As the curtain came down on the 2010 RBS Six Nations Championship, there was a more optimistic outlook for English rugby, mixed with frustration that it took until the last game before any improvement was shown. Played five, won two, lost two, drew one – but what have we learned?
Johnno must pick on form
If there’s one thing to take from this tournament is that selection for England should be based on form, rather than reputation. Of course, we’ve all known that for the last six years, but stubborn Johnno should have had his eyes opened by the performance of Ben Foden in Paris.
It seemed that every time the team was announced, there was an air of frustration among the fans, and then after all those changed were made at the end, the whole nation was shouting, ‘I told you so’ when Ashton fed Foden to score against France. That means we really ought to see the likes of Courtney Lawes, Nick Kennedy, Phil Dowson and Ben Youngs if they finish the season strongly.
Sheridan can’t return quickly enough
The front row has been a real problem area over the last few weeks, and the return of Andy Sheridan is needed to shore things up in the set-piece. Although he had a hard time against the French, Dan Cole should be a fixture at tight-head, and with Sheridan on the other side of the scrum, it looks like a much more solid unit.
Hartley’s had his chance
I’ve been a supporter of Hartley this season, watching him captain Northampton, but he has had a poor Six Nations. Lineout throwing was wayward throughout, and he was hauled off at least twice because he was playing badly. I’m not sure what the answer is, because I’m not a huge fan of Lee Mears or Steve Borthwick, but it looks like something needs to change.
Moody is our leader
The fact that nobody was disappointed when Steve Borthwick had to pull out tells us something. Lewis Moody led by example against the French, and I’m sure that the overall improvement in performance had something to do with it. He’s tenacious and committed and deserves his place in the team, and that’s all we’re looking for in a captain at this stage.
The backs need to run
More often than not, when the ball was delivered by the forwards, the backs were standing still and well behind the gainline – unsurprisingly, kicking seems like the best option in that scenario. However, at times, they did decide to run, and they did ask a few questions of defenders by putting pace onto the ball and looking for space.
England’s kicking from hand has been awful, and when that is the chosen approach 90% of the time, it’s not a shock that the game is awful to watch and the team gets nowhere.
There might be one or two things to add to this list, so feel free to let us know your thoughts.