England 15-16 South Africa: England Player Ratings

Alex Corbisiero: 7
A strong showing from the loosehead as he got the better of the Springboks in the scrum. There were a couple of questionable decisions, but if he can get himself on the right side of them there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be praised. An increasingly important figure in the wake of Marler’s failings last weekend.

Tom Youngs: 5
After a 100% record coming into the game his lineout finally fell apart. He wasn’t completely at fault though; he was unfortunate that the South Africans did their homework and figured out he was mainly going to the front, forcing him into longer throws that were consequently called not straight. Still a nuisance in the loose and continues to show good physicality.

Dan Cole: 6
Fronted up well in the scrum, as always, but was fairly anonymous in the loose. Ball carrying is an area he perhaps needs to work on, but was again a nuisance at the breakdown where he is technically excellent.

Geoff Parling: 8
The lineout may have wobbled but his performance in the loose was so good that he must have been a candidate for MOTM. Consistently broke tackles, showing what can happen when you run at space rather than tacklers. Confounded his critics in the scrum, too, where England were more than solid.

Joe Launchbury: 8
A fantastic performance from the young man on his first start, and England seem to have found a well-balanced second row partnership. After a performance that was as much about physicality as it was work rate, Launchbury looks to have a bright future in an England shirt.

Tom Wood: 7
Added a much-needed bite up front and refused to be intimidated by what is a giant Springbok back-row. Carried well and put in his tackles, pretty much all you can ask of a blindside flanker.

Chris Robshaw: 5
The debate will go on, but he got it wrong. Two wrong decisions in two weeks does not bode well for a man who seemed nailed on as long-term captain. With 2 minutes to go and 4 points needed to draw, let alone win, the decision to go for the posts was baffling. Not good to see him being openly questioned on the pitch by Farrell, either.

Ben Morgan: 6
A mixed afternoon that included some good breaks, a massive knock-on, and some running up blind allies. Showed intelligent footballing awareness to keep his foot in touch when taking one restart, and looked set to do it again only for Mo Botha to get in his way. Just about justified his inclusion ahead of Waldrom.

Ben Youngs: 7
Another to have a mixed afternoon, Youngs’ reputation was probably more enhanced than damaged. A couple of sniping runs kept the defence on their toes, and one clever inside ball orchestrated some space for Goode to run into. His box-kicking was largely good; he has done enough to keep Care on the bench for another week.

Toby Flood: 4
Not his finest afternoon in an England shirt. A couple of missed penalties, one that was regulation, along with some wayward kicking from hand contributed to an altogether sub-par performance. Having said that, after being forced off with injury, his replacement, Farrell, was no better. Flood is a doubt for the All Blacks next week – Freddie Burns anyone?

Mike Brown: 7
Certainly justified his selection on the wing with some towering takes from the aerial bombardment he received. He also ran the ball back with enthusiasm, making a notable break in the first few minutes. Will be interesting to see whether he remains there for what is likely to be a different type of match against the All Blacks next week.

Brad Barritt: 5
Starting to look too one-dimensional for international rugby. Will tackle his heart out all day, but all too often he gets the ball and puts his head down without the thought of offloading. England need a distributing 12 who can get Tuilagi more into the game – Twelvetrees must be given time to develop but he looks like the long term successor here.

Manu Tuilagi: 6
A clever interception and one strong break masked a quiet afternoon for Tuilagi. It wasn’t his fault though, England just need to find a way to use his undoubted talent better, and more often, as the Tigers do week-in week-out.

Chris Ashton: 5
England’s golden boy is looking alarmingly out of sorts. He did well to catch up with Tuilagi after his interception, but other than that there wasn’t much to shout about for Ashton. Tried hard to get involved, but often took the ball off the scrum-half and went backwards in contact. He needs to hold his depth better and run at space off the fly-half more.

Alex Goode: 6
A more quiet afternoon from Goode, but he is yet to look out of place on the international field. One scything break in the first half was particularly impressive, as he showed impressive pace to get away from the scrambling defenders. Marshalled the space at the back well, especially with a makeshift winger on one side.

Lancaster’s persistence with Farrell, which once looked admirable, is starting to look misplaced. He brings nothing off the bench that Flood can’t do himself, and is certainly less threatening in attack – you only have to look at some of his passes this weekend. It is time for a punt on Freddie Burns. Other than that Vunipola was notable for his efforts in the ball-carrying department, and Care was as full of energy as ever. Sadly though, nobody succeeded in changing the game.

By Jamie Hosie

Apologies that there were no Rate the Match articles on which to vent frustration over the weekend, but feel free to share your thoughts on the game here.

