Rate the match: England v Scotland

England Rugby

England were punished early on for some wayward kicking, with Scotland’s back 3 getting into the game. For the most part, though, what was a very entertaining game was also rather error-strewn. Scotland looked below par, and England never really had to get out of second gear in the end. England built on the New Zealand win with some glimpses of nice attacking play, but can they continue it throughout the championship?

What were your thoughts on the match? Where do Scotland go from here? Can England build on this and mount a challenge for the championship?

Give the match a score out of 10 and then share your thoughts in the comments below.

Rate the match: England v Scotland

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83 thoughts on “Rate the match: England v Scotland

  1. If England show that level of clinicalness, against the other teams, we have little hope of winning the championship. Too much fancy work at times, especially in the second half. I understand the game had already been won but surely a bit more composure would be better?

    Could have been far more than 20 points.

    Even so, great team performance and the players who were criticised for being a bit too one-dimensional (Farrell, Brown, B. Youngs, Barritt) have dispelled those notions, I feel.

  2. Great ambition shown by England today. Need to execute a little bit more precisely in order to maximise on all the opportunities created and lower the error count.
    Scotland showed guts and determination and the odd flash of flair, but were outplayed.
    Great game to watch

  3. Great game

    high quality game, The offloading game of England was massive, their forward power supreme. Scotland played well and can look forward to a better 6N, they seem to have a back three that will take chances if they can get through some phases, whata turn around from the team with loads of ohases and no cutting edge.

    Twelvetrees played really well, showed distribution skills but moxt of all his ball presentation was great, everytime he went down the ball came quuickly. When Tuillagi comes back, Twelvetrees runs to the gainline and manu takes the pop pass, that could be a hell of a midfield, barrit comes on to close games off.

    but the England forwards were great robshaw always there for coninuety, likea a great 7 should, there seems to be a strong bench.

    Ireland v England what a game that will be.

    1. Agreed – and Trinder and Joseph are developing well – the midfield might actually be genuinely interesting (I still remember the appalling midfield of Noon and Tindall that Robinson picked one match, all muscle and no subtlety)

  4. Thought Robshaw was immense today, Mr Gatland.

    Kicking of the back three and some of the decision making was a bit poor I thought. Goode was rusty and Brown was hot and cold.

    I’m really sorry to be saying this, but does anyone else think that Haskell is slowly putting himself in contention for a Lions spot.

    Even more so now – in SL I trust!

      1. agree that morgan had a good game, shame he had to leave the field as early as he did. however haskell did come on and look good.

        on the thought of him as a lion, i do not think that this is too far fetched of an idea, based on a few facts.
        1- he covers the entire backrow, therefore is a useful option on tour.
        2- he is a bit of a joker, and by all accounts his banter is something that allows him to bond with people quite quickly. this can make him a good tourist. in 09 O’Callaghan was given his lions spot on the fact that he was a good tourist, even though there were better locks left behind.
        3- he is a good tourist – having done his little “round the world” rugby trip, you know that haskell can emerse himself in different cultures, as well as not get home sick. i know that this seems silly, but having watched a lions special, apparently this can be an issue. players now are not used to 7-8 week tours, so you need to pick a few guys who are used to being away from home and their families.

  5. Great entertainment. Yes Eng need to be more clinical but for a first game very happy. Probably the best Calcutta match for a long time, thank you Scotland for your ambition. Thought Goode was poor, looked slow and indecisive. Foden would have had a field day today, we missed his counter attacking. Dilemma tho. I am purring ay the thought of 36 and Tuilagi in Tue centres, but can either of them Marshall the defence like Barritt?

