47 thoughts on “Rate the match: France 26 v 24 England

      1. I don’t understand. That was a thrilling, magic match. That’s why I summed it up as such. Obviously I’m happier with the result then you lot as I’d rather England lost points because we have France at home.

        Any mor detail and I’d be at odds with the rest of the sentiment on here and much like when Wales lose I wouldn’t be happy with other fans telling me where we went wrong so not worth saying anything here but as you seem to want to contrast this with the Wales match I would say I’m happier with a win from a bore fest than a loss from an exciting game.

        1. Apologies, I thought you were saying that it was magic that England lost, not that the game was magic. I thought it was unlike you to go trolling. Maybe should have considered the other options first! I stand corrected.

        2. Also if you read my comments on the Wales match, I stated a win was a win, although England seem to get castigated for winning ugly or losing, so we haven’t got much hope unless we win majestically, against top quality opposition who aren’t I’ll, playing out of season, etc!

        3. Staggy, I have an email of your response but its not appearing here – I will reply here anyway.

          I know what you mean about English wins not being feted but I don’t think that will ever change – the opposing sides will always try and find fault with a win. You don’t hold back with the “Warrenball” comments yourself and I don’t see that as compliment? :-) Wales have been criticised more the more we win – our wins are increasingly based on grinding, fitness, bosh, etc. As someone who was on the other side for most of the last 20 years (I had to call England boring because what else could I say when they’d just had their third Slam?) I can agree that winning dirges by 3 points is always preferable to losing epics by 1 point. I was there when Wales took SA to a 1 point loss and NZ to a 2 point loss in 06 (I think, could have been 05). Epic matches, I’d have traded every glorious moment in them for a grubby win.

          Anyway, England match was excellent. Billy v Taulupe will be an epic matchup. Burrel has an eye for the line. I need to see more of Nowell. 12Ts is not, for me, the answer to the creativity question. Goode is hapless, I’m sorry but for me he’s just not up to it at this level, in defence or attack. Brown’s turned into one of those players who is more than the sum of his parts, commitment goes a long way. France looked knackered after 30 mins, fitness a real issue for them I think. Picamoles is an extraordinary player. Brilliant match and I think the best result for Ireland/Wales. Next weekend at the Aviva will now be a defining match for the title I think.

          1. To be fair – difficult to argue with anything you’ve said. Billy v Fale though is an interesting one. Slightly different players in my book. Billy is very good going forward and he tackled well against France, but Fale is master at the all round game and better at breakdown work.

            You’ll also be pleased to know that I thought Lydiate played better yesterday. Finally justifying selection again after being out of sorts and off the pace last year.

            And for all the Warrenball comments, I still think Wales have probably the most talented back 4 in the world. Gatland doesn’t always make the most of them though in my opinion.

          2. Is this the best result? The championship is out of our hands now until or unless someone beats France. Our only goal now should be the triple crown. 2 legs at home, albeit against the toughest opponents!

  1. The match was a thriller, but the result so disappointing. The English forwards were brilliant for most of the match but a cold chill went through me when Fickou came on. I was right to be fearful, Damn!

    1. We definitely have one of the meanest packs in world rugby. Thought 1-8 were immense. Plaudits to billy v and wood and robshaw

  2. Lancaster needs to seriously sort his bench policy out. We had no ten cover, and no game changers. We had faz out the game with cramp and the frustratingly pragmatic Barritt, Dickson and Goode as our back line cover. We brought on steady and dependable and the French brought on some nitro in Gael fickou. Wonderfully finished, wasn’t flustered or fazed about having to win the game for the French. Can’t help but feel England could have closed it out and even turned the screw by having at least ford, Watson or eastmond on the bench. Lancaster likes to close games out rather than going for the kill. It’s why we will never find out if Henry Thomas can cut the mustard at international level, Lancaster perseveres with keeping a totally spent Dan Cole on the field. Such an exciting game with a disappointing ending, fully expected England to kick on and find something. Great roots put in, but time is running out and we have given Lancaster all the time and patience in the world to sort some partnerships that play well with others. Frustrated from the expectation, building is not a good enough excuse. Lancasters priorities are surely defence first and score tries after. The French just proved that does work.

