RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v Scotland

15. Ben Foden – 6

Made one early error under the high ball, but generally Foden was solid. Failed to really make an impact when attacking trying to get around the outside of the tackler, but overall a good performance.

14. Chris Ashton – 6

Ashton was very much part of England’s Plan A, i.e. the one with width and ambition. When this clearly wasn’t working, and England moved on to the more direct Plan B, he was involved far less, but he made his share of tackles.

13. Brad Barritt – 8

Excellent. Countless important tackles in midfield, whilst Barritt may have not had much of a chance to cause some damage in attack, his work rate was exceptional.

12. Owen Farrell – 7

There will perhaps be no greater test of Farrell’s character than after his first shot at goal in Test rugby sailed wide. But he focused and whilst again not showing much in attack, produced a solid debut.

11. David Strettle – 7

Stopped from scoring a try thanks down to good work from David Denton after Charlie Hodgson’s cross-field kick. Enjoyed a good comeback to the international game, doing enough to start against Italy.

10. Charlie Hodgson – 8

An 8 might seem excessive, but Hodgson’s first half defence was excellent. With 120 seconds gone of the second half, he had scored the game’s only try, persevering to charge down Dan Parks’ clearance.

9. Ben Youngs – 6

Suffered because of the pack’s lack of control at the breakdown, slowing down his delivery. A couple of wayward kicks didn’t help, but you cannot fault his determination.

1. Alex Corbisiero – 7

Seemed to struggle early on in the scrum up against Euan Murray, but worked hard in the loose, and also secured a crucial turnover late on when Scotland were once more applying the pressure.

2. Dylan Hartley – 6

Had a tough afternoon throwing into the lineout with Richie Gray in front of him, but battled hard as always. Far and away England’s best option at hooker.

3. Dan Cole – 7

11 tackles and a couple of good runs, Cole is more versatile than perhaps people give him credit for.

4. Mouritz Botha – 8

Another Saracen who really impressed, Botha was a physical beast, more than compensating for the loss of Courtney Lawes. Looked very much at home in Test rugby.

5. Tom Palmer – 7

Failed to dominate the lineout under pressure from Gray and Jim Hamilton, but also put in the joint highest number of tackles with 13, equal with Brad Barritt.

6. Tom Croft – 6

One excellent break aside, this was not Croft’s best match. When a fully fit Tom Wood returns, moving Robshaw to the blindside and leaving Croft on the bench could well be an option.

7. Chris Robshaw – 7

England’s new captain had lost his shirt by the half hour mark, leading by example and putting his body on the line. Appeared to leave everything on the pitch, and looked like a player who had played many more than just the one Test match.

8. Phil Dowson – 5

The one real area of concern. Dowson is an excellent blindside flanker but as a number eight he couldn’t handle the physicality. Ben Morgan made more of an impact when he came on, and should probably start against Italy.


Morgan made a noteworthy cameo off the bench, doing enough to suggest he should start next week. Jordan Turner-Hall and Geoff Parling also did well.

37 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v Scotland

  1. Can’t argue too much with these. I might have given Cole a 6 – he missed a couple of fairly straightforward tackles. Hodgson more of a 7 for me – pretty good, but not on a par with Barritt or Botha.

    I thought Dowson was better than people are giving him credit for. He’s a hard-yards kind of player, made 12 tackles (one fewer than Barritt) and was certainly not worse than everyone else.

  2. Agree.

    Team to start next week should be the same as against Scotland with the exception of Ben Morgan coming in at 8. Also, depending on his fitness, would like to see FLood given at least a 35 minute run out

  3. These seem a bit generous? Your own comments make repeated references to “not showing much in attack” yet you still gave them a 7 so if they had shown that they would have scored a 9? Surely the difference between a 7 and an 8/9 is more than simply adding some attack to their game?

    I fear you’ve not given yourself much room here to recognise potentially superior performances. Both teams were average, I would have expected a bunch of 4s and 5s with England shading it due to their superior defence and Scotland losing due to their inability to catch or pass when anywhere near either teams 22.

    By these metrics we can expect a load of 9s and the odd 8 for the Irish and Welsh players?

    Surprised at how much is being made of Robshaw losing his shirt, that it somehow represented a never say die attitude … he tussled with a scrum half who was half his size, the scrum half hanging on to Robshaw’s shirt. Hardly anything in it, it doesn’t signify any killer attitude to me.