94 thoughts on “England 15-16 South Africa: England Player Ratings

  1. I find myself agreeing with a great deal of the comments but must disagree about Morgan and Farrel’s contributions.
    The seal was set for a poor performance as long as Toby Flood remained on the field.
    having had to play a very one dimensional game for most of the afternoon it is not easy to change the game plan, however I believe that they did and with more vigour with the arrival of Farrel.
    I also think that the replacements were made with too little time left for them to make any worthwhile impact

    1. Have never understood the excitement about Flood? Just doesn’t produce in a white shirt (Or Purple :-)) Farrel is far more dynamic. Like to see other 10’s utilised and Cipriani brought back into the EPS.

      1. Farrell is certainly not more dynamic than anyone. Flood has a far superior skill set to Farrell is every way other than defense; which is not what a Fly half should be selected on.

  2. Right call by Robshaw!! The penalty kick should have been taken quicker and if Botha had used any sense whatsoever and either A. Let the ball go out or B. Left it for Morgan to catch again (whilst stood in touch) then England would have had the platform on halfway to build a final attack into the SA half, potentially giving the oppurtunity for either a penalty shot – SA were giving them away at will and the England scrum was strong – or a drop goal attempt…

    1. Spot on. Our line-out wasn’t functioning too well, neither was our maul.

      A 5 is wrong. One missed tackle aside he had a good game, he was everywhere and making plenty of key tackles.

      England haven’t scored from a line-out and driving maul for 5 years. There was nothing in that display that said they were going to do that on Saturday either.

      It’s easy to critise from the stands or your sofa, but delays in the kicker taking the kick and the tee coming on cost that game.

      (Farrell would never have hit the 5 metre line either, England would have been at the 22)

      1. Robshaw missed a number of tackles on Saturday. I noted three while I was watching. It might be more than that.

          1. xxxwookie – they need to review the game tape. I would stake my mortgage on more misses than that. Don’t get me wrong, I am a fan of his and think that he actually puts himself in good positions to make the tackles, but he definitely missed more than one on Saturday.

    2. “Right call by Robshaw!” Three minutes to go we neede four points not two? Please explain your logic. Ball in the Corner and Maul off the Lineout was the only right decision.

      1. A tactic that England have failed at continuously for the last five years.

        A faulty line out that was consistently disrupted by the South Africans.

        A rolling maul that we never managed to get the upper hand in.

        A quick kick should take 20 seconds. Restart leaving a minute to play. If the ball goes out England have a scrum on half way, if it doesn’t a good catch and build up, whilst South Africa give away penalties, leaving a gain of territory and eventually a shot at goal.

  3. Generally thought the pack played fairly well against one of the toughest outfits in world rugby. Thought that we just had the edge on them. (Except lineout!)

    Very worried about lack of invention behind the scrum. Just no hint of an attacking threat developing – what is Catt doing?

    Major beef though, is the same as it has been for the last two weeks – Why oh why do we not have runners coming from deep to take a pass. On the odd occasion it happens, we break the gain line. The rest of the time, we are just static and easy to defend against.

  4. Robshaw got it wrong but we should not berate him too much. It is too easy when sitting in a stand or in front of the telly. These scenarios should be confronted with the squad in the build up, so I blame the coaching preparation. Lots of hypothetical situations should be ironed out to make sure the team have a plan so that everyone is on board with the decision making process. Act as a unit… What would we be discussing if Robshaw had left the field injured and the same thing had happened! We must learn from this.
    We have unearthed two quality second rows.

  5. I completely disagree that Robshaw was wrong. If you think we had any chance of scoring from a line out then your a fool. If Botha hadn’t have messed up the restart we had a very good chance of getting down there and getting a drop goal or pen. Completely the right decision. Need to have a serious look at Farrell, he should not be questioning the captain like that! Really poor.

    I would start Burns next week if Flood isn’t fit. Farrell passing was awful, there was some aimless kicking; I am just not a fan.

    In Flood’s defense, he took a hit to the head and had to go off to be checked for full concussion; and when he came on he didn’t look right; but I wouldn’t blame him for that.

    In general a good performance; we were unlucky to concede that try. All I would say is, Farrell needs to go.

  6. I think Robshaw made the right call but failed in the execution of it – take the kick, but take it quickly and get back into position for drop goal or penalty chance. England (and SA so this isn’t a dig) did not look like scoring a try so I don’t think they were suddenly going to in the last 2 mins just because that would have been the neat ending.

    I’m impressed with him for having the gumption to do it, less impressed with the execution.

    So, just when is Tuilagi going to turn into this world class player? How many chances is he going to get to prove he is more than just size?

    1. Completely agree with you in regards to Robshaw decision. Right call, Farrel should not be questioning him and should have got a move in in executing what Robshaw wanted!

      Also, I find it an interesting one of Tuilagi. I have seen glimpses from him that suggests he will be world class, and I keep forgetting he is only 21. But I do think the England set up need to work out how best to use him. In a Tigers shirt he is devastating, for no other reason than they have a game plan that runs through, maybe SL needs to take a look at that.

