Italy v England: England player ratings

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15. Mike Brown: 9.5
It’s become rather difficult to keep this fresh. The undisputed player of the Six Nations capped a superlative-brimming tournament with a man-of-the-match performance against Italy. Two tries and an assist, 133 metres made, five defenders beaten – his statistical excellence cannot be denied. No longer just a solid option at the back, but now also England’s most potent attacking weapon.

14. Jack Nowell: 7
Had one of his better games of the Six Nations and took his try well, although the Italy defensive effort from first phase was hardly convincing. In a game that England wanted to open up, he probably could have worked a bit harder to get himself on the ball a bit more, but when he did, he looked threatening.

13. Luther Burrell: 8.5
Looked thoroughly disgruntled, for want of a stronger word, at being substituted early in the second half, and rightly so after another brilliant performance in an England shirt. His half break and offload for the first try was glorious, and while he does not possess the brute strength of his replacement, he has far more intelligence. Tuilagi’s undisputed dominance of the England 13 shirt is over.

12. Billy Twelvetrees: 7
A quieter performance from Twelvetrees, after last week’s heroics against Wales. He distributed well and showed a couple of nice offloads, but was outshone by those around him. Still, the distributing role that he fulfils is a vital one, and he offers a nice alternative to Farrell at first receiver.

11. Jonny May: 5
This game should have been made for him. It was open, and while four other English backs crossed the whitewash he never looked like threatening the Italian line. His lateral running, which works so well at club level as he usually ends up spotting a gap, has not worked on the international stage. Whether it is because he lacks the confidence of games in his Gloucester shirt, or because there is less time/space, is unimportant.

10. Owen Farrell: 8
Hit a superb line for his try that suggests he could well do a job at centre in future, and he stood consistently flat to bring a host of dangerous players outside him into the game well. A try and two assists would usually score you higher, but he is docked a point for the petulant aggression that saw England penalised at the death in a try-scoring situation. Seriously needs to cut that streak out of his game.

9. Danny Care: 8
Another sparky, scampering display from a man who has been vital in injecting life into the English attack. He plays the game at such a high tempo that he drags others with him – do not underestimate his influence on Farrell’s transformation into an attacking weapon in that regard.

1. Mako Vunipola: 7
There is no doubting that Vunipola is England’s most effective loosehead in open play, consistently barrelling his way over the gainline and taking an opportune try well. However, he still has issues at scrum time. The Italians couldn’t really make the most of them, but would you feel comfortable with him starting against the South Africans? Probably not.

2. Dylan Hartley: 7.5
Much better from Hartley, who has clearly learnt his lesson from the penalty-laden display against Wales. His lineout throwing was again sublime, and he was also a nuisance both with and without ball in hand in the loose.

3. David Wilson: 6.5
There isn’t too much to say about Wilson’s performance, really – it was neither excellent nor terrible. He had less luck against Matias Aguero than against Gethin Jenkins the week before, but was generally solid.

4. Joe Launchbury: 6.5
He has to be docked points for the intercept pass to Sarto, sadly. It killed England’s momentum at a time when they were really starting to believe they could set Ireland a target. Other than that, however, it was another unassumingly tireless effort from Launchbury who hit everything in a blue shirt in a sweaty shift under the Italian sun.

5. Courtney Lawes: 7.5
More brutal physicality from a man who has been one of England’s players of the tournament. His transformation into a lineout guru is now officially complete, after he again oversaw a strong set-piece display, including an important steal in the build-up to Mike Brown’s first try.

6. Tom Wood: 7
As always, it was an unfussy performance from Wood. He made his tackles, he hit his rucks, and he took his lineouts. On that note, he has become a really important source of set-piece ball for England.

7. Chris Robshaw: 8
The ultimate leader-by-example, Robshaw’s seemingly unflinching work rate was exemplified by his last minute try when he tracked a break from George Ford to crash over the line from short range. That he was the man popping up on the shoulder of the substitute fly-half after 80 minutes of hard work tells you everything you need to know about him.