    I’m trying to avoid being too negative as I agree with the overall assessment that a win is a win, especially away from home, and that’s good enough for this new England team, but the assessment seems a little overly generous?

    1. Possibly, but giving a 9 to North or Halfpenny doesn’t seem that irrational.

      Ratings, for me anyway, vary game by game. If you’re constantly defending and play with no possession, yet win, then you’ll probably get around a 6 or 7. Only players who scored higher were Barritt, Botha and Hodgson, who perhaps could be given a 7 but his temperament impressed me in the first half and he grabbed the crucial score.

      Given that England won and everyone did their fair share of tackles, without the ball, giving lower than a 6, which is a good performance, would seem wrong. The one player who did score less, Dowson, did so because he was part of an area (the breakdown) where he was needed most and did not produce as good a performance as one might have hoped.

      Plus, who said Robshaw was a killer?

      1. “Ratings, for me anyway, vary game by game.” – In that context then they make some sense. I was thinking from a whole weekend perspective, where England and Scotland were clearly the two most hapless teams. England bereft of attacking ideas, a poor back row that gave no go forward (how can an eight only gain one metre in a whole match?) and a midfield that offered nothing more than tackling. Scotland fail at the utter basics – passing, running and catching. So in the context of what a 10 performance in general rugby could be (for example George North), it’s hard to see Hodgson worth a 7 or even an 8 as suggested elsewhere. But in the context of this one game, without comparing to anything else that was played this weekend or recently, then fair enough. England were the better team.

  4. I think overall the ratings are fair, i would have given hodgeson a 7, dowson a six. It felt like the typical Calcutta match game, all grunt and little flair, I though Barrit was excellent in defence, helped in part by the scottish who kept running at our best tackler in the backline, when they could have been taking advantage of a weak defensive fly half.

    1. I think to call Hodgson a weak defender is no longer correct. He put in some good strong tackles. His defence is one area he has vastly improved on.

      1. Admittedly he is stronger than he used to be, but out of the english backline he was still the weakest tackler, and i am surprised that Scotland didn’t target him.

  5. The ratings are very fair. I think Botha did a lot of great work around the park. He was often the player taking out the Scottish 9 and 10 (respectively) to disrupt the game plan. I feel Hodgson although not spectacular deserves an 8 for dealing with some of the poor service from Ben Youngs which reduced his options significantly and hindered England’s go forward.

    Phil Dowson was solid in defence but his ball carrying came up short (this was highlighted by a great David Denton performance). I would like to see Ben Morgan start he will give the pack more go forward.

  6. Just seen the ratings for Scotland who were the better team whatever the final score and on that basis would suggest that everyone in the England team should be a point lower.

    Have to agree that Ben Morgan looked like a test 8 when he came on and would like to see him start the next game. Not sure what Lancaster is doing about it but he really needs to sort out quick ball. If you look at Wales and Ireland, virtually all their tries came from quick ball. I fear for what will happen if England play them without improving markedly – however, before the start, I would have taken a win from this game and that’s what we got – so to that extent mission accomplished, but I’m not convinced a new era started – it looked a bit Johnsonesque but with younger players!

  7. Agree with all of these ratings, spot on. I personally thought that Botha was in for a shout for man of the match. But Denton did have a cracker!

    I saw on the Wales and England match reaction pages, that a lot of people criticised England for not showing anything in attack. But as you have pointed out, if you are defending for vast majorities of the game, you are not going to get the chance to attack.

    For me the fact that we had really no chances to score a try (but did), and put enough pressure on Scotalnd and defended well, and most importantly, gave away very few penalties, shows that Lancaster has picked his leaders well, and they are getting the message to the other players.

    This was a very good performance from the team as a whole. Let’s not forget this was at Murrayfield. England at Twickenham will be a whole different story.

    1. “But as you have pointed out, if you are defending for vast majorities of the game, you are not going to get the chance to attack.” – I could have picked any similar comment, so not directly having a go at you, but surely it has to be recognised that England are partly to blame for constantly having to defend? You cannot completely seperate attack from defence – England defended for large periods because their back row was ineffectual, their kicking was poor and their attacks were mostly lateral. This in turn gave the ball to Scotland, who were much better at recycling/offloading it and hence were able to keep England under pressure. In short England defended for long periods because that was what they were best at in that game, you can’t excuse their lack of attack by trying to say it wasn’t their fault they were defending all the time…

      1. I see your point. And I think a lot of the wayward kicks were due to Young’s relatively poor game. This also didn’t help Hodgson get the back line moving to much effect either. But yes, if we had kept the ball in hand a little more, we could have been dangerous. I think Barritt is a great player, but he needs someone on his shoulder when he is attacking, and we didn’t see that in this match. Against Italy, we could see a very different performance. At least I hope so.

