France v England: England player ratings


15. Mike Brown: 7
Produced a brilliant finish for his first try in international rugby, but was forced to play most of the game on the wing where he is less effective than at fullback. Still managed to carry well and make 66 metres.

14. Jack Nowell: 6
Knocked on with his first touch of international rugby and there were a few other errors that smacked of inexperience, but there was also plenty of good from the Exeter winger. Worked hard to get himself in the game and made a couple of encouraging carries. Errors to be ironed out, but plenty more to come also.

13. Luther Burrell: 7
Was largely anonymous in the first half before roaring into everyone’s consciousness with a brilliant support line to score the try that propelled England into the lead. With his debut out of the way expect him to be more conspicuous next week.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 5
Not a great afternoon for Twelvetrees. Threw a couple of distinctly average passes for a man that is supposed to be a distributor and failed to make any inroads with his carrying. Partnership with Burrell needs time to gel.

11. Jonny May: 5
Went off after eight minutes but still managed to look lively with a couple of darting runs. If he can remain fit he’s still a great option for England in the future.

10. Owen Farrell: 8
Farrell’s best performance in an England shirt bar none. Attacked the gainline well, and his gorgeous delayed pass to Vunipola in the build-up to Burrell’s try was reminiscent of Nonu’s over the summer against Argentina. There have been flashes in the pan like this before from Farrell – he must back this up next weekend in Scotland.

9. Danny Care: 7.5
Did what he was picked to do – injected tempo into England’s attack. His quick tap was directly responsible for Brown’s try that got England back into the match at the end of the first half. Would have had a much higher score were it not for a few wayward box kicks. Sort that side of his game out and Care can be world class.

1. Joe Marler: 7.5
Plenty of the bullocking runs in the loose that he made his name for, while he also dealt well with Nicolas Mas in the scrums. Set piece was noticeably weaker after he went off.

2. Dylan Hartley: 7
Like Marler, Hartley’s substitution crucially weakened the set piece. Didn’t carry to as great effect as the loosehead prop but has now edged ahead of Youngs as the bona fide first choice at hooker.

3. Dan Cole: 7
After being dominated by Domingo in the first couple of scrums it seemed as though it would be a long old afternoon for Cole. To his credit he rallied superbly to gain at least parity, and lasted the full 80 minutes – no mean feat for a prop. Also carried much more than usual.

4. Joe Launchbury: 7.5
More understated excellence from the baby-faced Launchbury, who was everywhere once again. Incredible to think that he is still just 22 years old.

5. Courtney Lawes: 8
The Lawes/Launchbury axis is developing beautifully, and the Northampton man put in another solid shift in Paris. Oozed physicality as England fought back into the match.

6. Tom Wood: 7
Abrasive as ever, Wood may have been outplayed by the world class Nyanga but that does not mean he did not play an important part in bringing England back into the game. England’s top tackler with 11.

7. Chris Robshaw: 6.5
Full of heart as ever, and carried well as part of a back row that took the ball to the line an astonishing 42 times. Perhaps could have offered a bit more at the breakdown but it did not impact the result.

8. Billy Vunipola: 8.5
England’s best player and Vunipola’s best performance in an England shirt. Consistently busted over the gainline, cut a brilliant line off Farrell’s shoulder in the build-up to Burrell’s try and had the presence of mind to offload to the charging centre after bouncing off several defenders. Also gave the scoring pass for Brown’s try.

Replacements: 4
Sadly, this is where it all went wrong for England. Alex Goode again looked half a yard short of pace on several occasions, and was beaten in a tiny space by Huget in the build-up to his second try. Tom Youngs and Mako Vunipola carried well in the loose but weakened the set piece catastrophically as England failed to drive home their dominance. Brad Barritt’s inclusion was somewhat baffling given that he came on for the only winger England had left on the pitch, and forced Burrell to play out of position.

Ben Morgan was the only shining light amongst the replacements, carrying with almost as much physicality as Billy Vunipola. The duel between those two in years to come should be epic.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

23 thoughts on “France v England: England player ratings

  1. Think you’re being a tad generous to a couple of players there. I’m thinking mainly of Faz, who I’d give a 7 (it was his best game yet for England, but that’s not saying much), Cole, and Wood, who had an unusually quiet game. I’d put Lawes at England’s best player, Billy V made a couple of errors, some of them rather glaring, in the opening 30 minutes, whereas Lawes was damn near spotless all game.

    Somewhat petty gribbles though.

    1. Agree on Wood – he had a particularly quiet game by his standards. Thought Stephen Jones in the Sunday Times was very harsh, saying something along the lines of ‘it’s not clear what he offers at this level’. Given his MOM (and subsequent glowing writeup by Mr. Jones) in the win against NZ, I’d say he’s proved his worth!