      1. I think looking world class in the league has been something that a lot of players have achieved but they have failed to step up. Is he the next Vainikolo? I think the league can favour the big bosh approach more than the internationals – crappy weather, crappy pitches, similar styles of play on both sides, so attrition and smashing can win the matches. When you’re playing against world class defences it’s less effective so I still contend that without the abilities to draw and give or to pop the ball he’s not going to be a world class centre, just an almighty wrecking ball.

        1. True, but the same was said of Nonu at the start of his career.

          Like Nonu, hopefully Tuilagi will be able to add some skill and subtlety to his power game.

          Too early to judge though

          1. It’s a high risk strategy though to use international rugby matches to develop him? Why isn’t he in the Saxons or left to develop more at his club? England have some other options without resorting to being a development squad? If he moves on then he’ll get the international caps, if he doesn’t then it’s a very expensive way to find out if a player will develop basic skills. I’m fine if England want to stick with him there (obviously :-)) but it wasn’t that long ago he was spoken of as a cert for the Lions squad and that worries me.

          2. To be honest, I think Tuilagi is just fine. He needs somebody with him to do a lot of that stuff. He picks his line and runs it, but if he’s working off limited ball, he’s not going to get the options.

            At the minute, England have two centres that operate like that and of the two, I’d say Tuilagi is the more useful so I don’t see why so many people think Tuilagi’s work is dreadful and he should be dropped.

          3. I agree with Brighty – Nonu was able to develop his game a club level – we know Cockers has no intention of moving Manu. Has playing a player out of postion ever worked at test match level? I have painful memories of Cueto and Monye at full back

        2. Jamie Roberts: 48 caps (46+2) 5 Tries
          Jonathan Davies: 30 caps 8 Tries
          Manu Tuilagi: 15 caps 8 Tries

          Clearly not the finished article, but his pass to Ashton after the interception was excellent (shame we didn’t have a left winger to run a support line after that). Your ‘bosh merchant’ can’t stay fit and has a strike rate that is ~20% of Manu’s.

          1. Oh dear, there you go again Matt, turning it into Wales v England for some odd reason. I’m not impressed by Jamie Roberts at the mo either, but don’t let that sway you into discussing rugby matters, let’s just resort to Wales v Eng measurements. Stick with Manu then, let your other better options wither on the vine.

          2. Not intending to have a Wales Vs England war, just banter:-). The point is Manu’s strike rate is very good by any measure. If he continues to gets a try every other game while developing I’m quite content for him to be doing it in the England team. Saxon’s don’t play enough games anymore so this isn’t a place for someone to be hanging around until they are 24/25 at a slower rate of development and I think he’s been plenty good enough for Tigers at domestic and European level warrant his place. Playing at a level where he can dominate through physicality alone isn’t going to bring him through more either.

            Which better options do you think we have withering on the vine?

    2. I think Tuilagi has the potential to be world class, but that shouldn’t mean that we shouldn’t look at other options for the centres. Joel Tompkins or Jonathan Joseph alongside Billy Twelvetrees would be a brilliant combo in my opinion.

      1. Matt, inside centre for me is a draw-and-pass position with the odd break. Keep the defenders guessing, offload in the tackle, get the outside centre, wings and full back around the dog legged defence (dog legged if it is done right). In this context I would say that Tuilagi’s strike rate can be misleading – he’s taking the chances himself, so how many is he missing outside? For me Jamie was at his best for the Lions when he was popping the ball to O’Driscoll outside him.

        I know it’s completely counter intuitive to say that a high scoring rate is a bad thing, but hopefully you get what I mean – if England played Japan and got 10 tries through rolling mauls you’d probably agree that it’s a flattering stat as they wouldn’t do it against the top four teams.

        Other options for me then would be the footballing centres – twelvetrees for example. I am always fond of the dual ten option (Aus use it well, Wales should use it with Hook) – so Burns, Ford, etc. should be used in my opinion. Putting Farrel in at centre is pointless.

        1. Having a better strike rate than BOD doesn’t make you a better centre than BOD agreed. But, probably because of the hype around England having some sort of attacking weapon, his progress is very good. 15 months ago he was jumping out of defensive lines and looked all over the place, now he makes pretty good decisions when to rush and when not to. Last 2 games for Tigers he’s given try scoring offloads, same Vs Fiji. His pass to Ashton after reading the intercept was excellent. His decoy running lines for Tigers are now a lot better as well, i.e. looks like he’s running to take the ball. I think he deserves to hold his place and his rate of progression is good enough in my opinion. Shaun Edwards summed it up nicely after last 6N game “two blokes scared us, Tuilagi and Morgan”. You don’t drop the people who scare the opposition unless they are unfit or badly out of form!

          Who plays with him is another issue!