    1. agree that goode looked ponderous. in fact, something i did not spot in the autumn, but i feel he uses his fancy footwork to mask a lack of pace, and scotland where not having any of it, they just got in his face and hit him. i think foden may have a decent chance at getting back in next week. i would shift brown back to 15, although he did not have his best game in a white shirt either…

      must also say that i was impressed with Farrell. the fact that he was even chasing his own and others’ kicks does show that he is passionate about playing for england, and he loves making hits. he seems to have added a bit to his game as well, i thought the passing was a nice addition, and his kicking from hand was improved too.

      i think 12Ts was fantastic. he should definitely give them a selection headache next week. i would love to see 12Ts and Manu in the midfield. they have done it for the tigers, i am sure that with a whole weeks preparation they can work out who can run the defence.

  6. Based on the first games

    Cole, Best, Healy
    Any 2 from Eng and Ire
    7 Robshaw
    8 Morgan/Faletau/Beattie/Haskell
    6 o’Mahony/Wood
    BoD, Davies

    1. Thought Davies played really poorly today and think O’Briens performance definitely merits inclusion.

      1. agreed with you Jcahill1.

        i think a fair few welshman played themselves out of spots yesterday. especially davies. BOD was outstanding, so were Zebo and Best (who is now my first choice lions hooker).

        halfpenny was, once again, good in a poor side. he can hold his head high. i think he did enough vs kearney to keep the 15 shirt for now.

  7. I think Goode looked like he lacked match fitness today. 36 and Barritt worked well in the centres, and it was nice to see Farrell closer to the gain line and attacking it. And to anyone who said he can’t pass, just watch the pass to Parling for his try. Farrell had to make sure it had the distance, but also that it wouldn’t get intercepted. I thought him and Youngs played very well together today. Back row were outstanding today, and put the Scots under real pressure at the breakdown.

    And dare I say it, I was pleasantly surprised with Allain Rolland today. He let the game flow when it needed to, and didn’t get really picky at the breakdown or with the scrums.

    1. Agree, agree, agree. Before the game, was no fan of Youngs or Farrell… my opinion of each has improved greatly due to this game! Both were fantastic.

    2. I like Goode, but if 13.5 stone Hogg runs over you like he is Lomu you aren’t physical enough to play international fullback. With 10 and 12 doing a much better distribution job today the role to make up for lack of distribution from 10 and 12 didn’t exist. He seems to have all the skills to be a brilliant FH, there has to be a place for someone with that good a rugby brain, but I don’t think it is fullback.

      1. i think you might be right matt. also he seems to not be fast enough either.

        i definitely agree that with 12Ts there, and farrell passing so well, goode seemed to not have any real role, he was quite anonymous in all honesty. i think foden and brown have to be the 2 first choice fullbacks (and foden should play 11), and 12Ts needs to continue at centre. but i would then struggle with the two bench options, as i dont think that flood and goode should be on together, it should be one of them with either JJ or Barritt (assuming that 12Ts and manu pair up)

        1. Goode has just come back from a short term injury, so that may have had some bearing on his performance, and why I was surprised that he played and Foden was sent back to Saints.

  8. I thought England played well but Scott Johnson was on the money when he said theat Scotland allowed them to by not controlling the breakdown. Scotlands best moments came when they pressurised England in that area and England looked far less assurred under those circumstances. As numerous commentators have said fast ball allows England to play and this is the area England must try to improve even further. There was some dodgy decision making at times players isolated in their own half trying to run the ball back when prudence dictated kicking. Yes risks have to be taken but calculated risks are preferred. Billy Twelvetrees had an outstanding debut he carried, tackled, offloaded and took his try well. Launchbury again proved his selection hasn’t been a mistake. Overall a good performance against a Scotland side that came to play and are deserving of respect.

    1. i like that 12Ts seemed to be used as the battering ram of the two centres, but then he was also used to pass as well. he just seems like the perfect centre partner for manu. manu will attract defenders, creating space for 12Ts (who showed some good pace for england) and if they focus on 12Ts, then manu just has to pop up on his shoulder. with the likes of Foden, Ashton and Brown all floating around, tries should come thick and fast!

  9. What I liked was that so many of our players were coming from deep and hitting the line at speed and our work at the breakdown is very good these days. All the England players looked comfortable on the ball.

