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British free-for-all after Hansen comments

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    26 Mar 2018     Getty Images

Hansen highlighted that Ireland's use of a central contracts system allowed them to manage their players better to ensure they were allowed time for rest and recuperation, and that had been borne out in their achieving the third Grand Slam in their history.

Veteran journalist Peter Jackson said in The Rugby Paper said England's implosion had 'prompted the resurrection of a myth masquerading as truth – too many players flogged through too many matches'.

Jackson also took a swipe at World Cup winning England coach Sir Clive Woodward who said England had run out of steam. But if that was the case, Jackson asked, what were Wales' and Scotland's excuses for finishing almost as far behind?

"The reason for Ireland's unprecedented supremacy is blindingly obvious – better players and better coaches. Despite that the central-contracting policy has hardly over-achieved on a global scale."

Another Rugby Paper columnist former England prop Jeff Probyn chimed in with: "As for the continual comments about fatigue because of the Lions, that is just a rubbish excuse being used to explain why players look tired at the end of the game."

Probyn said all players were tired at the end of games, those who won were elated and those who lost looked dead on their feet.

"Even back in the old days, when players were supposed to be on a break at the end of the season, we had to keep on training or fitness levels would drop and require an extensive programme of hard work to get back to previous levels, so I would assume it is worse now," he said.

However, Hansen's views were backed by others who have been involved at the coalface in coaching.

In his Mail on Sunday column, Woodward said rest and welfare were still issues in the game for players. He said they did not appear to be taking collective responsibility for ensuring they arrived at every Test in the best mental and physical shape.

"If players are feeling genuinely tired and jaded they need to convey that but please do not say it after the horse has bolted or sit back and assume your players' union will fix this. If you need a game or a summer tour off, explain that…If you are exhausted let them know," he said.

Players had to be selfish and bloody-minded at times because that was the attitude that won World Cups, he said.

Another former Lions' coach and player and Scottish international Ian McGeechan said in the Sunday Telegraph, "The fact is, there is too much rugby played in this country. We know that.

"We know, too, that the game is getting more physical. Something has to give."

McGeechan said it all had to do with the way the Premiership was set up when rugby went professional.

And, finally, the Telegraph revealed that England coach Eddie Jones had told the chief executive of the Rugby Football Union, Steve Brown, that he was concerned at the way England's top players had been overworked by their clubs.

"Brown admitted that Jones had mentioned the workloads of regular internationals to him. Although he refused to be drawn on specifics, the inference was that the England head coach had been keen for certain players to receive greater rest."