          1. …. and the second sentance makes no sense and just proves I can’t multitask. Yes he’s hyped. At the time of his arrival we had Trundle, Hapless and Blunderhan, so some excitement was justified. Progress may not live up to all the hype, but he’s doing well enough!

  7. While I think it was a mistake to go for posts with 2 minutes to go in the SA game, if the plan had come off as Robshaw hoped it would then we would be hailing his genious decision making. I also think he was right to go for the corner in the Australia game. Clearly the Aussies were committing numerous infringements which got penalised, and had the ref had some backbone then he would have put someone in the bin. One man advantage and you would have backed England to score.

    Clearly Robshaw has made some mistakes but he has put his hand up and said he was wrong and that speaks volumes for me. I’ve no doubt that he will be better for this experience and will be an outstanding captain for England.

  8. Having shouted at teh TV when Robshaw made his decision, I now think he was right.

    SA have conceded one try in their last three games. England have not scored from a line-out maul in ages. And our line-out was mal-functioning badly.

    If we could not score against the Aussies with a catch and drive, I really am not sure why anyone thinks we would against the Saffers (unless we had used Wales’ brilliant 14 man line-out tactic)

    If Farrell had not argued, there would have been at least a minute more and if Botha had left the ball, we’d have had a scrum on half way. Very small margins both this week and last between Robshaw being hailed a hero and vilified undeservedly

    Can’t understand some of these scores either. Corbisiero was well off the pace round the field and was lucky to get the scrum calls that he did

    Tom Youngs was invisible around the field other than when his brother was threatened and once when he counter-rucked about 3 South Africans off the ball. If only he showed that kind of passion for a whole game

    Youngs was awful. Consistently dithered and threw slow, looping passes. He needs to be dropped till he finds some form and Dickson bought back in.

    Flood was even worse and it says something that Farrell improved England’s play once he came on.

    Ashton needs to be taken away for training and left off the team until he shows he can throw a pass that goes to hand

    Is there anyway we can move Goode to inside centre, Brown to fullback and bring in Wade, Biggs or May on the wing?

    But above all, why can we not run from deep and take the ball at pace???

    (BTW for the person who asked about Robshaw and tackles, according to the stats on espnscrum, he made more than any other England player (12) and missed one)

    1. Pablito

      Your Comment says it all really

      “But above all, why can we not run from deep and take the ball at pace???”

      We have 13 year olds at school and club who manage that every week.

  9. Guess the whole conversation is a waste of time really.

    3 minutes from the end we should have done the work already.

    A couple of shocking missed pens would have given us the 6 points we needed.

  10. Agree largely. I thought Robshaw deserved a little more credit. Making the right decisions at the right time, tackled his heart out and carried well. I’m not his biggest fan, but I thought he did better than a 5.

    On the last minute option. England had failed to score a try all day. The South African lineout was doing a good job of stealing ball. If he went to the corner and the ball was lost there’d be plenty of criticism the same way. However, if Farrell kicked the goal quickly instead of arguing and England had not dropped the restart, another attacking opportunity opens up. In my mind, the right decision, but either way he was going to get criticised for a loss or hailed for a win on that.

    I was unimpressed by Mike Brown. He had moments of brilliance, undeniably but he spent too much time standing way out on his wing instead of coming inside searching for the ball. Commentators and pundits were criticising Ashton for the pass that he threw to Brown in the Tuilagi break, but Ashton was only going to get isolated, he needed Brown to come in off his wing. The last time I saw someone play wing like that was Delon Armitage – full back at winger doesn’t work.

    On the Flood/Farrell issue. Firstly, I thought Flood did a lot of good on the pitch. Beating defenders and passing on the gainline. Draws defenders, puts people through holes, but England need a more creative replacement for Barrit who can use that ball better. Farrell impressed me early on in his England career but is out of sorts at Saracens and England. Perhaps not the best person. I think generally he is less creative and dangerous than Flood.

    1. Re Mike Brown, yes he’s not a winger, but moments of brilliance is rather more than Sharples managed last week or Ashton in the last 2 weeks.

      He’s the type of player who sparks something from nothing, like Goode, and we need that in the team. His positioning can be taught, his instinctive running cannot

      Still, would rather have him at fullback

      Also, in no way can he be blamed for Ashton’s inability to throw what should be a standard pass at international level. Ashton was arcing across the pitch and Brown was right to keep his line, ensuring there was no way for the cover defence to catch him if her received the ball.

      Does anyone doubt that an AB player whether a forward or a back, would have put that pass directly into Brown’s arms?

      1. It’s a very long pass from a tired player. If you watch the all blacks, those players come in from the wing every time. Any player on the pitch should know that the bigger the distance the better the chances of a pass not making it, no matter whether Ashton’s throwing it or Dan Carter. I’ll admit – not the best pass, but a winger should know to come in on that and make it better. Especially when receiving from a winger who aren’t always the best distributors

  11. I thought the pack where right up where we need them to be to compete at the top level – they weren’t outstanding, but they played at a level where they could mix it with anyone and give the backs the platform they need . . .