    It was an enthralling rugby match and Scotland contributed to the entertainment. I thought Robshaw, Wood and Morgan worked well together.

    Looking forward to the Ireland match.

  10. A pretty good display by England today, although it lacked a killer edge. Thought 12 trees had a good debut, and that our back row was excellent. I am looking forward to having Manu back, we could have used more penetration today, and I reckon that a partnership of Manu and 12trees could be pretty damn good.

    Thought goode had a bit of an off game, and Brown had, as previously said a mixed game, although he gained the most meters on the pitch by some distance, the stat popped up during the match. Both of the Scottish tries game from mistakes from these players, whether it was wayward kicking or missed tackles. I think I want Foden back in for Goode, not really sure what to do with Brown.

    Farrel had a great game, he kicked well, as we have come to expect, and that pass to parling was about as good as a pass can be, really suberb.

    The decision between Youngs and Care is a difficult one to make, both were good.

    The Scotland team definetly has some Class players, who have put their hands up for Lions selection, but they seemed a bit overwhelmed by the English forwards who seemed stronger for the whole match

  11. England really need a good scrum half. Youngs is dreadful at the basics. His pass is slow, but worse of all he seems to be addicted to vane glorious kicking, and almost invariably gives away possession and puts his side under pressure. Unfortunately Danny Care is no alternative and suffers from the same deficiencies. He has the added bad habit of skipping sideways from the set piece with the ball (as the opposition close in) until he’s sure there isn’t a break on, and then delivering a complete hospital pass to the unfortunate outside of himself.

    1. I have to say, I’m surprised. Before the game, I was no fan of Youngs, but I thought he did extremely well in the circumstances today. Youngs gave far quicker ball than he normally does (and infinitely quicker than Mike Phillips did for Wales!) and Care was brilliant as well, his running away from the set piece creating holes rather than closing them off.

      Admittedly, though, neither was the best Scrum Half on the pitch: Laidlaw for Scotland did extremely well.

    2. Really??? I thought Youngs mixed his game up quite well today, whipped the ball away from the ruck with no crabbing on occasions, took the ball to the line well before picking pretty good passes, kicking was OK and made a searing break.

    3. I completely disagree with you. England have the luxury of two brilliant scrum halfs. In fact, I think they will be the two fighting it out for the Lions 9 shirt.

      This idea that crabbing slightly by both 9s is some sort of negative just tells me that you have never played that position before.

      I play scrum half and it is something that any good coach would encourage. It is a brilliant way of drawing some opposition defenders attention for split seconds, and sometimes that is all you need to put someone in a hole.

      It is also a very difficult skill because if you do not do it well; you get smashed and look like an idiot.

      Either way, both of Englands 9s are excellent players, and can easily slot into any international set up; and we are lucky to have the two of them to pick between.

  12. Pretty good from England. I had predicted a closer scoreline of England by 7 because I still think we lack clinicalism and because the scotland games have been close affairs the last few years. Yet again the boys up front deliver a platform to work quick fast ball into the space to get mismatchs but I agree with another poster earlier that Youngs has this horrible 2 or 3 side step before passing. It just gives defences more ease in setting their hits. Great break by Youngs though and I recall he had a similar one against the ABs so for me ( aside from inconsistent and aimless box kicks) I’d still start with him against the Irish. Just hope he behaves himself and doesn’t let the occasion get to him like two years ago!

  13. So many positives and very few negatives, really pleased to see us play with ambition and intensity from the start. I feared a cagey kickfest. Rolland did not detract from the spectacle either. Only reason I couldn’t give the game more than an 8 is because of the game that preceded it.

    Ireland were brilliant (almost All Black like) at converting their opportunities to points, England were brilliant at creating lots of opportunities but not as clinical in taking them. What a match up next week.