  3. I absolutely agree with james, how frustrating that the game was there to take but the bench was so I’ll prepared to do it. Why were we playing last 15 mins with a 10 who couldn’t run and a 12 on the wing? Cole was totally gone but not replaced with Thomas twiddling thumbs on bench? I just don’t get lancasters selections to be honest why was the bench set up like that?

    I honestly want to see Lancaster be questioned about his selections as I think he cost england the game with his choices.

    1. completely agree with regards to substitutions. I thought taking Care off when, in my opinion, he was having a cracking game (kicking aside which was dreadful). Taking off Nowell for Barritt was also a mistake as it lead to players out of position all over the shop. Can’t say I’m surprised though as Lancaster limited himself pre-game by picking a backs bench that could only cover scrum half, centre’s and full back. As a result as soon as May got injured we were backed into a corner tactics wise.

      1. Nowell was injured, not really something that Lancaster can help.

        We had 2 wingers out injured people, no normal bench in the world can cover for 2 injured wingers.

  4. Lancaster what we’re you thinking?
    To have such a poorly thought out bench was one thing, to use it the way he did was so much worse. Why bring off a relatively fresh winger who was having a very positive debut for a centre, resulting in a 12 playing on the wrong who was out of position for the winning try? You can’t expect to win international rugby playing people out of position. To finish the game with a back line consisting of three centres and two fullback is almost comical. Alex Goode was very poor I thought and his selection on the bench was very short sighted. Also can’t help but think that Lancaster had already decided before the game what subs he is going to make and when. To leave 12 trees on after the number of mistakes he made was a wrong decision for me. Tom young, although a lovely ball carrier who made a lot of metres is poor in the scrum and can’t throw in, so unfortunately he can’t be out replacement.

    That said for me there were a lot of positives. Billy v was immense, by far the best player going. Launch and court were huge. Farrell had a good game and showed he can get a back line moving. Burrel and nowell were both promising. Atwood, m v and Morgan all made good impacts.

    Lancaster I’m afraid you bottled.

  5. Ratings

    Brown – 7
    May – n/a one nice break and then injured
    Burrell – 7
    12trees – 5
    Howell – 7
    Farrell – 8
    Care – 7
    Billy – 9
    Robshaw – 6
    Wood – 7
    Launch – 8
    Court – 9
    Cole – 6
    Hartley – 7
    Marler- 6

    Goode – 4

  6. Although I agree Nowell grew into his debut I thought he cost us points in first half, young man and understandable nerves which is why shouldn’t have made Debut away in Paris. Ashton should have played IMO. I have been pondering and still don’t understand lancaster selections, it may sound harsh but I think his pe teacher roots are showing – good people manager but not astute enough at high level.

  7. Excellent come back but just too many errors in the opening 30 and closing 10 (bit like against NZ). Missed tackles and passes, knock ons and turnovers should have been kept to an absolute minimum, but weren’t due to a rampant Nyanga.
    Bench strategy was also way off, almost as confusing as the French bench in the last le Crunch.
    Also a few preexisting problems still nagging; Cole still has no answer to Domingo.
    Youngs still can’t throw into a lineout not run by Geoff Parling.
    Care’s boxkicking is still aimless and needlessly risky (extremely lucky not to have conceded more points from this).
    Other than that it was great to see Farrell attack the line and put runners into space, with Billy V and Lawes carrying monstrously. Nowell and Burrell were also promising, but I hope to never see the latter cover wing again.
    Do I expect any changes going to Scotland? Other than Ford/Watson on the bench, no. Goode and Barritt offered nothing, with the latter not even attempting to make Fickou’s conversion any more difficult. Twelvetrees was also lacklustre but shackling Bastareaud often does that to a player and I think he deserves another go.