    And unfortunately our back line could play behind the greatest pack n the world and still couldn’t create a decent move.

    I disagree with Robshaws decision, simply because to be the best, you have to back yourself to be the best – we are going to win nothing based on playing off statistics. Kick for the corner and give yourself a chance.

  12. front five excellent and back 3 looking betterthe only change i’d make to this one is steffon for robshaw but not sure that will ever happen. dont know what to say about the back though. think its all down to ten as all the pundits have been saying recently teams with a ten that can bring the backline into the game properly will score tries and beat teams that dont have it. thats why france are the only team to beat sh opp. the only guy we have that looks like he could bring that is burns. sa always knew what was coming next so even with finishers like ashton and tuilagi if defences can predict whats happening we arent going to score tries. defences need to feel unsure as to what their job is when our 1st receiver gets the ball ,not ready and set for whats coming as they are now. i think burns would make defences nervous.

  13. Credit to Robshaw for taking a decision that at the time seemed poor, but on reflection was the best call. Kudos to him for being able to take that decision in the heat of battle. Kicking to the corner and we only had a 70% chance of even winning the lineout let alone driving the Boks over the line. Kicking to the corner would have resulted in a much easier post match interview “we went for the win but it didn’t come off” but I don’t think it was the right call. However the dithering to take the kick had me tearing my hair out as did the butchered restart!

    Only marks I would change:
    – Robshaw 6
    – Ben Youngs 5
    And I can’t decide if a 4 is generous for Flood or not

    – Breakdown, great collective effort and intensity
    – Boks nullified. Never seen a game where Alberts only makes 4 metres!
    – Launchbury & Parling! Not been a Parling advocate, but last 2 games he’s shut me up!
    – Scrum! Du-Plessis on the arm (turns Corbs in) and Corbs still had the power to keep pushing him back and getting the penalties. Really good display.

    – Farrell came on, was pretty poor, but still better than Flood who had the worst game I have ever seen him play for England. Be a travesty if Burns doesn’t get a chance next week.
    – Why was JJ left on the bench? Was the backline firing so well, that we didn’t need an X factor to make a break and maybe win us a game? Didn’t understand that at all.
    – Lineouts – Youngs is a dynamic carrier, will make a great impact sub, but isn’t good enough with his darts yet. Think Gray deserves a shot.
    – Ben Youngs – tricky day for handling, but all the handling errors and poor passes seemed to come at key moments. Right from the start the butchered simple pass to Barritt cost us a precious try scoring opportunity. I would like to see a Dixon/Burns combo given a go (probably off the bench given the opposition) as I think Burns can make use of Dixon’s faster service.

      1. Not bringing JJ on was one of the biggest disappointments of the weekend for me. Not sure what they had to lose, and would love to know why Lancaster held him back.

  14. So Farrell brings nothing off the bench that Flood can’t do himself? Apart from kick penalties!!!!! I think the way Flood was playing I might have bought Farrell on earlier. We might have won the game if points had been scored when on offer, and then that last call wouldn’t have been questioned.
    Ok we all know that Farrell’s running game isn’t great, but when Flood is playing that bad, and missing easy penalties, why not bring him on when he’s all you’ve got on the bench.

    1. Very good comments on Farrell kicking the goals. I am not his biggest fan and I do think that Flood offers more BUT after he had got over questioning his captain, I think he deserves some credit for nailing that penalty with less time than he would have liked.

      For a player brought up with around Rugby League he is a surprisingly poor passer of the ball (although not alone in that respect in this squad).

    2. Because he might be more solid at goal kicking but he’s not going to inspire a team to a win in the last 10 minutes. Imagine if they had got the ball back from the kick off, as I think someone else here has noted, would Farrell have launched a length of the field attack? Unlikely. Also Flood had an off day with the boot but I think that’s because he took a knock early on – that side of his game has come on leaps and bounds over the past year or so.

  15. I like Barritt, he is a tackling machine, and organises the defensive line excellently. But he is not a distributor. We saw in the England v Fiji game what Goode can do when brought in at second receiver so why not stick him at 12 with Tuilagi outside him. Brown at 15 (still not sure who I’d play at 11?) with JJ on the bench. Two 15’s on the pitch, plus two 10’s (I’m including Goode as a 15 or 10) and play with more vision. I would be a little worried about the 12, 10 channel though, as Flood is not the best tackler!

    For the last game though I think Burns has to come in. I’m sure SL will probably start with Farrell, but Burns has to at least be on the bench. Even if Flood is fit.

    1. I think playing someone in a new position at test match meleve, against the best side in teh world is not the best idea. But what do we do?

