Over the years, England have been graced with players who sacrifice a lot for their team and put in 110% every time they take to the field. A player that wouldn't even think for a second about the money he was earning and put his body on the line for his country? Lawrence Dallagio and Martin Johnson spring to mind, the sort of player that would inspire teams and really have an impact on the field of play even if they were a late substitute. Lewis Moody would be another example of this, a player that was dogged by injury but still played with heart every time he put on the England shirt.
Are the current England team lacking players like Johnson, Dallagio and Moody nowadays?
Putting the leaked news on player salaries aside, Moody played in a time when English rugby was at its peak during the 2003 winning team, the 2007 losing finalists and this year's World Cup side. So now Moody's England career has come to an end, what has he contributed to the team?
England's 2003 World Cup winning side were what you could call the invincibles, Moody came on in all of England's games during the campaign and put blood, sweat and tears into his game. But his biggest moment came in the final against the Wallabies. Just before he replaced Richard Hill in extra time, Clive Woodward shouted to Moody, "Keep a cool head and don't give away any penalties." A nice thing to say when you going onto the field deep into extra time with the scores at 14-14. A line out deep inside the Australian half was won by Lewis Moody. This line out was what set up Wilkinson for his drop goal, so if he hadn't of won that ball at the line out, England may not have won the World Cup. The one aspect of this winning side was it's determination, all of the people on the pitch were leaders, people that would fight to the death for every ball and play for the England emblem on the shirt rather than the name on the back.
Four years passed and many things had changed with the England team. Clive Woodward had moved on, Captain Martin Johnson had retired and the England team was on a decline from their triumph down under. Moody missed the Six Nations that year and was in line to play against France in a warm up game; unfortunately, he suffered further injury and missed out the first three games of the World Cup for England. In his first game of the tournament against Tonga, he was lauded for England's much improved competition at the breakdown which saw him start against Australia in the quarter finals. Moody was described to of "outshone his illustrious opposite number George Smith, as they beat the Wallabies and progressed to the semis with a tie against France.
England went on to play South Africa in the final and just fell short of what would have been a Cinderella story for England, considering they started the tournament so poorly. The team that went to France for the tournament were but a shadow of their winning predecessors, England were going through a transitional period at the time and the team that went to the World Cup wasn't half the team that won the tournament four years earlier. In some cases, if England did win the 2007 World Cup, would they have deserved it? Although Moody wasn't captain of the team at the time, he still displayed the qualities of a strong leader to everyone around him. Only time would tell as to when he was to be captain of England.
Moody was named as captain in 2010 for England tour to Australia as his rally cry for international matches "Together we all stand, together we're England . He retained the captaincy for this year's World Cup despite not playing any of the Six Nations Championship and gave everything to seeing the team succeed. But it was not to be, as England crashed out at the quarter finals to France after what was said to be a poor campaign.
So what has Lewis Moody instilled into the current England team? One, every time you put the shirt on, you show heart and give everything to want to play more for your country. Two, that continuously improving your ability will be recognised by the fans as well as the effort you give. And three, the respect you show others will be noticed by others as good.