Evening Standard

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England have broken with the old guard following their poor World Cup but Francois Pienaar says the team will only progress if the game in this country is overhauled from top to bottom.

The flanker, who captained South Africa to their epic 1995 World Cup triumph, played for and coached Saracens and believes the disjointed nature of the fixture list is harming the development of talent.

Pienaar told Standard Sport: “The English game suffers from a vicious cycle in the way the season is organised. Having played in England and being still involved with Saracens, I’ve always said the structure of the season baffles me.

“It starts, then you shut down in September and go into Europe, then you start again and shut down for the Six Nations. To produce international winners you need a virtuous cycle. When I played in England I proposed changes but they were ignored. Given the downward cycle England are in, it will be difficult to rebuild unless you look at the entire structure starting at the grass roots, going up to the selection of players, refereeing and the administration.”

Pienaar’s comments came ahead of him collecting an award from the All Party Parliamentary Rugby Union Group. He will attend a dinner at the Commons tonight when MPs will also honour World Cup winners Jonny Wilkinson and John Eales plus Wales’ record try scorer Shane Williams.


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