8. Ben Morgan: 7.5
Another solid performance from Morgan, who offers more around the park than Vunipola. He has the hands and the brain to play the link-man role, while there were also plenty of strong carries that saw him end with 44 metres made. A more than capable deputy to big Billy.

Replacements: 8
There were two great success stories here: Manu Tuilagi and George Ford. The former showed exactly why he was rushed back into the squad with a brutish barge over the try line from ten metres out, while the latter came on for his second cap and immediately showed how dangerous he can be with a smart break and pass to send Robshaw over.

Elsewhere Dave Attwood put in another superb cameo that included a galavanting charge down the pitch as well as shoring up the scrum, whilst it was also good to see Tom Johnson get some game time again.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

43 thoughts on “Italy v England: England player ratings

  1. May has been a real disappointment for me and, while Nowell has fared slightly better, neither have set the International stage alight. Lancaster never came close to picking another winger this tournament so both should have had the confidence to really go for it.

    With Yarde back to full fitness he should come back in on the left wing, and if Wade can get back to his best I’d like to see him come in on the right wing. Nowell is a good option as he can also cover full-back, but one try in 5 games isn’t a great return in an England side that managed 4 tries.

    Otherwise everyone played well and will take some dislodging when players return to fitness.

    The scheduling farce this summer should open the door to a few more players, and one I want to see more of is obviously George Ford. If Bath don’t make the final I’d start him in the first test and tell him he’s going to start all 3 tests. You really need a run of games to bed in at International level and giving him all 3 starts would give him some confidence to challenge Farrell for the 2014/15 season.

  2. Generally more happy with Nowell than May, but the one thing that did disappoint was his kick chase. Not sure that I ever believed that he was going to take one of the catches when challenging. Not the best attribute for a FB. Still he is young and can work on his game.

  3. Nowell over May?

    Please.

    One is a game changing, try scoring finisher …… the other a slow, non-try scoring media darling who is lucky to be in the squad, let along 15.

    Mind you, now Me-me-me Tiggy is back, you could play Geoff Boycott on the wing, he will not be seeing any ball.

    1. The slow media darling scored a try, the game changer didn’t come close.

      Although I think May has a lot more potential he hasn’t delivered and this was by far his worst game.

      Me-me-me played his second game of the season and first international (bar a token appearance off the bench in the 3rd Lions test) for a year. I doubt he was instructed to go and throw the ball about, I was perfectly happy to see him going hard and straight (over the try line).

    2. I wonder what premiership team you support, and whether that might be colouring your perceptions slightly…

  4. Agree with the ratings, bar replacements being an 8 overall.
    – Manu, Ford and Attwood were hits, but removing Burrell when he’s having a blinder is a really odd decision. I can only guess that they haven’t trained with Burrell at 12 at all and maybe this was the only switch he could make to bring Manu on.
    – Mullan added something in the scrum and Vuni was knackered
    – Johnson did OK
    – The lineout misfired again when Youngs came on, but I can’t say it was a bad decision to introduce him as lineout went OK last week.
    – Dickson killed any threat around the fringes and turned over twice. The K/P/R for Dickson was 0/19/0, compare that to Care 9/59/10. No variety from Dickson, no threat and stopped all momentum. Whilst it was a role-the-dice situation unless Care was injured I think it was a bonkers decision.

    1. Matt, I understand that they had trained with Burrell/Tuilagi in the 12/13 combination during the week, as Twelvetrees was carrying an injury. Makes it ever more strange to make the change that they did.

      It also explains why they kept Eastmond with the squad.

      1. In which case, in my decision making taxonomy, I classify that as bonkers! Only logical argument I can possibly think of is because they were also planning on changing 36 for Faz later in the game they didn’t want to have 3 different people play 12. But removing a guy who is on fire and keeping a guy who is doing OK (and hasn’t trained all week) doesn’t seem right to me.