      1) Do we stick with Barritt/ Manu or
      2) Barritt/ JJ (Manu to the bench?) or
      3) Barritt/ JJ with Manu on the Wing, or
      4) move Manu to 12/ JJ at 13.

      I suspect SL will go with 1. 2 is a bold option given that Manu is our go-to player, but at least keeps people in their key postions. 3/ 4 goes against my initial concern.

      Anyone else feel that Ashton should be dropped (though not for Biggs)? One wonders what Varndell and Wade have to do to get into the side. Biggs ffs!!

      1. Learn to defend. The main reason Sharples was dropped for the SA game as well. Varndell proved the last time he was in an England shirt that he’s great going forward, but in defence pretty useless.

    2. Don’t bring Goode up into the centres, bring a centre up into the centres. There’s a bit of a trend for calling players into different positions, much like Brown and Tuilagi as wingers. I’m of the view that putting anyone out of position is going to make their lives a lot more difficult and the game.

      Good is a good fly half/full back, but why move him into the centre when Billy Twelvetrees and Anthony Allen are impressing in that position every week?

      I think Flood is a better tackler than people realise. He gets in on the big guys and holds them until someone else arrives. Doesnt miss many. But if his passing options are Tuilagi or Barrit then the game is going to look one dimensional, he needs another option up there with him, particularly useful if it’s one that can take on kicking duties for Flood.

      I also noticed a lot of players – andd this isn’t Flood’s fault – not running onto the ball and taking it static. That is not going to get anyone over the gainline

      1. The main problem is that Twelvetrees and Allen are not in the squad, and cannot be moved into the squad unless someone else gets injured. He could have replaced Monye with one of these two, but Biggs was next in line from the Saxons squad apparently, and he’s replaced like for like. Twelvetrees would be the best option for me, but it looks like we won’t get that chance now until the Six Nations.
        I think Tuilagi is more likely to lose his starting spot than Barritt. Barritt is the organiser in that defensive line, and he made more tackles than any two of the other backs put together. Can we afford to miss him out against NZ? I would play with JJ outside Barritt, and hope Barritt gets more chances to offload, because he is perfectly capable of offloading if the opportunity arises.

      2. Completely agree. Flood did not have a good game, but he was made to look worse by the players around him standing still instead of running onto it. And I also agree with you on Twelvetrees – he is the only 12 in this country that can distribute properly, he can tackle, he can kick, and he can see a gap. Barritt has one of those qualities. Twelvetrees is the future in my opinion.

  16. I am very much in the camp that Robshaw made the right call. I certainly thought so at the time. England hadn’t scored for 77 minutes, and from a Lineout/drive for a lot longer than that!

    Thinking about Botha’s (very poor) error, and how that would have allowed England a central scrum, perhaps the right call for Robshaw would have been for a scrum at that last penalty. A very brave call of course, but a scrum in that field position would probably have given a better scoring opportunity than a lineout (which was not going too well) close to the 5m line.

    The one down-side to taking a scrum of course is that it relies on farrell’s ability to launch an effective strike play from set-piece, which I am not sure he is particularly effective at. Unlike Flood (or Burns, or Ford, or Hodgson, or Gerahty, or Lamb, or Wilkinson, or Heathcote, or even Cipriani).

    1. I like you’re thinking but I can tell you that Heathcote played for Scotland at the weekend so I don’t think he’s an option!! And I wouldn’t let Geraghty anywhere near an England shirt! Lamb is never going to be good enough to play at this level. He struggles for consistency in the Premiership.

  17. NB; I realise that McHeathcote is no longer an option, but he is probably no less likely than several of those mentioned to find himself in an England shirt anytime soon!

    1. I don’t see how SL can look past Burns if Flood is injured. I’m sure that Farrell will start though. I can’t see SL putting Burns straight in from the start??

      1. I hope he doesn’t start Burns, that is tantamount to setting him up to fail. Let’s introduce Burns gradually. The last 2 matches have shown (to me at least) that we need some impact from our backs. Farrell and Flood are starters, not bench options – we should always keep our mecurial talent on the bench – Burns and Wade for the 6N hopefully! I must admit I am losing patience with Flood – he has 50 caps but so often is lacking at key moments.

  18. Robshaw criticism is unfair. I disagreed with his decisions last week and this, but had Waldrom and Botha not screwed up he would have been vindicated. In the sober light of day I tend to have changed my view on Saturday’s decision and think it was the right call in the circumstances.

    This England team is being accused of being naive. I think the fault lies squarely at the coaches. Why are we wasting caps on journeymen 28 year olds such as Waldrom, Botha, Biggs and previously Hodgeson and Mears. We are now in a position whereby we have a debutant Hooker playing in a tough home series, owing to Mears being used on the tour, and potentially Burns making his debut against NZ. This is a joke. Let’s back our young players who appear to deliver more often than not, and lets not get Palmer back in the first time Launchbury has a bad game, as we did with Morgan.