        1. Italy is a tricky game for England to have next as they’re a bit damned whatever they do. If it’s a tryfest then the “it’s only Italy” tag will come out, if it’s not then they’ll get the same abuse from a different angle. I think England need to play one of the other 3 next – get it sorted out whether they’ve got what they need against one of the 3 teams that look in some sort of form. A thumping win against Italy may be exactly what they don’t need as it might give a false sense of security.

          Ben Youngs isn’t much of a surprise to me. He looks good when behind a massive and dominant pack, not that much when he doesn’t have that luxury. He compounds this with poor temperament when the ball isn’t going his way. How he remained on the field when Leics played Ulster I’ll never know. I think Lancaster has picked Youngs on reputation, not on form.

          1. I also think Lancaster was hoping that Youngs would show his experience, but this was not the case. I think with Flood at 10, he would be more comfortable. But if your scrum half can’t adapt to different players outside him, then he should be dropped. maybe Simpson should be given a start. He has to be top of the list now behind Youngs, given that Dickson jr. is injured.

  8. Would actually drop everyone down 1 (except Robshaw). Yes our defence was 90% good, but we never really looked like scoring (or creating much). Team to face Italy?

    1. Corbisiero
    2. Hartley
    3. Cole
    4. Botha
    5. Parling (Palmer looked off his game + he’s 32 – need to give others experience)
    6. Dowson (know what Croft can do, give Dowson another chance)
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs (only because Dickson is now ruled out)
    10. Flood
    11. Strettle
    12. Farrell
    13. Barritt
    14. Sharples (deserves a chance to show what he can do)
    15. Foden

    16. Webber
    17. Marler
    18. Palmer
    19. Croft
    20. Simpson
    21. JTH
    22. Brown

    1. I’m liking your idea of Dowson at 6, with Morgan at 8. Dowson is much better at 6, and you’re right we all know what Croft can do. Personally I would keep Palmer and Hodgson. Palmer has the experience needed in the team, and Hodgson should start, if only because Flood needs to get completely match fit before playing in an international. We don’t want to throw him in against Italy and have a recurrence of his injury and miss him for more crucial games.

  9. Am i the only one who thinks Ben Youngs may have shone a little too early in his career? He is constantly providing slow/bad passes, never wants to put the ball into the scrum and no longer producing any of his trademark snipes. What i am seeing though is a young guy who may have a slight ego problem (just like ashton). If it wasn’t for injuries/bans, i’d personally drop him till he properly rediscovers form.

    1. Interesting to see that Dickson senior has been called up to the squad. I thought maybe Lancaster would really be brave and give Spencer a shot on the big stage?

      1. I know what everyone is saying about Youngs and he definitely isn’t at the top of his game at the moment, but I do like a bit of chippiness in a S/H, probably more so than at any other position (definitely not wing by the way!) as a S/H has to boss the game a bit. Not so worried about that but he is off form and that is a worry.

        However have seen it on previous occasions when a player has come through, done well, goes off the boil, gets dropped and then comes back as a more consistent player. Therefore hope it is a blip in his development not the beginning of the end!

  10. For me, Croft, Dowson, Palmer and Youngs deserve to be dropped for the next match or at least, in the case of Dowson, moved to the blind-side (if Wood is still injured)

    The main reason that our play at the breakdown was poor was because it was only ever Robshaw and Botha trying to compete. Dowson was ineffectual and Croft just doesn’t do the hard work. It was too easy for the Scots forwards just to blast us off the ball

    And on that note, what ever happened to counter-rucking? I lost count of the number of times that England could have driven straight over the Scottish ball and caused a turnover. It actually seems that the plan is not to counter-ruck

    Youngs was poor all the way through, slow pass, awful kicking (both direction and timing) and far too slow to put the ball into the scrum. Dickson looked twice a good – its a damn shame he’s injured. Youngs is out of form (he has been for Leicester as well) and needs to be dropped until he comes good with his club

    Still, for an inexperienced unit to win a match like that takes some guts. With the confidence that must have given them, I really hope they kick on from here.

  11. Personally, I thought Corbisiero had his best game in an England shirt, and Botha was everywhere. England’s slow ball problem has not been solved, and they seem to be dithering at every breakdown, attack and defence, about how many to commit and how many to hang out. Serious work is needed there.

