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Mahatma Gandhi once said:

"A small body of determined spirits fired by an unquenchable faith in their mission can alter the course of history."

Monday, January 26, 2009

Being realistic?

Dear Ivor

Cap and share does sound extremely similar to the proposal we came up with last Thursday night at the pub, although I think you called it green and lean. Mind you the fact that this was published nearly a year ago probably does give Ireland the edge.

James was home for the weekend and was enthusing about the Jonny Wilkinson book “Tackling Life”, wants to know if you want to borrow it, I know he’s not Welsh but perhaps you could make an exception in this case, James says it’s quite inspirational.

Anyway I’m not doing a promo for his book, however some of the comments subsequently uttered by my offspring got me thinking about sporting selection. You recently made reference to, at great length, the discriminatory process for Oxbridge selection based on attendance of particular educational establishments.

Monopoly of the prestigious universities is not the only bastion of elitism. It also extends to the world of sport and is positively epidemic in English rugby. Out of the England rugby 1st XV approximately 70% of players attended independent schools; this is from a country where only 7% of the population is privately educated. England rugby continues to draw its future stars from an extremely limited pool; you only have to look at the current U20s squad, where disproportionately over 80% of the squad emanates from this background.

In the 2000 Sydney Olympics an astounding two-thirds of medals won by Britons were awarded to athletes that had been privately-educated. The 2008 Beijing Olympics faired better with just over one third of the Olympic medals being awarded to athletes from independent schools, including a staggering four out of nine of the gold medal winners, including Chris Hoy. However in total more than 50% of our Olympic team was comprised of privately educated indiviuals.

Perhaps it is not “poverty of aspiration” that infects our state schools just cold hard realism? Do you think England rugby would be interested in a cap and share scheme?

Poll xx