper Martin Johnson (39) have captained them more times.
He is probably more in Johnson’s mould than Carling’s – a softly-spoken man who leads by example – and what an example Robshaw set at Twickenham, being both top ball carrier and top tackler for his side.
It was nice to hear Wood singing his skipper’s praises.
“First and foremost he’s a really good guy so he’s easy to follow,” said Wood.
“Because it’s visible for everybody to see, it inspires everybody to strive in the same way.”
Robshaw is an avid reader of autobiographies of other great sporting captains and is the epitome of everything good about Stuart Lancaster’s exciting young England side.
At long last, there is no longer a debate over who should lead England at next year’s World Cup.
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