Sam Burgess has sensationally called Mike Ford a ‘snake’, claiming his former Bath coach sabotaged his career and England’s 2015 Rugby World Cup campaign.
Burgess lifted the lid on the fallout from the 2015 World Cup with England and his swift departure from Bath in the aftermath, accusing Ford, his then club coach, of being a ‘snake’ whom he alleged undermined and sabotaged national team boss Stuart Lancaster.
Burgess also accused Ford of using him as ‘a pawn in his game of chess’.
He claimed that Ford undermined himself and Lancaster in order to get his son, George Ford, game time at the tournament and also to make a bid to take over the England coaching job after the team’s failure.
‘I just felt that people behind the scenes were playing a bit of a deeper game,’ Burgess said on the House of Rugby podcast, co-hosted by his 2015 Rugby World Cup teammate James Haskell.
‘I think probably the biggest outcome – Mike Ford wanted the England coaching job. So his job was to try and sabotage Lancaster and his decision-making and his coaching methods.
‘I think obviously with George being his son in camp, it kind of infiltrated a little bit into the team camp. That’s just my take on it, whether that’s the reality of it or not, but that’s my reality.’
George Ford started the tournament at flyhalf but was benched for the second game against Wales, in which Burgess started at inside centre. Burgess believes that Mike Ford was in his son’s ear throughout.
‘After me starting against Wales, my relationship with George completely changed. He wouldn’t talk to me, he was a bit sulky and obviously Mike was a bit shady in the background,’ Burgess said.
‘I just felt that people behind the scenes were playing a deeper game. The biggest thing was that Mike Ford wanted the England coaching job, so his job was to try sabotage Lancaster and his decision-making and his coaching methods. With George being his son, that infiltrated into the camp.’
Burgess said upon his return to Bath after England bowed out of the World Cup, he couldn’t sit in the same room as Mike Ford.
‘I came back from World Cup, went straight into his room and said, “Mike, I don’t want to play for you anymore, I don’t trust you. I think you’re playing games around my back. You used me a pawn in your game of chess. I can’t put my boots on and play for you every week.” His response was: “Take ten days off, come back, maybe you’ll change.”
‘I went to Spain for 10 days and when I came back he asked me if I’d changed my mind. I said, “No, I’ve not changed my mind, I’m being serious here. I’m going, I want to go. Let’s get a deal done.”
‘I had to laugh because I’ll never forget Mike’s face when I said to him, “Mike, I don’t respect you anymore, 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.’
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