Andy Goode has sided with Sam Burgess in his row with Mike Ford, the well-travelled ex-England out-half revealing how the current Leicester assistant coach was the reason why he didn’t sign for Bath after an approach when Gary Gold was director of rugby at the Premiership club.
Goode had been playing at nearby Worcester when contacted by Bath about the possibility of coming to the Rec. Aware that George Ford had been lined up for a switch from Leicester Tigers, Goode wanted to know if team selection would be merit-based.
However, after he was told by Mike Ford that his son George was categorically not joining Bath, Goode felt he was being hoodwinked and instead went on to sign for Wasps for the 2013/14 season.
The now-retired playmaker revisited the story of his Bath near-miss on The Rugby Pod, the chart-topping show he fronts with Jim Hamilton, after Mike Ford was in the rugby headlines for all the wrong reasons last week when Burgess recalled his dealings with the coach during 2015 which culminated in his return to the Australian NRL following England’s elimination from the World Cup.
Burgess accused of Mike Ford of being a “snake”, alleging that he tried to “sabotage” then-England boss Stuart Lancaster as he wanted the job himself. The now-retired cross-code player added his relationship with George Ford was never the same after the out-half was dropped to the bench in a selection reshuffle that saw Burgess play at No12 outside Owen Farrell at No10 in the RWC defeat to Wales at Twickenham.
“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”
– Sam Burgess has sensationally given his version of England 2015 and the aftermath at Bath https://t.co/1U7GkxypeU
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 3, 2020
Embracing the Burgess criticism of the Fords, Goode recalled his own dealings with coach Ford while he was still playing. Speaking on the latest episode of The Rugby Pod, Goode said: “Sam Burgess came out and said what he felt was the truth in his eyes. We have seen people defending George, defending Mike.
“In reality, I don’t know George personally so it’s probably not for me to comment on what has happened between players I don’t really know about. But what I do know is that I have got personal experience with his dad Mike and I completely agree with what Sam Burgess said about his dad.
“If you speak to people around the game you can only sort of judge people on how you interact with them and how they have treated you, and I believe every word that Sam Burgess said around Mike Ford. He has coached me, he has lied to my face.
“I go back to when I was leaving Worcester Warriors. Gary Gold was the head coach at Bath and Gary asked me to come down and look around Farleigh House. They were interested in signing me the same year that George Ford was leaving Leicester Tigers to go and play for Bath.
“Mike Ford had been my defence coach for England. When it is an England coach you have to treat them in the right way. You can’t be as honest as you would like with an England coach, so I still had that relationship with Mike where it was, ‘I have got to be careful of what I say, he’s the England coach etc’.
“When you are in that camp you can’t always be completely honest unless you are a 60, 70, 80-cap international and I wasn’t that clearly. But I had gone down to Farleigh House, looked around the grounds, a lovely place. Gary Gold was director of rugby at the time and Mike Ford was the coach.
“Gary said, ‘Look, Andy, I want to sign you. I’d love you to come down here’. At the time I was living in Cheltenham so it wasn’t too far, I wouldn’t have to move. Mike Ford was sat in the room as well and I said, ‘Look, guys, I appreciate your interest in me.
“I just want some honest answers really and I want to know are you signing me as a back-up to George Ford because I know George Ford is signing for Bath next year, he’s leaving Leicester Tigers, he’s coming to Bath.
“Are you going to pick the team on merit? Am I going to be a back-up for him when he is off on international duty? Are you going to pick whoever is playing best will get the opportunity? Just be honest with me. I’m an old man, I have got experience in the game and know a lot of people. Where do I stand in terms of your recruitment?’
This row has got even tastier https://t.co/z08EZkYR5v
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 5, 2020
“Mike Ford looks at me and says, ‘We haven’t signed George Ford. I can categorically tell you George Ford is not a Bath player and he won’t be next season’. I looked at Mike Ford and said, ‘Fordy, you know, I know and we all know in this room that George Ford is coming here next year’.
“Gary Gold, bless him, felt so awkward because at that point I realised that Mike Ford was lying to me and I can challenge him on it. Straight away, as soon as he lied to me like that, I knew there was no way I could ever sign for Bath. So, Mike made his excuse and said, ‘Look, I have got to go and sort a coaching session out’ and this was a day off so there was no coaching to do. He literally scarpered out of the room as quickly as possible.
“I looked at Gary Gold and said, ‘I have got so much time for you, you’re a great bloke’. We have said hello to each other a lot over the times he coached Newcastle and various other clubs as well, played against him when he was the head coach at Bath and I was playing at other clubs.
“I said, ‘You know full well I can’t sign for you’. I said, ‘That bloke has just lied to my face’ and Gary Gold said, ‘Oh, Andy, I know, maybe he just felt a bit awkward because I was in the room and didn’t know how to answer it. Give him a call tonight, see what he says then’.
Tigers bite back in the Burgess versus the Fords row https://t.co/dXLd7zvkbP
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 6, 2020
“I said, ‘Gary, I appreciate what you’re trying to do and I appreciate you want me to come to the club, but I cannot come while he is the coach because I don’t respect him. He has lied to my face and no matter what he says now I will never trust the bloke’. Gary was like, ‘Look, I completely understand, I’m sorry. We should have been honest with you’.
“I said, ‘It’s not about we, it’s just about Mike Ford being honest about his son. If I’m coming to the club to be his back-up just let me know. I’m 32 years of age, I can make a decision. I’m a big boy’.
“So, do I believe in everything Sam Burgess said about Mike Ford? Yeah, I 100 per cent do because that is the way I have had dealings with him and there have been numerous others when I was in England camp, there have been numerous stories about the game.
“Is he the same bloke now that he was back then? Who knows? I don’t know Mike. We have seen Geordan (Murphy) defend him and said he is a good bloke now and stuff like that, but what I do know is when he did sign for Leicester there were a lot of people saying the same things.
“You could be an exceptional businessman but you need rugby IQ to make rugby decisions and unfortunately you can’t see that at Gloucester at the minute”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 10, 2020
“Geordan Murphy said we will only judge him on what he has to judge him on as a Leicester Tigers coach and ultimately he is still there in a job. You can only judge people on your dealings with them. I don’t trust Mike Ford. I know he has got that ‘snake’ in him that Sam Burgess clearly said and I know a lot of other people that will agree with that.
“George Ford is a different kettle of fish. I don’t know him. People say he is the ultimate professional, I’m sure he is. But I can also see Sam Burgess’ side where he said George would have sulked when Sam got picked and George got dropped because that is natural, isn’t it?
“Ultimately, both Mike Ford and George Ford had a pop at Sam Burgess in the press when he left just after the 2015 World Cup and it’s the first time that Sam Burgess has really been involved in any press over here in terms of his rugby career since then. He gave back as honest account as he could and it’s blown up. People are saying well why is he saying it now? Why not say it now?”
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