  2. Twelvetrees is currently running on borrowed time. It’s not his fault he’s now played inside 5 different outside centres (Barritt, Tuilagi, Joseph, Tomkins and Burrell) and that can’t help, but he is yet to really make his mark on international rugby, especially the way Burrell did with his try. Going forward a Burrell/Tuilagi centre partnership could be potentially devestating, it would be great to see the two of them together for the New Zealand tour. I’d possibly keep Twelvetrees for the Scotland game to give him one more chance, as Barritt’s improved defensive capabilities may not be necessary against a Scotland attack devoid of attacking ideas. Bringing Eastmond in, potentially at 13 outside Burrell, could however bring another dimension to England’s attack. It’s a difficult call to make though.

    Not sure what to do about the winger situation, especially if Jonny May is out. I think Nowell is worth another chance, he should be less nervous now his debut is out the way. Brown and Goode in the same team doesn’t work, and I probably wouldn’t have them both in the same 23, as if we get an injury to a winger it forces them into the same team. Watson must come into the reckoning, to start if May is out or in the 23 shirt if May is fit to play.

    1-10 were all good enough to retain their places in my opinion.

    So team for Scotland:
    Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw (C), Vunipola
    Care, Farrell, Watson, Twelvetrees, Burrell, Nowell, Brown
    Youngs, Vunipola, Thomas, Attwood, Morgan, Dickson, Ford, Eastmond.

  3. This is probably the fairest set of ratings I’ve seen anywhere in the media. Agree that Care was good but he absolutely has to sort his kicking out if he’s going to retain the 9 shirt for England. I don’t think box kicking is a strength for any of the 9s in the EPS (Dickson probably has the best kicking game of the three) but given that England’s game plan seems to involve quite a lot of it, it needs to be a focus. Care kicked aimlessly and conceded far too much possession – marring an otherwise excellent shift. Potentially a case for bringing Wrigglesworth in as this is a real strength of his game?

    I continue to question what Tom Youngs actually offers as a hooker rather than, say, a number 8 – excellent carrying but he’s consistently shown that he’s not strong enough in the scrum, and that lineouts not thrown to the front are more than likely to go astray. I’d say that these are skills that hookers need to fulfill first. His premiership throw completion stats may be very high but I’d gamble on saying that Leicester throw a lot more ball to the front than England do – then there’s the obvious statement that international rugby is a whole different kettle of fish with regards to pressure.

    I’m intrigued by the suggestion of a Burrell/Tuilagi midfield – let’s see how Burrell does for the rest of the 6N but I’m certainly not seeing anything from 12T meriting his future selection at the moment. A 12/13 of Burrell and Manu would be a truly terrifying sight!

    1. 2 boshers, i.e. a return to the dark days of Tindall and Noon? No thanks, I’d like the ball to occasionally make it to the wings. Burrell is a player in the same mold as Tuilagi at the moment, he’s good at what he does but what he does is run into people. We need a distributor somewhere in the centres, and while Manu CAN pass/offload he often doesn’t. 36 when on song is very capable of throwing the ball out wide (my head dropped into my hands when he dropped it onto his boot with a nice big overlap and space to breathe) and we need some of that in the centres as well. If on form 36 + Tuilagi is the centre pairing we need, if Twelvetrees continues to fail to deliver on his initial promise then we need to look elsewhere not stick a second bosher in to kill the ball in the centres. If Ford looks good at 10 then Faz might work, he plays IC for his club a fair bit and debuted there for England.

        1. Agreed – the ‘bosher’ stereotype might have been true when he first arrived but he’s developed a beautiful passing game with the help of Alex King. The reason Saints have been scoring more tries this season is because Burrell is better at getting the ball out wide than Downey ever was, but he’s both quicker and more of a lump than Downey as well!

          Who are the other options at 12 apart from Twelvetrees (who seemed completely unable to pass the ball on Saturday, preferring to run laterally in to contact)? Farrell isn’t a serious call given he’s the first choice 10 and only occasionally plays 12.

          1. Farrell plays 12 more than he does 10 for his club and played there on his debut for England. The reason we’re all somewhat unimpressed with his performance at FH is that it’s not his natural position. I’m not convinced he’s a world-beating IC either, but technically it is his usual position

            1. Looking back through Sarries teamsheets, it would appear that Farrell has started at 12 once this season – doesn’t sound like his natural position to me.

              1. Check last season, he’s been filling in for Hodgson a lot this year, due to Charlie being injured for a while and lacking match fitness, plus his age.

                1. Mmmm don’t think that’s right, Farrell’s always primarily been a fly-half, but has switched to 12 on occasion to accommodate Hodgson at Sarries or Ford at Eng U21 level. Not saying he can’t do a job at 12, but 10 is definitely where he has played most of his rugby. There’s no way England would be backing him as their long term 10 if he wasn’t playing regular rugby there.