  14. Today showed that Goode is not an international full back and that Strettle should not involved.

    Well done to England but the next game should have a Foden, Ashton and Brown back row

  15. Team v Ireland

    Marler, Hartley, Cole
    Parling, Launchbury
    Robshaw, Wood, Haskell
    36, Barritt
    ??? SL will play Brown

    I prefer Haskell as an impact sub, but he’s probably earned the spot with Morgan out. Not convinced by playing two 12’s but not convinced that there are any alternatives. Left wing remains a problem and Brown isn’t the answer, but once again can’t see any alternatives at the moment. Youngs, Youngs and Goode to the bench.

    1. I think Foden adapted better to wing than Brown, so I would play Brown at FB and Foden on wing.

      Barritt had a decent game, but I would go for 36 and tuilagi if he is fit.

      I think your back row is exactly what we need against Ireland, we need to be equipped for the close quarter combat, not have players isolated and being held up in the tackle.

    2. Care? His blind alley run that led to the second Scotland try was never on he needed to closer as when he scored the try late on. Is Morgan definitely out? That would be a real shame.

  16. What impressed me about this game was that you could see catts mark on England I.e players doing things that they wouldn’t normally be doing, farrell doing a trademark sbw around the tackler offload being one of them

    1. that offload was so good that i had to pause, rewind and check it actually was Farrell!

      his pass out to parling was top draw as well, i think he showed some of the skills that he used playing rugby league as a youngster. his passing was good, and i liked that he played a bit flatter (could still take the ball going forward a bit more though). i think the addition of 12Ts, who wanted to attack and get moving forward, was a factor in getting farrell to stand a bit flatter.

  17. It’s very difficult to predict how things will shape up for the Ireland England game. It was 30-3 to Ireland just after the break, so either Ireland demolished both Argentina and Wales or they were both off-par. The truth as ever is somewhere in between. Scotland still seem frail but England are obviously looking good too. Might just come down to who shows up on the day..

  18. Decent performance by England against a sprited Scottish team johnsons made a mark already but going to Dublin to play Ireland is an entirely different scenario defence needs to be rock solid and start with Farrell at 10 12trees at 12 and tuilagi at 13

  19. Depending on injuries, hoping this will be our team to play Ireland

    1. Marler
    2. T.Youngs
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. B.Youngs
    10. Farrell
    11. Brown
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Barritt
    14. Ashton
    15. Foden

    16. Hartley
    17. M.Vunipula
    18. Wilson
    19. Lawes
    20. Haskell
    21. Care
    22. Burns
    23. Tuilagi

  20. That’s the same starting line up as yesterday though. If Tuilagi is fit, he has to start. Truly world class, and if he is on song I don’t think anyone in the world can stop him.

    Really like the back row at the moment. Morgan again has to start if fit. I think Foden in as FB, Brown to stay put. Strettle to go out of the match day squad, with Joseph replacing him.

    Twelvetrees or Barritt…tough call.Totally different players, but I think Lancaster will stick with Barritt and Tuilagi, for now at least.

    Also, Hartley in for Youngs.

    Great game though!

  21. I do feel we need a proper speedster on the wing I stead of a converted full back.

    Foden, Brown or Goode – all good at FB for me, each have different skills. Still think Armitage is the best fullback out there we could pick but that’s never going to happen.

    1. I would have Goode, Brown or Foden anyday instead of Armitage. He’s had too many chances in an England shirt, and although he’s played well at times, he’s proved he’s a liability in the penalty and discipline department.

      1. Agree Dazza – he can do some brilliant things and some downright poor ones. For me a FB has to be consistent. You don’t want to always be worrying about your last line of defence.

        1. I know he has his foibles, but I don’t think that on his day there’s a better option.

          Would like to see Brown get a run.

  22. I think Goode showed his frailties this time round. With Twelvetrees providing the playmaker foil for Farrell, who also showed some lovely touches – that pass out to Parling was beautiful!), we don’t need Goode as an alternative playmaker. So I would bring Foden back in now he’s got some more game time, Tuilagi back in for Barritt if he’s fit, and leave the rest well alone. Just hope Morgan’s injury isn’t too bad!

