Richard Wigglesworth: England are more interested in winning than entertaining

Richard Wigglesworth: England are more interested in winning than entertaining

Richard Wigglesworth insists winning trumps entertainment as he ruled out England adopting a ‘Bazball’ approach to take on the world this autumn.

While Ben Stokes’ cricket team have contributed to a thrilling Ashes series against Australia, adhering to the swashbuckling instincts dubbed ‘Bazball’, Wigglesworth believes pragmatism offers England their best chance of success at the World Cup.

Entrusted with overseeing Steve Borthwick’s attack after being recruited from Leicester at the end of the season, the 40-year-old is devising a gameplan that is “tactically flexible”.

“The beauty about rugby is there is loads of different ways to do it. If we all try to play the same way it wouldn’t be entertaining,” former England scrum-half Wigglesworth said.

Ben Stokes' England play attacking cricket
Ben Stokes’ England play attacking cricket (Mike Egerton/PA)

“We want to be tactically flexible. Does the word entertainment come into my thinking when I am planning? No. It’s about the best way to play. The best way to play and attack will end up being entertaining.

“There are games you have to go and win in a different way and I want us to be able to do that and make sure that when the time is right, we can move the ball as well as anyone.

“We are aiming to have the best plan for the players we’ve got. I’m not going to say: ‘this is how we want to attack.’ What we have to do is match the right personnel on the field with the best attack for them.

“We will attack well. We don’t want to be passive, we want to go and make sure we cause some problems.”

Wigglesworth has been keeping tabs on the Ashes and while England have fallen 2-0 behind entering the third Test on Thursday, he admires a set-up that provides players with freedom.

“It’s funny because they’ve been lauded, then they lose two games in an Ashes series and there are questions. That’s sport and that’s why you have to try to do what you can to win,” Wigglesworth said.

“Hopefully they can turn it around and win three in a row, so they’re back to being lauded again.

“I’m really interested in the environment they’ve got there – where players can go out and express themselves and be happy. That is certainly something that we want to do.

“We want players to enjoy being part of this England squad. We are really conscious of that.

“I’m definitely interested in the Ashes as a spectator, from afar. Maybe with this rose on my chest now, I might be able to visit a few places and pick their brains.

Steve Borthwick raided his Leicester coaching team for the appointment of Richard Wigglesworth
Steve Borthwick, pictured, raided his Leicester coaching team for the appointment of Richard Wigglesworth (Adam Davy/PA)

“They’re pretty busy at the moment but I’ll be sending some messages and seeing if I can. There will be many a sport I try and tap into, to try to learn from.”

Wigglesworth is England’s fourth attack coach since the 2019 World Cup but unlike his predecessors Simon Amor, Martin Gleeson and Nick Evans, he brings with him the experience of having being involved in three previous tournaments.

In 2011 and 2015 he was present as a player while in 2019 he was an assistant coach with Canada.

“There’s an overriding sense of disappointment as both 2011 and 2015 didn’t go well,” Wigglesworth said.

“I want to give the players the best chance to experience something positive they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, not look back like I did with a tinge of regret and disappointment. Our job is to help them as much as we can.”