Mar 11, 2016
Goode returns to New Jersey six years after Churchill Cup triumph
Not many English players have the privilege of playing rugby in America, let alone in New Jersey. Even fewer have played twice. Alex Goode is that rare breed of player.
When Alex takes the field at the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey on Saturday to face London Irish, his mind will rush back to the summer of 2010 to his try-scoring performance against Canada in the same stadium.
After setting up Nick Abendanon for the opening try in the 38-18 win for the England Saxons, Alex produced a trademark dummy to cross over and establish an early lead which would not be relinquished.
The Saxons head coach that day was Stuart Lancaster who would take over the full international side less than 18 months later. Lancaster would play a pivotal role in Alex’s England career, handing him his debut in 2012 against South Africa.
Alex was part of the squad selected for the 2012 Autumn internationals and he started all 4 of the games at full back. He played well enough to earn himself Man of the Match in England's 54–12 win over Fiji. He was impressive in all of the games including England's spectacular win over New Zealand.
His good form continued in the 2013 Six Nations Championship, playing all five games including the Grand Slam decider against Wales. Unfortunately a shoulder injury and subsequent reconstructive surgery sidelined him for England's summer tour to Argentina.
Regular appearances for England since however have not come as easy as many have predicted or would like. The emergence of Harlequins’ Mike Brown has blocked his path to England honours but both have pushed each other on to reach new heights of performance.
England’s loss has been Saracens gain. Having joined from Cambridge RFC, Alex made his debut for Sarries in 2008 and he has made nearly 200 appearances scoring 491 points.
Highly rated by coach Brendan Venter when he was in charge of Saracens, Alex impressed as the club switched to a free running style in the second half of the 2009-10 season. He played a pivotal role as Saracens reached the Aviva Premiership Grand Final, where they beat Leicester Tigers.
When Mark McCall took over, the success of Saracens and of Alex did not diminish. They reached the Heineken Cup final in 2013/14, losing to the galactico’s of Toulon, and Alex was named the Richard Hill Players’ Player of the Year.
The following season, Alex helped steer Saracens into the Aviva Premiership final for the second season running. This time there would be no mistake and Sarries lifted the trophy after defeating Bath 28-16.
Alex and the rest of his Saracens teammates will be hoping for another return to Twickenham at the end of this season and, despite a few disappointing results recently, are on course to do this. Then again, Alex has a history in making return appearances to foreign stadiums.