    1. I think if Tuilagi starts it’s got to be for 36. Barritt is the organiser in the defensive line. If you take that away against the Irish team that beat Wales, you could be in trouble. Leave Barritt in, but play Tuilagi at 12? Now that could be interesting. Then Barritt is left to mark O’Driscoll, and he’s the best person to do it for England.

  23. I too want to see a 12T’s and Tuilagi centre partnership, but not against Ireland. O’Driscoll is still an amazing player and we’ll need the defensive organisation that Barritt brings to the game to shut that ‘door’. With 12T’s and Barritt we appear to have a partnership that works well togther – both in attack and defense. Tuilagi on the bench to come on in the last 25 mins and cause havoc for a more tired Irish defense.
    My team is slightly harsh on Goode, who, apart from a poor game against Scotland has been quite impressive – but i think Foden offers slightly more in attack than Goode, hence the switch.
    If Morgan is injured, I’d be tempted to start Haskell and B.Vunipula on the bench.

    1. Thought Goode looked rather limited at fullback – on occasion he seemed to be running through water, especially compared to Hogg

      Time for Brown to be put into his best position – we will need his defence and reliability under the high ball against Ireland. Plus he is a better counter-attacker than Goode

      Foden should start on the wing – he’s as good or slightly better than Brown there and Goode should be on the bench as he can cover a number of positions.

      1. i think that brown is a must at 15 against ireland. foden’s pace will be required to deal with the irish wingers, so he should play 11.

        brown, who seems to be the most accomplished englishman under the highball will be needed at 15 to claim them. it seemed to be a tactic the irish used with sexton putting up a bomb and kearney chasing and competing for it.

        i think that 12Ts should be given another shot at 12, because i think that this will accomodate the move of brown to 15, by keeping a 2nd passer in the backline. i feel that manu should start at 13. i know barritt has done well, and doesnt deserve to be dropped, but i think that manu will cause more issues.

        with D’Arcy seeming to be injured, and earls looked to pick up a knock, the irish will be on essentially a 3rd choice 12, to have 12Ts and Manu running at that channel will cause issues all day long.

        1. Barritt is THE organiser in the back line and he wont be dropped. hes vitally important.

          manu will start with 12t on the bench.

          1. i understand all these comments about barritt being the defensive organiser, but 12Ts and Manu spent plenty of time together at tigers, and for the saxons. the will be able to defend together.

            i am sure that barritt WILL start, but what i THINK should happen is that 12Ts and Manu should start, as i feel that they offer a lot more as a combination, and i also feel that they will be more than capable in defence.

          2. When he was out injured in the summer our defence didn’t seem to fall apart, and that was with Flood 10, Manu 12 and JJ 13.

            A Farrell@10, 36@12 and Manu@13 combo doesn’t strike me as defensively suspect. Haskell for Morgan also improves the defences. I think this is the lineup that the Irish would be most concerned about facing so is the one I would pick!

          3. Matt – we didnt win a game in the summer. Barritt is a vital cog and against BOd, i would not be starting a rookie – 12t and manu, who is a tank but needs someone telling him what to do.

          4. He played the first game. I didn’t think we suffered defensively in the second and third games without him. I’m not doubting his ability to defend, I just think a 36 + Manu combo offers much more attacking threat. We could even have Farrell defend at 12 and do the defensive organisational role.

            Anyway I’m glad we are having a selection dilemma at centre between 3 players who’s most recent international performance have all been excellent. Not a headache we’ve had for a while.

    2. Agreed, if Morgan is out, then Haskell has to start. Big Billy on the bench is a mouthwatering thought, and should be in there ahead of Waldrom.

      1. i agree that big billy is a nice thought! i would have kvesic in over waldrom. christ i would have my nan in over waldrom!

        1. just had another watch of the england game. Morgan got injured and hobbled around for another 2 minutes making tackles and trying to chase kicks! credit to the lad, he is made of hard stuff and is clearly passionate about playing for england. real shame that he is injured, i really hope the prognosis is good and he isnt out for long!