    2. The obvious decsion, given how badly he was playing, would have been to take may off for Manu, but I suspect the coaches were desperate for May to get a try for his confidence, whcih has gone down hill since the no try versus Ireland. His inside darts were good in the ealry mates becuase they were unexpected, but he just became so predictable going insude almost every time and then usually get turned over.

      England really need to find some wings who can finish.

  5. Doesn’t Burrell usually play inside centre for his club? He should definitely have stayed on the pitch anyway as he was playing awesomely – again. I had genuinely expecting Tuilagi to replace May on the wing – lancaster had even hinted as much earlier in the week and with May having a bit of a stinker it seemed an obvious choice. The idea of Burrell’s all-round combination of size, speed, strength and creativity at centre, with Tuilagi steaming in off his wing as an optional crash-ball strike-runner in midfield would surely scare the shit out of opposition defences.

    1. Except it just doesn’t work. Tuilagi is a centre, his strength, ability and vision comes from playing at centre. Playing as a winger isn’t just the same as playing centre with less passing as a lot of people seem happy to suggest. It’s like expecting a fly half to turn up in a 6 shirt because they’re both typically big tacklers

      1. Although I think your example of a 10 playing at 6 is a little extreme (for the want of a better word) maybe a second row playing at 6 would have been a better example.

        Anyhow I agree with you that Tuilagi on the wing wouldn’t work. Mainly because I don’t feel you get the best of him, also his lack of top speed pace (if that makes any kind of sense) and his sometimes odd decision making in defence would be a worry.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it made it easier for other teams to defend against him as well.

        Then add in the fact we’ve got some pretty decent wingers (when they’re fit and play to form) and I think it is a no go to be honest.

  6. Agree with the scores. I think going forward Burrell and Tuilagi could be a very good centre combination. Burrell plays most of his rugby at 12 for Saints.
    Yarde and Wade should definitely be in when fit. May has plenty of pace, but spent too much time running in field and cutting off space for other players. Maybe he would be better off as a centre option as well?
    I thought the combination of Ford and Farrell was excellent when Ford came on. They spent a lot of time playing alongside each other in the U20’s, and they compliment each others skills. Farrell, Burrell Tuilagi with Ford to come on and Farrell move to 12 for last 20? Could really push some tired defences.

    1. I think Burrell and Tuilagi deserve at least a chance to play together. It’s possible that England might lose a bit of playmaking ability, but we won’t know until it is tried. I like the idea of shifting Farrell to 12 for the latter stages, both centres would know they have to play a blinder not to get subbed, and having Farrell to keep the kicking duties will allow Ford to ease into the role.

  7. Although I agree that Burrell was having a good game, I wasn’t impressed with his attitude to being subbed. For me there is a difference with not wanting to go off because you want to carry on playing and have a strop because you don’t think you should have been taken off. And from what I saw (and how it was reported) on the tele it seem to be the latter. Which is disappointing as I didn’t think he was that sort of player.

    I feel Nowell being treated a bit harshly. The guy is only 20 and winning his first few caps. Give him a chance, yes he has made a few mistake but he has done some good things as well, his defence is fairly solid and he has good strength as well for someone of his side.

    May has bags of pace and ability but just looks short of confidence, I’m guessing not helped by Gloucester’s poor form this season.

    Personally I would like to see both of them get a few more starts as I’m not convinced by Yarde, he seems to drift in and out of games and at times doesn’t always look that interested. Plus he also has petulant strike that nobody seems to like in Farrell. And Wade has had a long injury lay-off and I think should be eased back, not chucked in at the deep end.

    Overall I feel England are going strong and building nicely for the World Cup. And I have this feeling that they could do something a little bit special in the summer.

    1. Graeme, you speak a lot of sense there, and I agree that we should work with May and Nowell, as I do believe they both have a lot to offer. I am not convinced that Wade and Yarde are necesarilly the better players at this time.

      As for Burrell, I will go slightly against the grain here and suggest that Saturday was not his best game. He ran well for sure, but for the first time (that I have noticed) some of his passing was quite poor. He has a reputation (contrary to what many casual observers seem to think) for being a passer of high standard, but I am not sure he maintained those standarsd – that he himself has set – on Saturday.