                  Also re Burrell – he has far better distribution than people give him credit for. Playing 13 outside 12T, his role wasn’t a distributing one, but when he plays 12 for Saints with Pisi outside him he does just that. I think a combo of him and Tuilagi could work just fine.

        2. Hmmm. Saw basically none of it on Saturday and haven’t seen much of it for Saints. Not saying you’re wrong but it’s an aspect of his game which he has concealed extremely effectively thus far

    2. I think my dream centre pairing is Tuilagi outside Eastmond, if only Eastmond could keep up his Argentina form!

  4. Lawes deserves more – he stole at the lineout, caught his own balls, carried better than I’ve seen him do recently, worked hard at the breakdown, showed good hands and decent judgement out wide and put a few of his normal jarring tackles. What more can he do?

      1. Touché.
        My hyperbole got the betterof me. Just thought that he looks to be becoming the player I always hoped he would be.

  5. Touch generous for the props, don’t think you can claim to have had a good game as a prop if your are losing the scrum battle.

    Thought this was one of Launchbury’s lesser performances, need to keep in mind he completely missed the kick off (tough blaming Nowell for a knock on of a ball that should never have come to him) as well, maybe 6.5.

    Nowell hit a lot bogeys and a few birdies, some encouraging signs but on balance probably only a 5.

    The 36 situation is annoying, I’ll stick some blame at Lancaster’s door for demoting him behind Barritt when he was on such good form last year. He should have cemented the his place in the team by now. I’m hoping the next few games mirror the autumn series where he started poorly but got much better, however if Tuilagi is fit at some point this 6N 36 should make way on current form.

  6. I think dropping twelvetrees now would be a big blow to his confidence, I would give him the game against Scotland And hope he has a blinder. Would replace barritt with eastmond on bench ready to mix it up if not working and replace Goode with Watson. If may out then start Watson and bring in Daley for bench option.

  7. Ball in play time was 46 minutes. Considering the average is 32 minutes, and that 46 minutes I believe is a record, that’s effectively playing 120 minutes of normal rugby (at a pace to fit it into 80). Players getting subbed at 60 and 65 mins (even 55) due to the coaches thinking they were tired to the point that their replacements would do better, seems like a ridiculously smart choice to me now.

  8. I keep being in absolute shock that SL is getting blame for substitutions.

    Nowell went off injured, so Barritt coming on for him wasn’t a decision made by him.

    Both wingers got injured, no international bench accommodates for that, terrible luck.

    Youngs and Vunipola didn’t do well enough in the set piece. But these two players who picked up three Lions test caps last summer, so it isn’t SLs fault they did not perform.

    Care was putting up woeful box kicks in a game that was going to be very, very tight going into the last 20, and he looked out of puff. Dickson was the right call.

    England lost. Some parts of that were very unlucky (not an excuse), but I’m not surprised we tired in the last 10 minutes in particular based on the fact the ball was in play for a record amount of time, and we gave away a 16-3 lead then had to bust our gut to get ourselves back in the game.

  9. I’m thoroughly confused by some of the criticism of some of the England players.

    Tom Youngs – criticised for destabilising the scrum that I thought was better after he came on – Hartley failing to hook a few times, I thought the scrum looked better. Criticised for the line out which he was 100% on in my memory but Hartley threw a few loose throws. He also carried more than twice as much in the loose than Hartley with a lot less ball. That said, I wouldn’t pick him over Hartley at the minute, but he’s not a terrible guy to bring on

    Danny Care – the usual run up a blind alley. England scored from one of his tap and goes so nobody notices the other runs where he was isolated and lost the ball or the opportunity when he thought he could run through two forwards instead of passing into space. I think if England didn’t score from his tap and go he’d be massively criticised.

    12trees – an iffy pass and a poor take, but let’s be honest, there was plenty of that from England. Criticism over his kick to the corner. I thought it was brilliant. Near half way, two outside him French defence drifting over. 12trees sees space and blasts it right down in the 22 for England to pressure the lineout.He had two options and took one, I’d rather that than dithering

    Mike Brown – scored a try (finally). Made 4 tackles missed 3. Poor defence for a wing/fullback. less impressive stats than Nowell who is criticised for a single dropped ball (missed by Launchbury)

    Farrell – the golden boy for many was the architecht of Englands poor first half for me. He did operate much better in the second half and deserves commendation, but if you only play one half of rugby, you don’t get high scores.

    Courtney Lawes – tackled… great stole a lineout. Should have been yellow carded on 10 minutes for taking a man out in the air at the lineout (was very lucky no one saw it). Needs to sort his head out because I still think he’s a big risk and his desperation to put a big impressive hit in often sees him flying out of the line and leaving a hole.

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