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.
“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 flyhalf 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.”
LIST | Top 5 Fallouts Between Players and Coaches
Just like the sun rises every morning and sets every evening, the Finn Russell and Gregor Townsend war is rumbling on, with neither side backing down from the fight.
It’s become one of the most prolific fallouts in recent times between a player and a coach, with Scotland’s Six Nations campaign being jeopardised as a result. But how many famous fallouts can you remember off the field?
Here are five times players and coaches locked horns in the public eye.
“Kick the coaches out”
Toulon’s controversial owner Mourad Boudjellal has never been shy of making his voice heard, but this was one occasion where him rearing his head managed to really kick the cauldron. France had endured a tricky Six Nations in 2019, and were now touring Japan where they would embark on a World Cup run to the quarter finals, where they were eventually eliminated by Wales following a controversial red card.
England were up next for Les Bleus, but a rumoured fallout between captain Guilhem Guirado, and former coach Jacques Brunel in the build up led to Boudjellal’s call to arms for the French players to take action and bring home what would have been a famous World Cup victory.
“You’re there for your career and for your country. You’re there for French rugby and to try to go as far as possible, to see if you can win this World Cup – but we will only get there if you take control. Japan is a magnificent country to visit. Our coaches who are there, I invite you to treat yourself and leave the players to tell their own stories because for years I’ve not understood the game plan of this France team.
“Something is going wrong, so it’s over to you guys [the players] there are guys in this group who will be major coaches in the future kick the coaches out, take control, because we are ready to follow you.”
It was a damming statement to say the least, but it never mattered in the end, as their final pool game was scrapped following Typhoon Hagibis. Their three wins over Argentina, USA and Tonga had sent them on their way to the knockouts regardless of the result. French fans probably won’t mind a rebellion though, as the 2011 World Cup fallout between coach Marc Lièvremont and this players led them to a final which they eventually lost 8-7 to host nation New Zealand.