Bryan Habana: England coach Stuart Lancaster is working towards something special

London Evening Standard

England’s match against Ireland tomorrow is a final chance for Stuart Lancaster’s men to make a statement before the Rugby World Cup.

Any optimism generated by the first warm-up win, against France, was destroyed in Paris seven days later, when England were battered for 70 minutes, conceded a host of needless penalties and were lucky to come away with just a five-point defeat.

England may have failed to convince then but one notable voice talking up their cause is Bryan Habana.

The winger was IRB Player of the Year when he helped South Africa win the 2007 World Cup and will be on these shores this month for another tilt at the Webb Ellis Cup.

“I definitely think they are working towards something special,” he tells me. “Under the leadership of Stuart Lancaster and Chris Robshaw, they have done some wonderful things over the last three to four years.

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West Ham renting the Olympic stadium shows how the British state has failed in the modern sports business

Inside World Football

West Ham must have hoped that the dust had finally settled on their move next year to the Olympic Stadium. Not a bit of it. There are growing calls for public inquiry by fans of other football clubs into the decision by Boris Johnson to let the Hammers rent the stadium built by taxpayers’ money for the 2012 Olympics, an occasion of great British national celebration.

What makes this very interesting is how this controversy has reignited. This is due to the media, in particular the Daily Mail, which a few weeks ago ran a detailed comment page article on the saga highlighting how many aspects of the deal between Johnson and West Ham have not been made public.

There is a suggestion that this is part of a wider campaign by the paper to get Boris. The paper has a reputation for feisty campaigns and it is possible editor Paul Dacre has got Boris in his sights. However, if this is what prompted it the paper clearly wants to be fair for this was followed by the paper’s celebrated sports writer, Martin Samuel, interviewing Karen Brady, the club’s vice chairman, providing a defence for the deal. Since then David Sullivan, the co-owner, has gone further in the London Evening Standard arguing that West Ham far from benefiting will actually lose out by moving to the Olympic stadium.

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Welcome to my website which has a flavour of my activities over 30 years as a writer and broadcaster. There are details of my books, articles, broadcasting, public speaking and awards.

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My new book Game Changer is about the rise and rise of the English Premier League.

The Premier League’s rise was a spectacular cocktail of events, few of which were properly anticipated let alone planned for. Game Changer takes us on a mesmerizing journey charting this rise, involving high stakes, multi-billion pound deals, powerful and rich people, and the future of the beautiful game.

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The Spirit of the Game is now available in paperback.

The spirit of the game was first nurtured on the playing fields of the English public school and this Corinthian spirit was then exported around the world. Today, sport is dominated by corruption, money and celebrity. Yet, we still believe and talk about the game as if it had a higher moral purpose. This book tells the story of how sport has lost its original spirit and how it emerged in the 20th century as the most powerful political tool in the world.

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