    1. Bit harsh for critising Waldrom for screwing up when he’s not in the squad. I thought Waldrom was better last week than Morgan was this week so it’s a decent contest between those 2 for the shirt. Waldrom won’t be past it by 2015 so no reason to discard him now.

      1. Waldrom is OK that’s about it. Would rather we invest in players like Billy Vunipola and Morgan who have the potential to be so much more. Look at South Africa, Elsbeth is 6 months younger than Launchbury and has more caps than Robshaw! I just feel that Waldrom, Botha and Biggs, to name a few are not up to it, never will be, so lets move on.

        1. Vunipoal should definitely be added to the squad in place of Waldrom. Shame he’s replaced Monye with Biggs instead of Wade. But I’m guessing that Sharples will probably get another chance this weekend. Although Brown did ok on the wing I thought.

          1. I’d be tempted to give Sharples the right wing over Ashton – lets gage how much of that poor performance was down to being out of position? Ashton looks a shadow of his former self.

          2. Given that most of Ashton’s best work is done tracking the ball and away from the actual wing berth, it does seem odd that he should have been preferred to Sharples on the right-wing in the Aus game.

        2. Bit harsh on the three players mentioned. Waldrom has done a job and is probably the second best England 8. Botha does a job as well, even if no one mistakes him for Eales, and poor old Biggs hasn’t even played yet.

          Having said that I would like to see more young players like Burns and Twelvetrees getting a look in friendly (?) games. However on the other hand, SL has been quietly introducing quite a number of players to test rugby including Vunipola, T Youngs, and Launchbury. Any changing of the guard needs to be handled with care (see Tour of Hell to Australia for salient lesson!) and many of these sides introducing young talent have a more experienced and settled team around them which makes their intoduction much easier. Johnson ruined that for us by sticking to the old guard for too long.

          1. Staggy, I think we need to move beyond “Tour of Hell” comparisons – it was a different time, with the game only recently been professional. Our youth sides have been really successful over teh past few years and more often than not it has been the young players who have really made a difference (Youngs, Lawes, Ashton, Farrell (in the 6n particularly), Cole, Hartley, Launchbury, Corbs, Morgan, Vunipola). They have no fear and appear far more switched on compared with the journeymen like Waldrom, Hape, Botha, Dowson, Hodgeson, Mears, Deacon, Stevens, Palmer etc).

          2. A fair point. And at the moment Waldrom, Botha and Biggs continue to show good form for their clubs, and what else does SL go by?
            Biggs is probably our best option on the left wing, because he won’t be out of position. Probably why Monye was started ahead of Sharples. We don’t actually have great depth of natural left wingers to choose from.

  19. Toby Flood has been ruled out of the All Blacks game…I imagine Faz will start, with Burns on the bench.

    Wouldn’t mind seeing it the other way around though.

    1. Throw him straight in against the ABs? A bit harsh. Scene stealing cameo would do nicely. I think Burns is one to nuture and may benefit more from coming on when legs are tired and the game breaks up.

      1. I’m torn on it to be honest. It would be a baptism of fire, but then there’s nothing to lose…top 4 ranking is now out of reach, and we’re not expected to win the game anyway. I guess as long as his future international potential is not judged on that game alone, the experience might do him good in the long term.

        1. “as long as his future international potential is not judged on that game alone”

          And yet so often this happens to so-called “flair” players. Hence my caution.

          Anthony Allen made his debut against the ABs in 2006, after many dire years under Andy Robinson, finally England had a great attack even with Noon at 13. We scored 4 tries (one wrongly disallowed) that day, but Allen was written off because of his defence. He’s yet to add to his 2 caps from those AIs, and I think his moment has passed.

          I really want Burns to succeed, we desperately need some variation in our attack, even if it is from the bench.

  20. I think you have to look at it like this.If this series has unearthed a few rough diamonds(youngs,launchbury) that might not have been blooded if there were’nt injuries then that’s a few more guys now in the frame which puts us in good stead for the future.Australia have done the same and I predict that they will be very strong when the lions tour.

  21. Benjit. I am actually agreeing with much of what you say, but I don’t think that a sudden massive turnover in players will help playing structure and long term development. I favour evolution over revolution, although we had the latter when SL came in!

    The other problem that we have (which has been aired many times before) is the bloomin restrictive squad selection and turnover due to the agreement with the clubs. You don’t see Ireland having that problem.

    1. Staggy under ordinary circumstances, I agree it has to evolution not revolution. Sadly successive coaches for the last 9 years continued to pick 2003 players. If Stevens hadn’t got banned Cole would have a fraction of the caps he has. I just don’t understand why we are picking 28/ 29/ 30 year olds with limited skills and zero international experience. Surely Billy V, Wade & Launchbury are better bets than Waldrom/ Dowson, Biggs & Botha, players who have proved themselves at age grade internationals?

