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Sam Burgess accuses ex-coach Mike Ford of trying to 'sabotage' Stuart Lancaster as England boss

Burgess called Ford a ‘snake’ as he opened up about England’s dreadful 2015 World Cup campaign.

Sam Burgess, pictured in action during the 2015 World Cup.
Sam Burgess, pictured in action during the 2015 World Cup.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

DUAL RUGBY INTERNATIONAL Sam Burgess called his ex-club coach Mike Ford a “snake” and accused him of “sabotage” as he opened up about England’s disastrous 2015 World Cup.

Burgess, who made a high-profile switch from rugby league to union just months before the tournament, claimed former Ireland defence coach Ford used him as a pawn in a bid to become England boss.

Burgess retired last year after a glittering rugby league career, but the ill-fated World Cup campaign stands out as a low point in his career.

He said he confronted then Bath coach Ford after the World Cup, when Stuart Lancaster’s England suffered the indignity of becoming the first tournament hosts ever to crash out at the pool stage.

“I came back from the World Cup and I literally went in his office and said, ‘Hey Mike, I don’t trust you. I think you’re playing games behind my back,’” Burgess told the House of Rugby podcast.

“‘You used me as a bit of a pawn in your game of chess. I can’t put my boots on and play for you every week.’”

Burgess said Ford used his son – England out-half George – to “infiltrate” the team camp. He also said the elder Ford had stirred up stories in the media to unsettle him.

“I just think people behind the scenes were playing a deeper game,” he said.

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“Mike Ford wanted the England coaching job, so his job was to try and sabotage Lancaster, and his decision-making and his coaching methods.”

He added: “I’ll never forget Mike’s face when I said to him, ‘Mike I don’t respect you any more, I really don’t. I think you’re a bit of a snake.’

“And I’ll never forget the little quiver that I got from him.”

Following Lancaster’s resignation from England in November 2015, he went on to join Leinster as a senior coach and has been deemed instrumental to the eastern province’s double Guinness Pro14 success and 2018 Heineken Champions Cup triumph during his tenure working in tandem with head coach Leo Cullen.

© – AFP, 2020

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