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Healey: England should buy a SuperRugby franchise

Article Published: Friday 6 November 2015
Edited by: Rugbyweek.com.
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Healey: England should buy a SuperRugby franchise

Former England utility back Austin Healey has called for the Rugby Football Union to take drastic measures by buying a Super Rugby franchise.

Healey says that English Rugby - in particular this season's Aviva Premiership - is heavily lacking in ball handling skills and the solution could be for England to buy a Super Rugby franchise.

The former British and Irish Lions player says that the RFU should use some of the money they made from hosting the Rugby World Cup by investing in a Super Rugby franchise to help develop English player skills.

Writing in his column for the Telegraph Healey said, "I would propose something even more innovative and imaginative - setting up an English Super Rugby franchise."

Healey says that in the English game the backs might only touch the ball 10 times a game and it's not enough to help them develop their skills. Healey adds that the forwards could also benefit from "being exposed to different conditions, different environments and different ideas."

"It's not like the RFU are short of a bob or two. They generated Ł40million from hosting the World Cup so they could easily afford to buy out an existing Super Rugby franchise and fill it with English players they want to develop."

Healey says that if England had a Super Rugby side it could fill the squad with players they believe have potential and their skills could be developed by playing Super Rugby.

"If you said to Jack Nowell that we want you to go and play in Perth for three years but we would bring you back for the Six Nations I am sure he would bite your hand off. If I was a back playing today in the Aviva Premiership I don't think I would stay."

"It is not like we have not got any skilled players here with Danny Cipriani, Henry Slade and many of the forwards having wonderful hands. Yet they only seem to use those skills in the training paddock. "

Healey goes on to say that "the game in England still revolves the set-piece" and for England to catch up with the Southern Hemisphere English players "would greatly benefit from being exposed to different conditions, different environments and different ideas. There's a reason we don't develop guys like Michael Hooper or David Pocock in this country."

"People dismiss Super Rugby as touch rugby with no tackling and no contact. That's not true but there is a reason for that: they run at space rather than defenders," said Healey.

"Off the field, English rugby is fantastic, making money and filling stadiums. We are currently not setting any benchmarks in world rugby on the field, so what's the use of making money if you don't know how to use it?"

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