As the son of a Cornish dairy farmer, Phil Vickery has always been an advocate for honest conversation and the World Cup winner has a clear message for Eddie Jones and England.
“Gamers need to get out of the mindset where they think they will be there for the next decade and there will be other opportunities,” said Vickery Sportsmail.
“It’s about doing it now. They talk about being on the go. I really question that word. Take a trip to your fucking jacks. I am excited about this because it is very important.
Phil Vickery became a rugby legend in England in 2003 when he won the World Cup
“I think talking about travel is easy to say. It’s one that has crept into rugby.
“When the players are as old and wrinkled as I am now, they will want to be remembered for things they didn’t do during the journey they took.”
Vickery earned legendary status as part of the 2003 England team that conquered the world before captaining the team defeated by South Africa in the 2007 final. Now 46, he is tying his shoes again to take part in a test match for former British & Irish Lions teammate James Hook on June 10.
He called on current players to demonstrate a better attitude ahead of the crucial 12 months
“For me, England’s preparation for the World Cup starts with the first test in Australia this summer,” continued Vickery. “England has the right players and coaching set-up – now they have to show it on the pitch. I have no doubts about the skill of the players.
“What we all want to see is England from the last World Cup.” England head coach Jones led his team to the 2019 World Cup final, but has only won two games in each of the last two nations.
The Australian spoke of the evolution of his “new England” and received strong support to move his team to France via Rugby Football Union in 2023. This will be his last tournament as a coach.
Despite a poor start to the 2007 tournament, Phil Vickery’s team made it to the final in France, painfully losing to South Africa
Jones’ men also repeated the mantra of their trainer about continuous development and learning from failure, but just over a year before the next World Cup, Vickery knows there is no substitute for success.
In preparation for 2003, Vickery’s England won 22 consecutive games at Twickenham and 14 matches in a row against three giants from the southern hemisphere from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia.
For all the talent in their ranks, Jones’ England couldn’t be further away from such numbers now.
“The preparations for 2003 had a huge impact on our victory in the World Cup,” said Vickery.
Phil Vickery said England had the right players and coaches to be successful
“Losing can become as much a habit as winning, and if you can win, even if you don’t play very well, it’s a sign of a good team. We didn’t play that well at the 2003 World Cup.
– I’m not saying that arrogantly. Everyone has a vision that we played amazing rugby. We didn’t. We had a solid scrum and line-out. We basically had three moves, all of which included Ben Cohen crashing into the middle! That was all three points from Jonny Wilkinson.
“We were winners, but it didn’t start with this World Cup. England was having a hard time. There have been quite a few negative feedback with poor results and the team hasn’t been operating at a high enough level for long enough.
The Englishman wants to hand over James Hook in the match between England and Wales
“But as proved before, they are more than capable.” The summer tour will be a hell of a challenge with three tests in Australia. In fact, I’m incredibly excited about this England because I think it’s a very talented group, but I know talent is only part of it – that’s not all!
Vickery admitted to his own struggle for prosperity in retirement. He also saw his fellow World Cup winner in England, Steve Thompson, diagnosed with early-onset dementia. Vickery puts that aside to show up in the Hook’s Testimonial match at The Gnoll in Neath.
The couple toured South Africa with the Lions in 2009.
“A lot of people forget that I fell in love with rugby at the Bude Rugby Club, where it was all in the era of amateurs and camaraderie,” said Vickery.
Phil Vickery has fond memories of the 2009 British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa
“I have always believed rugby is a game for everyone. I was at the statue of Dave Sims, who we lost at 52 to a heart attack. I also played a game in memory of Jack Adams.
“What happened to Jack was terrible, but the atmosphere in Kingsholm with his wife and children was like a celebration. It was great seeing everyone together. It gave me hope that despite all the negativity we have around our game at the moment, we do have good people in it.
“I am such a deep soul. Showing up to James is primarily for him. I know he would do this for me, and if my coming down helps him, great.
– I think Hooky was ahead of his time. James was an amazing rugby player.
“I’m not sure if that’s Cornishman in me, but I’ve always had great respect for the Welsh people and the way they play. I will probably get a lot of regret there, but the Welsh people don’t mean that!
James Hook “was ahead of his time,” believes Phil Vickery as he prepared for his Welshman’s testimony in Neath
Tickets for the James Hook’s Testimonial game in Neath on June 10 are only available online and can be purchased at jameshooktestimonal.com and neathrfc.com