Search icon


03rd Jan 2018

The England players’ WhatsApp group can be absolutely brutal at times

No holds barred

Patrick McCarry

Rugby can be an unforgiving place, at times, and there is no hiding in the squad WhatsApp group.

The likes of Huddle and WhatsApp have made it easier for ever-growing rugby squads, and backroom staffs, to communicate with each other.

Earlier on this season, Bristol and Ireland fly-half Ian Madigan told The Hard Yards that it was taking him a while to get used to workaholic Pat Lam.

“Pat seems to be up at 5 or 6 o’clock every morning,” he said, “yet he’s sending out WhatsApps at 11 o’clock at night.”

It is no different for the England rugby squad. During a guest-host spot on the BBC’s Rugby Union Weekly, Harlequins and England scrum-half Danny Care revealed some details about the different groups used by the Test squad.

Care said, “We do have a players’ one. We have one for a bit of craic. We have a banter one and a serious one, where they put the schedules on and stuff.”

A main squad player, who picks up a short-term injury, will be often removed from the weekly ‘Schedule’ group but, if they are lucky, cling on to the banter group. Care revealed that James ‘Has’ Haskell remains in the latter of those groups.

“Has is still in that and he’s trying to fire some banter at everyone but they’re ignoring it. He was devastated!

“Now, he’ll be so happy because he’ll be back in.”

Banter aside, the group that deals with purely with rugby business can be brutal and unforgiving at times. If you are dropped by Eddie Jones, the WhatsApp axe soon follows. Care said:

“If you’ve been in one week and you’re not in the next, the old ‘They’ve been removed’ does come up.

“Some lads try to get in there early, to remove themselves in a nice way. Other lads try to hold on and they get removed.

The larger group currently has 36 participants, including 25-year-old Newcastle flanker, and recent England call-up Gary Graham. 20-year-old Zach Mercer is also included. Care says the new faces in the squad are often integrated on a social night out in early January.

“Nothing too crazy,” he says, “but we make sure the boys are integrated quickly and do anything we can to try help them out.”