Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Enjoy it while it lasts, England

Calling for more help...former England rugby wing Lesley Vainikolo, who emerged out of the Mangere East league club. Photo / Photosport
Calling for more help...former England rugby wing Lesley Vainikolo, who emerged out of the Mangere East league club. Photo / Photosport

Enjoy it while it lasts, England, because it won't. It never does with English rugby.

We are in the middle of a promising storm for England, one which might get close to perfect by World Cup time. But challenge the All Blacks' global power? I don't think so.

England may claim a crown and come to enjoy a regular visit to the world number two spot if they play their hand well, but New Zealand holds the trump card - the Polynesian factor.

England rugby will need to go hunting for a range of Polynesian/Melanesian talent to contemplate ruling the test world. The question is not how far has England rugby come under their Aussie coach Eddie Jones, but how far is it prepared to go in using its financial advantages.

Ranking winning runs is a phoney war, of comparing apples and oranges while logic gets the banana skin.

It's all good fun, and fairly meaningless. The great news is that the Jones revolution has rugby flying high, and has turned the All Blacks clash with England next year into a rip snorter of a prospect. That England only bob to the surface now and then is certainly no credit to them however.

They use their considerable financial and playing number advantages very poorly, and struggle to even rise above their comparatively tiny neighbours.

And until England find ways of boosting its Polynesian content in a meaningful way rather than picking up recruits now and then, they will never consistently match New Zealand.

I also believe this subject should be debated as a core reason for the decline of South Africa as a rugby power. History is festering, as financial and political problems rot South African rugby, but the Springboks would struggle to compete anyway because they don't have Polynesian footballers in the ranks.

New Zealand had nothing like its current dominance when the rugby world was essentially a white man's game. Before South Africa was kicked out of the international community because of the disgusting apartheid system, and pre the Polynesian rugby revolution, the Springboks held a narrow advantage over the All Blacks.

It is the masterful blending of the European and Polynesian/Melanesian sporting cultures which has propelled New Zealand rugby so far ahead. Players with the size, power and speed of Julian Savea, Jonah Lomu, Waisake Naholo et al. do not emerge from the European playing stocks. The England players still look clunky when compared to Israel Dagg, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown and Ardie Savea.

No England player will ever matching the power and ball-playing genius of Sonny Bill Williams. And for sheer hitting power - try Jerome Kaino.

The mixing of the various cultural football strengths at junior levels in New Zealand means quality rubs off on each other. English rugby will never have that. Jonathan Joseph or Rieko Ioane? I'll take Ioane, thanks very much.

Every now and then England get a burst of cohesion, as in the current era and early 2000s. But just as certainly these new dawns have rapid sunsets, before a long plunge into darkness.

Yes, England has equalled New Zealand's run of 18 test victories, but its 18 per cent win ratio against the All Blacks is embarrassing. Since the heroic England victory in Wellington in 2003, England have won just one of 15 tests.

Jones can celebrate impending "greatness" all he likes, but you wouldn't find the All Blacks getting triumphal over a couple of Rugby Championship titles.

England are flat track bullies in the Six Nations, and not very good ones over any length of time.

Come on people, we all know the score. The burst under Eddie Jones is part of a well established pattern of ups and long downs rather than signalling the permanent rise of the red rose.

- NZ Herald

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