BBC Sport rugbyunionwelsh


Related BBC sites

Page last updated at 16:07 GMT, Thursday, 3 February 2011

There's a Will for England's new breed

Will Carling on the march through the Wales defence
England centre Will Carling powers through the Wales defence in 1996

2011 Six Nations Championship - Wales v England
Venue: Millennium Stadium Date: Friday, 4 February Kick-off: 1945 GMT
Coverage: Watch live on BBC One from 1930 (BBC Wales and Red Button from 1900); listen on BBC Radio 5 live and BBC Radio Wales; live text commentary on BBC Sport website and mobiles

by Steffan Garrero

There is a story told by Will Carling that best sums up the Welsh attitude towards the English rugby team.

The England captain is walking down Westgate Street in Cardiff on the day before a Five Nations match at the Arms Park.

A white van pulls up to curb, the window is wound down and Carling is called over.

Thinking he is about to be asked for directions, he walks over to the van.

'Go back to England, you Toff' is the edited version of the message delivered by the driver.

Ben Foden
England full-back once auditioned for the Pop Idol television talent show

"I've heard that one a few times," Ben Foden says with a chuckle at the England team hotel in Surrey.

"I think that was the same year that Carling wore a baseball cap and dark glasses around Cardiff so he wouldn't be recognised. Unfortunately he was shopping with Martin Bayfield at the time!"

The Northampton full-back throws his head back laughing at the image of Carling trying to remain incognito alongside Hagrid's body double.

"We've heard a lot of stories about the Welsh fans and the crowd at the Millennium over the past couple of weeks," Foden adds. I'm looking forward to it all… I think."

It is a fresh faced Foden who greets us with a smile, despite being at the end of a two-hour media session.

He is clean shaven and happy to chat.

The trademark four-day stubble has gone for now "hopefully it'll grow back in time for the match, it's a good look!"

Foden is part of the new breed of England players; fearless, free-running and innovative.

Martin Johnson's back three pose a threat not seen by the Carling generation.

What's more they have the license to entertain. Just watch a video of Chris Ashton's try against Australia in November, if you need a reminder of the threat posed to Wales by England's backline.

"I wouldn't say it's a free licence to do whatever we like," he is quick to correct.

England boss Martin Johnson says his team must enjoy the pressure in Cardiff

"If it goes well then it's ok, but if it goes wrong then we're in trouble with Johnno.

"It's great to have a bit of counter-attacking freedom though, you have to trust your instincts and that's what I enjoy."

The style of play from England is perhaps more 'Welsh' than many would dare to admit and the former Sale Sharks scrum-half is excited by going head-to-head with makeshift Wales full-back James Hook.

"I've played against Hooky throughout age-group rugby. We know each other's game inside out. He must being doing something special to impress Warren Gatland enough that he's dropped one of the best full-backs in the world to the bench."

Hook starts the Six Nations in place of his fellow France-bound Ospreys colleague Lee Byrne.

It is one of Foden's Northampton team-mates who has been thrust into the headlines by Wales's coach Gatland in the build up to the tournament.

The New Zealander branded his fellow countryman Dylan Hartley "a choker", looking to put pressure on the England hooker.

Again, Foden's face cracks into a huge smile.

"It's all very funny and good banter," he said.

Hurt Dylan Hartley out to prove Warren Gatland wrong

"Dylan's a quiet character and I'll be as interested as everyone else to see how he responds to it on Friday night."

England's new breed arrives in Cardiff hoping for their first win at the Millennium Stadium since 2003.

"I can't remember the first time I watched a Wales v England match to be honest," Foden continues.

"My dad was a massive rugby nut when I was growing up so the 5 nations was always on the TV and this was the era when we were winning too!"

"Our record on the road hasn't been great of late, so it'd be good to get the tournament off to a winning start on Friday night"

* Steffan presents Radio Wales' coverage of Wales v England from 1900 BST from the Millennium Stadium and You can follow him on Twitter @SteffGBBC .

Print Sponsor


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2017 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.