    We picked a Saracens back line (in essence) and with a Saracens back coach, we got a Saracens back performance with little invention and spark. Still, it was enough to beat Scotland. I feel for my Scottish friends, they have some promising talent, but they are already looking at a potentially embarrassing and coach-changing zero points this year. Can you see them beating anyone but Italy?

    1. Agree about the Sarries backline. I don’t think it was through choice injuries kind of forced Lancaster into picking them. When all fit i think i would go for
      10: Flood
      12: Barrit
      13: Tuilagi

      1. Yeah. He missed a couple of straight-forward tackles as well.

        Stick Marler on the bench (he’s certainly not unfit) and hope that Cole doesn’t get injured

        1. That’s a big hope!!!!! If he pulled a hammy (do props have hamstrings?) in the first minute and our scrum got taken to the cleaners by the Italians, it wouldn’t look like a clever move by Lancaster!

          1. No, I know. Depressing isn’t it?

            Do we have anyone other than Stevens who can play both sides of the scrum?

  12. Botha England’s MOTM. Immense. He was everywhere.
    Dowson – a little disappointing for sure. Let’s not write him off yet. Has a lot more to offer at 6.
    Unlike Croft – is it just me? I just don’t think he’s delivering as a 6. Forget the line-out. That’s just an added bonus. He’s not doing the key things we need from a 6.
    Hodgson – well done to him, he did his job and Lewis Moody would have been proud of that charge down. It wasn’t a lucky try, he created it.
    Barritt and Farrell – I thought both were good, and would keep them for sure. This Farrell kid has balls.
    Youngs – kid needs to work on his basics like passing. Some of those bricks he threw at Hodgson were embarrassing at this level. He needs to realize that being a world class 9 is about doing the basics perfectly first, and then the flashes of brilliance will come. Pity about Dickson.

    1. Am with you on Croft. Just don’t see it and never have done. A good bench option ‘cos he can cover lock as well, but (assuming Wood is injured) I’d rather see Dowson or Clark there

      When Wood comes back, Robshaw at 6, Wood at 7 and Morgan at 8 please Mr Lancaster

    2. Tom Croft should play lock – he played in that position back in 2008-09 for Leicester and I never really understood why he didn’t stay there. I agree that he’s not doing the key things we expect from a 6 very well. But other aspects of his game are immense such as the speed with which he can cover ground either in attack or defence. There was also the problem that the commentators kept thinking he was Robshaw!

      Imagine him alongside Lawes……now that would be a pretty dynamic second row.

      1. Dynamic for sure. Lightweight definitely

        Just don’t think Croft has the heft to play lock other than as cover

  13. Youngs, Croft and Dowson underperformed for me. Probably stuck with Youngs for the time being. Prepared to give Dowson another chance, but Croft is better on hard fast pitches where he can show his speed. Didn’t happen for him at Murrayfield so therefore agree with Dowson to 6 and Morgan in at 8.

    1. completely agree staggy.

      not surprisingly those positions are vital cogs in a rugby machine and being newly together explains partly why it didnt fire properly.

      Youngs is only 23 and we have to stick with him as he will improve.Hodgson is warming floods shirt and Croft is only keeping Woods shirt warm for him.

      I really hope we see Wood, Robshaw and morgan v italy.

      robshaw really impressed in every way – but most of all his attitude, he WANTS to win. (i like how the england pack patted him on the back after getting into a scrap with 5 scots in the 1st 5 mins!)

      Morgan looks like he can get go forward, id love to see more of him.

      Our back row lacked the ability to get over the gain line and against the better sides ( Picamole, heaslip) , you positively need that.

      Italians wont be easy……

  14. To come away from Edinburgh with a win was a great start. But I agree with what people are saying on here. Youngs for me lacks discipline, seems as if he bas a chip on bus shoulder, which is all well and good if you can back it up with consistently good performances. Croft was also under par. On the plus side though Botha looks good, esoeciall

  15. To come away from Edinburgh with a win was a great start. But I agree with what people are saying on here. Youngs for me lacks discipline, seems as if he bas a chip on bus shoulder, which is all well and good if you can back it up with consistently good performances. Croft was also under par. On the plus side though Botha and Barrit look good, and Farrel. As for attack, there is a lot of room for improvement, but there is hope that this set of players can deliver. Nice to see the players so together as well, really working for each other.

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