    1. Well with Goode and Twelvetrees in the 23 there is an argument for having neither Flood nor Burns in the match day squad, and perhaps bringing Foden plus one of Tuilagi/Barritt/Twelvetrees on to the bench.

    2. I am having a good gloat about that! Farrell showed his class again.

      my only comments would be that Goode was weak in defence and its going to catch us out at some point.

      replacing Morgan is a big concern. haskell was playing blind side and Wood no 8 when morgan went off.

      we will miss morgans go forward, anyone know whats wring with him?

      1. just an ankle sprain, SL said it didnt seem too serious. they will make an assessment in the week.

        i dont understand why they dont play haskell at 8 (when he comes on). i think out of all 3 he is the best suited to 8 (compared to wood and robshaw). having said this, as long as wood continues doing well, then i dont have any complaints.

        although i think morgan would be a loss, i think haskell did pretty well when he was on, and i dont think england would lose too much if they did have to start haskell. having said this, the question of who to put to the bench comes up, and that is where is see more potential for feeling the loss of morgan (if he is indeed out)

  24. I’m still not convinced by Haskell. Sure he’s big and pretty quick, but he’s also too focussed on putting in the big hits to the point of missing them and a liability in terms of discipline. He only conceded one on Saturday, but I saw a couple of others that should’ve gone.

    Tom Waldrom on the other hand is the logical replacement. Aside from actually being a number 8 (I still never see Haskell as an 8, his work at the base of the scrum doesn’t exist) his rugby brain is generally a lot more engaged too.

    1. sorry, have to disagree, I didn’t see Morgan coming up with two turnovers and he is conspicuous by his absence when some defence is required.

      1. Even if Morgan was fit I could see an argument for starting Haskell specifically to deal with the inevitable arm wrestle of the choke tackles. If Billy is fit then I hope he gets the bench spot.

        I hope they are reinforcing the bench at the Aviva if he does as 260kg of Vunipolas are going to be sitting on it.

          1. I thought he was confirmed out for the first weekend only, yet to hear if he is declared fit or otherwise for this week.

  25. If Morgan is out then Billy vunipola has to start no matter how how old he is. Becasue he is clearly a better 8 than Haskell because week in week out he is put there and Hasskell is shifted some where else in the back row. Plus he is a lot better than Waldrom

  26. Not sure where all this “Waldrom is rubbish” is coming from. In South Africa, he was clearly the best 8 and in the AIs, I thought he handled himself very well. James Haskell simply isn’t an 8. I like Billy Vunipola, but he’s as much a liability as Haskell in terms of penalties.

    Ben Morgan is good, I do think he looks good with a head of steam, carrying ball, but he is a little frail in defence.

    Waldrom had brilliant stats last season for Leicester as a ball carrier, try scorer and defender. He’s carried that game over for Leicester this season too. Good temprament, good offloads, and the fact that he’s actually a number 8 (as well as cover 6 and 7) surely puts him in at least the 2nd berth for England.

    1. how is haskell not an 8? that is a genuine question (i am not benig sarcastic or anything), as i would like to hear your thinking behind why he is not an 8.

      1. I genuinely would like anyone to have a go at why Haskell “simply isn’t an 8″…

        A comment like that cannot be made as such a throw away and not backed up without at least an opinion as to why that is the view.

        1. He played 8 in the world cup and doesn’t have the control at the base of the scrum. Also doesn’t carry like the best 8s.

          1. Which is why no-one plays him at 8 any more.

            He was touted as Dallaglio’s successor for both Wasps and England, but never shone at 8

            A good blind-side flanker but not an 8

          2. he doesnt carry like an 8?

            because sergio parisse, louis picamoles, ben morgan and toby faletau all carry in exactly the same style?

          3. I needed to pick a better work than style, he doesn’t carry with the same efficacy of the best 8s. He is a strength athlete, great round the tackle area. The best ball carrying 8s are power athletes. Here are the number or carries and metres made for the 8s you mention and Haskell for the weekend.