  22. My ratings:
    Corbisiero – 8
    T Youngs – 6
    Cole – 7
    Launchbury – 8
    Parling – 8
    Wood – 6
    Robshaw – 6
    Morgan – 7
    Youngs – 5
    Flood – 3
    Brown – 7
    Barritt – 5
    Tuilagi – 6
    Ashton – 4
    Goode – 7

    The simple fact is that we were unlucky against South Africa. We beat them in the scrum, they scored a fluke try. We lost fair and square, but that doesn’t mean that we were worse – we outplayed them.

    The changes I’d make for the next game would be Farrell for Flood, Care for Youngs, and Sharples for Ashton. Burns on after about 50/60 minutes to make his debut; Ashton as an impact player on the bench. Barritt isn’t good enough but he should keep his place until the 6N when Lowe, Allen or Twelvetrees can be given a chance. (Probably Twelvetrees, given he’s the first choice and he seems to be getting the rave reviews, although anything can happen up till then)

  23. You only have to look at the way Mike Catt played rugby himself to understand why England’s backline is so useless. Sorry that’s not meant to sound harsh, but Catt was never an elusive/flair/exciting player was he? He was solid, good kicker etc – but never exciting. Hence our backline.

  24. I wouldn’t make loads of changes, I agree we must evolve, and the pack looked better this week. I Manu we have a weapon but we can’t seem to get any strike runners going, not Ashton, not manu.

    Twelvetrees should be brought into the picture for the experience but he has a long way to go. I would look at putting Goode at 12 in the six nations as foden will be back and he is a class act, maybe goode could get guys running off him more often, burns should be on the bench.

  25. I do like Freddie Burns and will be more than happy to see him starting at the weekend but the fact is that Goode is actually a fly-half playing out of position for both club and country. Mike Brown at the back, Goode at flyhalf and give Twelvetrees a chance (who has been playing well recently generally but especially at the breakdown).

  26. Corbisiero, Hartley, Cole
    Parling, Launchbury
    Armitage, Morgan, Wood
    Youngs, Burns
    Twelvetrees, Tuilagi
    Biggs, Sharples

    Vunipola, Youngs?, Wilson??? (Surely there has to be someone better)

    Not many caps, but surely the team set up to play the way we want them to play, with everyone in their correct positions and an impact bench. Just saying. Pin pulled. Stand back!

    1. Sorry forgot – Hartley (c), Haskell there because he can cover entire back row and is impact. Wings – someone help me, no one has put their hand up and Ashton is out of form at present.

    2. Interesting team…

      I wonder if Armitage will get a look in for the Six Nations, given all the media chat there has been. He must be on the radar by now.

      I also quite like the idea of a Burns / Twelvetrees combination at 10 and 12, but would probably have Care in ahead of Youngs at the moment.

      Vunipola, Lawes and the Hask as impact subs – feels like a proper bench.

      1. No Youngs. Care to start, Dickson or perhaps Simpson on the bench

        Gray instead of the other Youngs

        Would take Robshaw over Wood.

        God only knows about wingers. Not sure about Biggs. Some other suggestions, although I’m not sure how all of them are doing:

        JSD (prob injured)
        Topsy Ojo
        Miles Benjamin
        Eastmond (is he ready yet?)
        Lowe (can play wing)
        Jonny May
        Miller (can he play wing?)

        If Wade and Varndell could defend, we’d be laughing

  27. I might be the only one, but i don’t see this series as a failure. We have found another hooker in Youngs, another prop in Vunipola, a new lock in Launchbury and further strength in depth in both Goode and Brown.

    That said, it does worry me that yet again we seem to be in the situation of wanting any form of a win as oppossed to a higher standard of playing style. Does that fall on the players, or the coaches? With that in mind, and the fact that no matter whether we win or lose we have dropped out of the top 4 in the World Rankings, i would throw caution to the wind and experiment a little:

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10. Burns
    11. Biggs
    12. Tuilagi
    13. Joseph
    14. Sharples
    15. Brown

    16. Paice
    17. Vunipola
    18. Wilson
    19. Lawes
    20. Johnson/Haskell/Waldrom – take your pick
    21. Care
    22. Farrell
    23. Goode

    Also, if Farrell argues with his Captain ever again, he should be dropped! SL has made a huge point of pride, commitment and team ethos – and Farrell, IMO, arguing with his Captain is a major disgrace

  28. Tom Woods stats were pretty poor bar his tackling. 1 pass and 5 runs for 5 metres is awful for a blindside. He also gave away 2 stupid penalties and was the only player Youngs couldnt hit in the lineout. Corbs did well at the scrum (well played for getting away with it) but did nothing in the loose.

    He may be getting stick for his wrong decision but Robshaw otherwise had an excellent game. Morgan looked the part too.


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