      1. I think that Wade is probably our best winger as he has that x factor and that something a little bit special the others don’t really have. Yarde combines speed and power well, but I think he just needs to mature first. He is still young himself.

        I would agree that Burrell wasn’t having his best game, compared to his high standards, but think the may reason he was brought off, was so that 36 & Tuilagi got some game time as they will more than likely be the starting centres in the 1st Test come the summer.

  8. Rob

    Altho I didn’t watch most of the game due to another SH game at the same time(!), I esp agree with yr comments regds Ford. His initiation seems to be likely (if he ever gets picked!) in NZ. SL shud have given him a runout long before now instead of chucking him in @ the d/end.

    In games where the oppo is at about the std of Morocco, the Faroe Islands or Iceland (the S’mkt Grp), player rating will tend to skyrocket. Whether they’re meaningful may be another story.

  9. From some above comments, there seems to be some confusion in Lancs’ thinking baout his m/field. Was he trying to win the game V Italy with 49+ pts in mind (therefore presumably keeping Burrell on) or looking to the future (NZ; & giving Tui a go)?

    Presonally, I don’t see the latter getting away with running accross the pitch & busting defenders off @ Int’al level in June as he does for Leicester @ club level. Diff game… & he’ll be away!

    Same for Burrell. His real tests are yet to come. He’s looked strongish in the 6N in a mainly winning team, but will he look so good with his back agin the wall as is likely for him too in June?

    Too early to talk either up just yet methinks. Also, does/will the England midfield function like JS’s Ire did v Fr? That’s the real ? And they still look light yrs away from that deft functioning of a well oiled machine for me.

    Additionally Farrell has been lucky with a few late late/high/no arms tackles & petulent acts recently. Will he give it away in NZ? He may need a valium pill or 2.

    But the real stand out of course is Mike Brown. ought to have been in 2 yrs ago.

    1. Because it’s not like Tuilagi has any history in being able to flatten Kiwis or anything (hence the Dan Carter tweet), hopefully he can pick out Aaron Smith again for a bit more treatment.

      Newsflash, Lancaster has an eye on 2015 this is what we are building towards. We are not working specifically towards a summer tour as a goal in it’s own right. An away game against Italy with a 6N championship on the line is far bigger game (more important game) than playing New Zealand away with nothing on the line. Yes testing ourselves against the best this summer is exciting, but given Lancaster doesn’t have a clue which players will be available to him he certainly wasn’t doing any experimentation on Saturday because he was worrying about the summer tour. Take a look at the photos of the England team watching France Vs Ireland, nothing outside of a world cup comes close to what a 6N title means to NH players.

      I appreciate as a follower the world’s best team it’s easy to assume that an opportunity to play the ABs is the highlight of everyone’s rugby year, but that’s not the case 6N means more!

    2. Whilst the NZ tour is huge for England’s development, it is not the yardstick against whether a player is good enough.

      Burrell has proven himself to be a very effective international player, his performances in NZ, good or bad, won’t change that.

      The NZ tour only essentially has two matches, as the first test we will be missing half or more of our side.

      Also, the Tuilagi observation seems strange, particularly considering his performances against the likes of NZ and Australia in the past. I don’t think Tuilagi’s ability to bust holes in international defences can be doubted. His all round game, yes, but his ability to be effective at Test level, no, he has proved himself.

  10. Jacob

    Supertramp did a song about you. ‘Dreamer’. But you’re kidding right? This is a wind up.

    ‘Burrell has proven himself to be a very effective international player, his performances in NZ, good or bad, won’t change that’.

    He’s played a handful in a, to be blunt, 2nd tier comp in a team that came 2nd! You talk him up on this basis? Hah! Reminds me of Ashton. Remember all the hype surrounding him, esp following that wonder try v Oz? But where is he now?

    As I alluded to elsewhere, it’s too little, too soon to say he’s proved much yet.