            Morgan 7 48
            Faletau 19 66
            Parisse 11 84
            Picamoles 10 52
            Haskell 6 4

            Haskell is not an explosive ball carrying athlete who can bust the defensive wall like the others. I don’t think he as the pace of the top 8s either.

  27. oh how happy i am that you brought up dallaglio! a man who, when origianlly picked at 8 for england, raised many eyebrows with comments along the line of “he isnt an 8″… a man who went on to be one of the best number 8s that rugby union has ever seen!

    what was the difference between haskell and dallaglio? time.

    haskell spent his time behind Lol at wasps, not getting time at 8. then he left to paris after missing out on the wasps captaincy once dallaglio had retired, where he played 6 because playing at 8 was a guy by the name of Sergio Parisse (see italy vs france for credentials) he then did a stink in japan, and at the highlanders ended up playing 7, because Colin Bourke and Adam Thompson were in the 8 and 6 shirts.

    now he is back at wasps, and billy v and johnson play with him in the backrow. 2 men who are bigger than haskell (no mean feat on their parts!)

    the plain fact of the matter is that haskell is only “not an 8” based on the fact that his control at the base is maybe not deemed to be the highest quality, but that is a skill that comes with time and practice!

    and one final point on the number 8 matter for england. haskell is not an 8, and yet is tom wood? because by the sounds of things that is who will play 8 in the absence of morgan…

    1. You’ve just named every team that Haskell has played for and pointed out how none of them played him at 8 because each of them had better players than him in that position, including some non-internationals.

      And yet you want him playing at 8 for England. Interesting…

      Do I agree with Wood playing there? Not sure yet, we’ll see, but I’d rather have him than Haskell

      I’d have the following at 8 before Haskell


      (in no particular order)

      and probably some others I’ve forgotten

      Haskell is a very good blindside flanker though

      1. i have named every team he played for, and 2 men who are going to go down as 2 of the best number 8’s in history. Colin Bourke at the time was also being touted as a potential all black… the point i was making, which you clearly decided to gloss over, is that he has to have TIME at 8 to get a bit more comfortable there.

        at no point have i not said that haskell is a good 6, and in fact he is probably a better 6 than he is an 8. HOWEVER, i feel that he is a better option at 8 than plenty of players, especially half of those on the list you have put.

        tom wood has never played 8 for saints, and even in his days at worcester he was used as a 6. haskell on the other hand has been used at 8 more often than wood (who only seems to have filled in there)

        in my eyes haskell should be the 3rd choice 8 in england. Morgan and Billy V are more suited to the position, and as i say, i do feel haskell is a better 6. but to simply dismiss him as an 8 is ludicrous. about 2 months back (before the nz game) everyone was saying “robshaw isnt a 7, farrell isnt a 10” i even read somewhere saying that tim wood isnt a 6… now that all seems to have subsided… why? because they were given an chance and a string of games there.

        the most important aspect of a backrow is not about having a 7,6 and an 8. it is about striking the correct balance between the skills and attributes that all 3 players bring to the backrow. hence why england are doing well at the moment, because although robshaw may be more of a 6 1/2 than a full 7, wood is similar, and they compliment each other. In the Dallaglio, Back, Hill days, none of them was an out and out 8, but they worked perfectly together, and they all developed their games when given time together.

        the point that i am trying to make is (and please dont gloss over it this time) that give time, haskell could be an outstanding 8. but to look at him now and simply say “he is not an 8” because he doesnt get much time there is silly. he has all the attributed required to be an 8, he simply has to get some game time there.

        1. interesting also that my point with the most weight behind it (the dallaglio case study as i shall call it) was completely ignored in your response…

          1. I don’t remember Dallaglio being considered anything other than an 8. I think he was the proto-8 for the modern ball carrying power athletes we see as 8s, replacing the ‘traditional’ Dean Richards type English 8s.

