Sam Burgess the high-profile Rugby League convert has returned to the NRL in Australia after just one year with Bath in Rugby Union. Burgess produced a powerful display in England Rugby’s opening QBE International against France at Twickenham, where Eventmasters guests enjoyed outstanding Twickenham hospitality at the Merits complex.
Speculation has been rife for weeks that a return to rugby league with the South Sydney Rabbitohs was imminent for the 26-year-old and yesterday Bath confirmed he had left the club with immediate effect. Despite reports emerging that he had decided to stay in England.
Burgess joined the Aviva Premiership side last October to high expectations after his exploits in the other code. In his final appearance for the Rabbitohs he helped the club win the NRL Grand Final despite fracturing his cheekbone inside the first 10 seconds of the game.
Many expected him to bring his unique brand of physicality, power and ball playing ability to an already star-studded Bath team. After a slow start to his career at centre he was moved to the back-row and produced some fantastic displays particularly in the Aviva Premiership.
He was a shock inclusion in England’s squad for 2015 World Cup at the expense of more experienced players such as Luther Burrell. Many pundits felt he was unready for the biggest tournament in world rugby, but he impressed the coaching staff in training with his leadership skills.
Despite his relative lack of experience he was given a spot on the bench for the opening game against Fiji, he made a huge impact when he replaced Jonathan Joseph. Injuries meant he was handed a starting spot for the game against Wales.
His primary role in that game was to get England across the gain line and shackle the experienced Jamie Roberts, both jobs were performed admirably and it is widely regarded as his best game in the sport.
With England leading he was substituted with 11 minutes remaining and we all know what happened after that. England lost the game and were staring down the barrel of an early exit from their own World Cup.
Subsequently he was dropped to the bench for the Australia match before being left out of the 23-man squad for the final game against Uruguay. Many feel that Burgess was unfairly treated by the media and made a scapegoat for England’s early exit.
VIP Twickenham Six Nations hospitality guests will be hoping to see England bounce back from this early exit when they take on Ireland on Saturday 27th February and Wales on Saturday 12th March in the 2016 Six Nations.
On his return to Bath, Burgess was given time-off as Head Coach Mike Ford who said he “wasn’t quite right”. Ever since then it has been rumoured that he would return to Australia, now that has been confirmed.
It is hard to summarise Burgess’s time in rugby union. Some feel it was circus from start to finish which distracted a whole squad trying to win a World Cup. Others feel he was a player of immense potential thrust into an impossible situation whilst playing out of position.
It was unrealistic to expect him to walk into a brand new sport and become an accomplished player overnight. There is no doubt that in his games at flanker he showed what he is all about and why he was such a star in the NRL. But to then push him back into the midfield was an unforgiveable error by the coaching staff of England.
With the raft of unfair media criticism that followed, it is only natural for the player to look back towards the sport where he was named the world’s best player in 2014.
It would be extremely unfair to blame the player and say he has ‘quit’ when the going got tough. Looking at the situation objectively this was the only outcome after all that went before. He is in the prime of his career and could either stay with Bath; continue to have every tackle, pass and run intensely scrutinised.
Or return the NRL win more titles with Souths and be the leader of a rapidly improving England side ahead of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. The chance to play with his two brothers and be close to his family had to be a major influence in his decision.
Ultimately Burgess has made the choice he feels is right.
We now look forward to the 6 Nations, where Eventmasters will once again be providing outstanding Twickenham hospitality packages for the two fixtures against Ireland and Wales.
For more information and to purchase your Twickenham Hospitality packages for the Six Nations please follow the links.