    Same for that Kiwi in midfield, Tui ; ‘I don’t think Tuilagi’s ability to bust holes in international defences can be doubted’. Another wind up, surely! He still runs sideways! Works here, esp for Leicester, but NZ ain’t Leicester. Interesting to see yr comments after the June series.

    And as for missing players, if SL had had his act together, he could have forseen this issue (excuse) & blooded other players sooner. Besides all teams have injuries, players missing. Sounds like 03 all over when the wheels fell off yr chariot so fast that it must have given you a nose bleed.

    Don’t foget yr hankie.

    Jonglers awaits fun boy.

    1. Sorry Don, I’m going to have to jump in here – head to 2.38 of this vid and tell me Tuilagi hasn’t proved himself on the international stage: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vNX30jzfXEo

      There are very few, if any, other players in world capable of that. That is just one example of many, too.

      As for Burrell, I don’t think it’s getting carried away to say he’s proved himself to be a good international player this Six Nations. He’s been responsible for a lot of England’s good attacking play and rarely at fault when they’ve conceded.

      1. Emphatically agreed. People are suddenly forgetful of Manu’s contributions to England. While I agree that Burrell has been a fine finisher, he’s been on the end of some great play from England, I don’t know if I’d say he’s been a playmaker or too involved in the setup of tries.

        For all the talk of Manu’s lack of passing, that is not what he’s there for. He breaks the gainline with pretty much every carry. When he breaks the gainline, worst case scenario he’s tackled, the opposition are on the back foot and gives England position to move forward, or he gets out an offload and really tears it open. Best case, he breaks 3 tackles and gains England 30m or a try. He also attracts defenders which opens up the game for other players, it’s almost worth having him there as a completely passive influence.

        The problem for Burrell is he’s neither the clever playmaker that 12trees is, nor the destructive ball carrying defence botherer that Manu is. He’s a fine player and I hope England call on him in the future should either of them be injured or out of form.

    2. It is truly incredible that you can write those things in a serious way.

      Nobody is suggesting Burrell is a world class centre to take the English to a different level. But playing very well during the 6 nations absolutely proves he is a good international player.

      I think Jamie’s video more than proves the point on Tuilagi, and in fact, his offload for the Barritt try in the same game wasn’t too shabby either.

      In regards to June being where they get the chance to prove themself, is that a joke? June is a chance for them to test themself against the very best. One win from two tests would be an incredible achievement, and three narrow losses (particularly in the first match), would be deemed acceptable.

      You seem to have this bizarre opinion that you are only good at rugby if you are either an All Black or have beaten that ABs convincingly. Unless of course they were ill… then that doesn’t count either.

  11. Matt

    Yeah, I believe every word you’re saying. Trying to convince yrself, or me?

    6N being ‘more important’ thinking is likely why E are 4th (and another £ pse) esp if they, like you, are inward looking, insular & incestuous within yr own little world of rugger.

    Nuthin’ on the line? Have you heard there is a WC sometime soon? And if you get beat 3 zip it doesn’t matter? Of course not.

    As Martin Johnson said of Healy & Dawson after they’d grassed Henry up in the medya following their Lions’ squad ommisions; ‘They didn’t get it’, just like you. Johnson added that he did, as he’d played in NZ, married 1, so he did understand.

    Some of you NH types just think you do, that’s all. Look at yr 75% loss ratio v NZ. Geddit yet?

    Doubt it, but g’luck in the June series anyway, altho you’ll likey not even watch it will you?

    Yeah right.

    1. Exactly Don, the World Cup! High pressure 6N games are closer to the type of rugby you see in the knock out stages of the world cup. This is probably why NZ have such a poor track record at the world cup in comparison with there performances in between the cups. For this reason I think the Boks are sending you home in the semi finals of the next one, if you get past the French (probably) at the QF stage.

      Last I check the next World Cup wasn’t in New Zealand so don’t think the results this summer have a lot of bearing on it, no home town advantage and late penalties not awarded to the French next time!

