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Charlie's Angel speaks up for the England No. 10.

Article date: Wed, 23 Feb 2005 00:00 GMT

UKFast

Charlie Hodgson's personal sponsor UKFast has spoken out in support of the England fly-half. Managing Director Lawrence Jones is appalled by the public onslaught focused on Hodgson since England's poor start to the RBS 6 Nations.

"I was absolutely horrified last Friday when Charlie told me of the abuse he had received. What upsets him most is the fact that his long-term girlfriend has faced jibes in the street since the last match."

Jones fears that rugby is facing a crossroads in its Professional history. "In business or sport you don't draw the best out of your team by applying pressure to individuals. Yet in today's society there seems to be a need to allocate blame?" The positive revival of the sport since the 2003 World Cup has a dangerous flip side that elevates individual players to godlike status. "Do we really want a football style 'superstar ethic' in our sport" he asks?

"The spotlight has been on Charlie and he has missed a few big kicks, but lets not forget what this young guy is capable of." Jones refers to Hodgson's record-breaking England opener in 2002. He totalled 44 points - the top score of any England player on their debut.

And it's Hodgson's talent that momentarily silenced the critics last week with his excellent form in Sale Sharks victory against Leeds Tykes. But since Friday the shadow of Leicester's Andy Goode has also levelled uncertainty at the 24 year-old kicker.

Lawrence Jones has made repeated calls for Andy Robinson and kicking coach Dave Alred to appear united in support of Charlie. "With so much in the press, the public need almost as much reassurance as Charlie and these are the guys to provide it."

UKFast is an official sponsor of Sale Sharks and sponsorship of Charlie Hodgson came not long after his debut with the club in 2001. "Charlie showed a tremendous gift from the onset," remembers Jones. "Wilkinson is an exceptional kicker, but Charlie adds extra flair to the number 10 shirt with his ball handling skills. In an ideal world, you'd have them both on the pitch and we look forward to Wilkinson's speedy recovery."

In 2003 when Charlie faced injury and 8 months on the sidelines, the Sharks offered UKFast the option to transfer sponsorship to a new player. "Charlie was still developing but we had great faith in him. Even though we had no idea how long the injury would last, we had built up a trust and loyalty to Charlie and good partnerships are based on these qualities. Naturally, we stayed with him."

And Lawrence Jones is honouring this bond now as he calls on our nation to pull together and support Hodgson before England's epic challenge at Lansdowne Road. "Tuesday's team selection shows Robinson's faith in Charlie and we all now need to get behind England's rising star."


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