All of which has given Richard Hill, the director of rugby at Gloucester and now in his fourth season as the England A coach, a few headaches on the sporadic occasions he has been with the team.”We’ve had a complete clear-out since last season and a lot of the older players have gone,” said Hill. Over the last five months, their record has been played four, lost four. Now he needs to help the rest of the team overcome their collective problem.. FEELING sorry for the Celts might be a recurring theme in the Five Nations’ Championship but when it comes to A internationals it is England who appear in need of sympathy. While their senior team still have an outside chance of taking Europe’s premier rugby title, England A go into their final match of the season against Ireland at Richmond on Friday with their thoughts focused more on trying to avert a whitewash.
Traditionally, A teams have been regarded as their countries’ second strings manned by players who are an injury or selectorial whim away from being first-choice internationals – a point amply illustrated by last season’s powerful England line-up which regularly featured names such as Diprose, Back, Greenwood, Cockerill, Archer and Bracken.But as with so many other aspects of English rugby, tradition has been turned on its head and the team has become more of a kindergarten than a finishing school. It was part of my life even then.”The comparisons were inevitable and Fidler admitted: “People expect a lot from you because of whose son you are. I had to live under his mantle a little, although lately I feel I’ve put my own stamp on things.” He certainly has.
I remember that as soon as I was old enough I would throw a rugby ball to Dad in the garden He used to take me to training sessions, then to matches. He has the Fidler elbow – as essential in the line-out now as it was when his father played. He is possessed of a fine pair of hands, sensitive and sure enough to pick up a ball inches from the turf, then to deliver it, unerringly, to a supporting team-mate. He also has the speed and athleticism to reach the breakdown in the first place.
He has, too, the Fidler build: 6ft 5in driven by 18st 7lb of similar muscular aggression.With his background, Fidler’s destiny was decided from the moment he emerged into the world “Rugby was inbred into me,” he said “It was the only option open to me. It was just that lack of discipline in the last five when we came unstuck But we took a big step nearer solving the problem. A lot of it is mental.”He has already had to overcome the mental barrier of following in the footsteps of his famous father, the former Gloucester and England lock But there is much of the old man in the youngster. Fidler, who has also represented England at Under-21, Colts and England Schools 18 Group, insists they can win away “At London Irish last week we dogged it out for 75 minutes.