      Results this coming Autumn will be far more relevant, and if you whip us by 30 points I’ll be worried about our prospects for the next year.

      In general Don, give this a go. Comment on the views that I post, completely disagree with them, contradict them, state your own point, even come up with a fact or two to substantiate an opinion. Something we do really well on this blog is the ability to have a diametrically opposed view from another person without commenting on, or judging, the person that holds it. It is possible, give it a try!

  12. Jacob

    Read my last comment to Matt. Ditto for you.

    And whart’s ‘bizarre’ of an ‘opinion that you are only good at rugby if you have beaten that ABs convincingly’? Hello! And I never said ‘…are either an All Black or…’, you did.

    Rather yr team WERE ill… then before a game I suppose? FCOL, yr lot are getting in their excuses BEFORE the jUNE series has even begun – regds player availability. And you’ve got the most players in the world. Pots & kettles etc.

    Anyway, dun the Norovirus thing, which you refuse to acknowledge… to yr team’s detriment. Could I have hit the nail on the head & it gnaws at yr wafer thin confidence?

    Again, we’ll see in June just what Burrell, Tui have really got won’t we? Bet you just can’t wait can you? Esp as a pointer to the WC.

    Happy days.

    1. Again, your comments seem to suggest that a player or team has to play well or beat the ABs to prove themself.

      Again, you’ve said we have to wait until Burrell and Tuilagi plays NZ this summer to see how good they are.

      That’s nonsense. Tuilagi for one has already proved himself against the best, I think Dan Carters tweet will prove how he feels about him. As for Burrell,he has proven himself to be a good international player. Nothing more as yet, but he’s played very well against every international put before him.

      Also, this summer tour won’t mean that much come the WC. Let’s remember, the WC is in England, so the relevance of away fixtures in NZ are significantly reduced. A win would be great, but not essential. More importantly, we need to win our AIs this year, at home, against all three SH sides.

  13. Howdy Jamie

    Nice try, but you did allude to yr being a wind up merchant, e.g. player marks out of 10.

    And 1 vid makes a summer of course.

    You can read my comments to Matt & Jake Boor if you like.

    Oh, you already have? Ha, ha.

    Keep that prose rollin’ in.

  14. Jacob

    I’ve already addressed yr opinions. You have yrs, I have mine.

    But we’ll see who has been talking more ‘nonsense’ in summer methinks.

    But pse don’t tell me that if yr team lose 3 zip in NZ that’ll it’ll have no significance for the WC? If you believe that, haeven help you.

  15. Don please take a breath on your later posts, they get harder and harder to make out.

    No one is arguing that the ABs aren’t the best team in the world, which is why no one is expecting anything other than a 3-0 loss for England. The manner of that loss is important, if it’s 3 blow outs, I’d be worried, if it’s 3 good games I’ll be happy enough. As has been said earlier, perhaps more important for England is how we do in the Autumn, the entire autumn series is very important for us, especially as it include the only tier 1 team that this current squad hasn’t beaten.

    A result at Twickenham against the ABs obviously holds more significance than a result in NZ in regards to the RWC, that doesn’t make the tests in NZ insignificant though.

    I’d point out that this England pack took the lead from a 17-3 deficit against NZ last year, and now we have a backline coming together.

  16. Dan Dare

    What specifically is ‘ harder and harder to make out’?

    ‘No one is arguing that the ABs aren’t the best team in the world’. This is NOT my pt. Their record already shows that. I don’t need to pt this out for the sake of it.

    My pt IS that, IMO, some of the/you? English overrate yr team/individuals on the back of relatively little evidence, i.e. 1 NH season & e.g. Burrell. In IYO?/s he’s int’al class already. I question this, not just from my observations of a guy who last yr was a ‘who are ya’?, but also because of the opinions of former E Int’als like Greenwood, Billy Whizz & some other observers like Stuart Barnes. They all seem agreed that yr wingers are starved of early ball. It is a fundamantal flaw! This is what I said yonks ago!