          2. when dallaglio was first selected at 8 for england people did not think it was right, as he had previously played the majority of his rugby at either 6 or 7. people said that he was not an 8.

            it was covered on a documentary on him, i also believe it may have been mentioned in his book.

        2. Ireland also have a 6 playing at 8 :-)

          Ordinarily with Morgan out I would want, from the EPS, Waldrom or Vunipola in with Haskell on the bench. Ireland are however extremely difficult to get quick ball from in the tackle area and excellent at turning ball over. Haskell, Wood and Robshaw is an excellent backrow to combat that threat, but none of them is going to carry like Parisse, Picamoles, Morgan, etc because they aren’t the same type of athlete. Wood is the most dynamic of the 3, e.g. the only one of those 3 who can really go from the back of the scrum so I think he is the best option provided he has the control.

          1. i will start by responding to your post above.

            1- haskell came off the bench, therefore those figures are skewed anyway.
            2- haskell was brought on to play 6, with wood shifting to 8 (the whole basis for this debate in the first place) therefore you cannot use those figures as the basis of “is he a good 8 or not”

            I assume you are referring to Heaslip as the 6 at 8 for ireland. this is the same Heaslip who was selected at 8 for the lions? correct?

            there are different types of 8s. Spies, Morgan, Parisse, Lobbe, Read, Vermulen, Faletau and Picamole are all different types of players. each have similarities and differences.

            regarding haskell not being dynamic enough. i will refer you to two occasions.
            1- england vs wales world cup warm up 2011. haskell’s try from the base of the scrum. explosive finish. (albiet off a nicely turned scrum)
            2- 2007 Heineken Cup final. Haskell on as a replacement at 8. breaks off the back of the scrum (5m off his own line) to run 90m upfield, only just getting pulled down by a chasing tigers winger.

            i shall leave you with one final point on my part. again this is backing up my point that haskell needs time to play at 8 before he can claim to be the finished article.

          2. You would expect his carrying stats to be skewed, as a replacement coming on when the opposition is tired you expect to have more of an impact from your carries. What I’m really looking at in terms of efficacy is the average distance per carry.

            He didn’t come on and say “I’ve got to carry like a 6 today, so I must only make 0.66m per carry, rather carry like a good 8 and make 5m per carry”. The point is his ability to carry isn’t up there with the best in the business.

            The question isn’t “can he play 8?” The question is “Is he the best person in the country to play 8?” He can do a job at 8, but he’s not the best player in the country. He is a great athlete, really strong round the tackle area, fantastic work rate, best position 6 by far.

  28. no matt, the question ISNT “is he the best person to play 8 in the country” i have already conceded that the is not. i said that he would be most likely my 3rd choice 8. i also said that he is a better 6 than 8 (primarily because he does not get time at 8)

    people have said “haskell is not an 8” therefore suggesting that he cannot play 8. you seem to literally have got the complete wrong end of what i have been saying. many people have said he CANNOT do a job at 8, and i have said that he CAN. you are arguing that he can do a job at 8, but isnt the best on offer… do you see that this is the same point i am making?

    the job of a 6 and the job of an 8 are very different. These are the two positions in which i spent a fair bit of my time playing rugby, and i can tell you they are different roles. under think new regime haskell seems more keen to hit rucks and make tackles than to have ball in hand, which is different to how he used to play.

    again i will bring up the point of balance being the important part of a backrow. the reasons that ireland can play healsip (who you called a 6) at 8 is because they have two men at flanker (Ferris and O’Brien) who spend a fair amount of time carrying the ball, therefore heaslip will have few carries.

    in this situation, haskell is the ideal man to play 8 for england when you have a guy like croft at 6. so haskell can hit rucks and do some of the dirty work to allow for croft to run out in the backs.

    so to try and make my points as clearly and simply as possible:

    1 – haskell is a better 6 than he is 8.
    2 – bust haskell can still do a job at 8.
    3 – backrows are about balance, not just who is the most like a stereotype.
    4 – given a chance to play more at 8, haskell could be a very good number 8.

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