    This is not to say that Burrell is not unskilled, but that he (&/or his other midfield & inside backs i.e. Farrell) push the ball too wide too soon, thus making it easy for a drift ‘D’ to concertina them (& therefore the wingers) into touch. That’s why I have reservations. He’s not a complete player yet. Most do look good when their team is winning, so it’s a premature to claim too much of his all round ability as yet – at tier 1 Int’al level, which is, in the end, the only time that it really matters.

    I compare them with the ABs only as a comparison as a top tier team as 1 I have an interest in for sure, but not as a rod to beat E with. Obviously seems not to come accross in this way tho.

    Saying that (not you) the NZ tour is less important than A 6N game must be in a diff context than the way 1 I’m seeing it; i.e. in terms of a looming WC! As a marker it must be relevent, altho, in fairness, you state a concern about E’s performance there. As you should. If they were to lose 3 nil by 20-30, it would surely not be unimportant in a pre WC yr.

    As for, ‘a result at Twickenham against the ABs obviously holds more significance (eh?) than a result in NZ in regards to the RWC’; well surely a won series down under would be more significant as a marker for said WC!? It’s harder to win away isn’t it? No?

    And you ‘point out that this England pack took the lead from a 17-3 deficit against NZ last year’, but they still lost… at home. Should they not have won then, if they’re as good as pundits make out?

    And I don’t really understand what you mean by ‘and now we have a backline coming together’. What does ‘coming together’ mean exactly? Esp so in light of my prev comments about their going E 2 W. Maybe you mean that they are better than last yr? Well that’s likely, but it’s relative in comarison with the SH back lines… & THAT’S the pt surely?

    Now I’ll take the breath that you recommend.

    1. Don

      No one is saying Burrell is a complete player, we’re just pointing out that we see the potential that he has. And yes playing in a winning team helps of course it does, but he won’t become a bad player over night and suddenly step off the plane in New Zealand and complete forget how to play the game. I think the main area where we differ is that for some reason you class the six nations as a 2nd tier tournament. Which I don’t understand as it is not in anyway. It is bigger (to me anyway) than summer tours and Autumn internationals and second only to the world cup.

      In regards to the summer tour, I myself to do see it as less important that a the six nations, for lots of reasons which we apply in any year. But the main one being this year that the we will have to field an understrength team for the first test. So with that in mind coming back from New Zealand having only lost narrowly (less that 7 points) in all 3 tests would still be fairly encouraging. I mean New Zealand have only lost once since the world cup.

      And yes you’re correct it is hard to win away, put in terms of the next world cup that game at Twickenham and the Autumn series in general is more significant as the world cup is in England! We don’t have to win away. Obviously a win in New Zealand would be massive, but I and most other supports we probably be much happy if the win came at Twickenham rather than win narrowly away from home, only to be beat at home 5 months later.

      As for the point about the back line, yes it does mean that it is better than last year. This England team is still a young team and I don’t mean just by age and the number of caps, but by the amount of time they have played together. It has take longer that any of us would have like to get a settled backline, which is why it has been hugely encouraging this six nations to name the same team for every match bar injuries. Yes the team will probably change before the world cup all teams will be the core players are there.

      Finally I find it weird that you think we are over rating our players, given your, lets be honest arrogant comments about the summer tour, as it is fairly obvious you believe New Zealand are going to thrash us. Which I for one would be very surprised by as we are the only team to beat New Zealand since the world cup and the other time we lost by eight points, with a back line that offered no attacking threat at all really. Now we do have a back line that has an attacking threat, so given that allows us to score tires in theory we should be able to over turn eight points. I’m not say we will because as we all know it isn’t that simple.

      But I wouldn’t be at all surprised if this England team did manage to pull over a result in New Zealand and right now I really hope they do, just so we can get your expect opinion on it.

  17. Dear old Matty

    The same ol’, same ol’ unoriginal dogma. You’re almost almost entirely personal & all this Fench, Boks stuff, it’s becoming a cliche. Eshew the jingoism.

    Read my comments to Dan re NZ’s record if you like, altho with yr mind, it’s likely a waste of time.

    Also it would now be churlish to pt out that NZ have won as many WCs as any one else, 1 more than England & have put yr new best friends, the French, out of 2 WC finals, so I won’t do that… oops I just have! And as for this Boks stuff, ho hum, they were going to do for the ABs at Ellis last yr too weren’t they? And how come they too are suddenly yr friends? Didn’t they knock yr lot off last up? Maybe you should be concentrating in getting past them yrselves rather than worring about NZ?

    As for speculation & opinion, more pots & kettles? Pse be specific rather than gerneral in yr comments, e.g. re-repeating the importance of the NZ & AI results. All speculation surely? They’re both important in pre WC yr, but a potential 3 zip hammering (other E bloggers/ pundits views, not nec mine) in NZ not being important? Of course.

    Additionally, I esp thank you about the advice on how I should act here (Gor blimey, you’re talking down more than Brighty! Is this poss?), but I had a mother once. Funnily enuff, I don’t need a another.

    But yr concern is much appreciated nevertheless.

      1. Yeah, I know. Time for me to stop feeding the troll. I’ll have a debate about rugby with anyone whatever their point of view, but not with someone incapable of making a distinction between a comment on a post and the poster.

  18. Hi all level headed English fans, look on the bright side, over the last few months Don has managed to turn this particular rugby fan into someone who’ll be wearing a red rose in June, belting out God Save The Queen, roaring England on to a hopeful 3-0!

  19. Matt

    What’s happening here between us (I’m not commenting on others at this pt) is that,
    clearly, we disagree on issues like player ratings, importance of Int’als here & in SH etc.

    Equally clearly it’s long become personal.

    Additionally it seems neither of are likely to change our minds regds aforementioned issues.

    Furthermore the personal stuff seems to have become the pt, rather than the issues.

    So, we can continue in the same vein, which I’m sure(?) has become somewhat wearysome for us both, but that seems pointless as it’ll go nowhere, or we can drop the personal & attempt the civil. I was going to say objective as well, but that also seems contentious.

    Anyway, the rugby ball’s in yr 22.

  20. Graeme

    To me it seems that Burrell is being overhyped. He’s, ‘world class’, as I think someone blogged? To me it takes more than a season to prove this… & v other world teams. My view is supported in part by other commentaters regds England’s midfield (of which he is a part) as per my comments to Dan. I saw it as an issue for England under SL for some time & for me 1 which has still not really been addressed. Others disagree of course. I can only speak for myself, but I believe that the SH & NH views of ‘issues’ like this are poles apart.

    I suppose it’s often the media, but also some bloggers, but this seems like boasting to me. Clearly(?) not to you & some others here.

    Regds the 2nd tier bizz, I was stating this as a reflection of the H & Euro countries being ranked 4th & below. Yet people like Dallaglio state, after England’s coming 2nd in the 6N, that the ABs should be worried. SJ of the S TImes opines not dissmilar sentiments etc, etc.

    It’s my belief that the ABs will show England due respect in June & then go out & do their best to annihilate them. Whether they do or not remains to be seen. So I don’t believe that NZ only have to turn up for a forgone… as perhaps you infer from my comments. I will be disappointed if they don’t win all 3 tho.

    All this stuff about the 6N being of more importance than the the AI’s, truly perplexes me. But I’ve also addressed this, again with Dan.

    I actually regret that my opinions may come over as arrogant, as, that is not my intention. In retro, I think many of it comes out of frustration more than anything else.

    Anyway, this must be the 99th time around this track, so here’s hoping the last corner dosesn’t prove to be as muddy as the rest.

    Must be 1/2 time by now?

  21. brighy

    I was going to say ‘ I thought you already were’, but biting my tongue, instead, I invite you to read my last blog to Matt.

    These comments may also hold some resonance for our (er, past?) relationship.

    Yaki dah.

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