  8. Now I know how the Welsh feel when they play Australia ;)

    The positives:-
    – Fantastic effort by the starting pack. Especially back row + Lawes (who, for someone with historical issues carrying the ball, I thought was titanic).
    – Great to see Farrell much closer to the gainline, some good variety of kicks, passes and run (now that he’s making some breaks the rest of the team need to anticipate it and support him better, it seemed to catch them off guard as well). Still needs to cut out being a tool with some of the afters.
    – Encouraging debut from Burrell, aside from losing one collision against a ridiculously fat Bastareud I thought he did very well.
    – Brown getting the try scoring monkey off his back, hopefully we’ll see him match his club strike rate going forwards.

    The negatives:-
    – If Tom Youngs’ contributions are all about what he does ‘ball in hand’ he needs to convert back to centre. Missing a front jumper (who is feet above his opposite number) on an attacking 5m lineout isn’t acceptable. I would take Webber’s lineout work and grunt in the tight over Youngs carrying/rucking at the moment. We can’t keep losing critical lineouts at pivotal points in the game.
    – Danny Care, if only the box kicking can be sorted out, everything else was good. We were lucky France didn’t do more with some of the gifts he served up. Looked a much better pairing than Dickson/Farrell though.
    – Alex Fricking Goode. The mind is willing but the body is not able. Nowhere near an international back 3 athlete. Not just being beaten by Huget with an ‘Ashton’ tackle but allowing him to stay in the game, unforgivable. France demonstrated the value of express pace in a 23 shirt, Lancaster please do not give this plodder another cap. Such bad luck losing May so early on, his pace on his crossfield run looked electric and I really think he would have caused problems.
    – Bringing Barritt on for Nowell and moving Burrell to the wing WTF!!!!!!!!! Nowell may have made a few errors, but one thing he didn’t do is miss a tackle. Barritt for 36 I could understand. But sticking Burrell on the wing?????? Seriously!?!?!?!?! At the end it looked like a typical non-wingers defensive decision to come in and take the man and not trust the guys inside to get there. I’m still struggling to comprehend this one, like it can’t have actually happened, Barritt (who you only pick for defence) comes on and causes a reshuffle that makes your defence worse go-figure, probably the dumbest substitution in the Lancaster era.
    – Finding a 3rd tighthead. Thomas sitting on the bench “for the experience” for 80mins is no good. We saw enough in Argentina to know he’s not ready to anchor an international scrum, if he could be trusted he would have been on for Cole (poor bloke was knackered)

    I would have no issues starting the same XV next week, Nowell is a yard short on pace for an international wing but he made plenty of positive contributions and I’m sure the error count will be lower next week. 36 wasn’t great, he improved over the autumn series though, hopefully we’ll see the same trend in 6N.

    For the bench we need 10 cover, we need back 3 cover, neither of which are Alex Goode!!!

  9. Not all doom and gloom for England. Yes we should have won the game but with experience on the pitch, letting the game slip away at the last shouldn’t be too surprising. Shame May went off so early but I’m going to stick my head above the parapet and say Goode had a pretty good game. Yes he lacks a yard of pace but somehow he does manage to waddle past defenders on a consistent basis. Brown was immense and becoming a real totemic figure for England, always looks likely to best the first man.

    Times running out for Twelvetrees, yet to be convinced, if he doesn’t do it against Scotland then maybe it’s time to consdier moving Burrell or Eastmonds into 12.

    The pack was great at line out and loose, but what happened at scrum time?

    Robshaw I thought had a cracking game, always carrying, making yards and defending well.

  10. High on drama and excitement, low on skill or clear-headedness. The ability to come back from a dauntingly massive points deficit is worthy of enormous praise, but the circumstances that gave rise to it are concerning. May very unlucky and will look forward to seeing him next time around (looked like a broken nose so he shouldn’t be gone for long). Unfortunately it also meant we had to play most of the match with Alex Goode, whose name is singularly inappropriate, in his stead. Why was Goode on the bench? Had he been playing for any other team I would have found his ineptness comical I’m sure, but as he was on for England I mostly just found it infuriating. At one point he got confused after being tackled and presented the ball directly to the French. Woeful in every way, and surely he will be dropped in favour of Watson or Eastmond (though I doubt that last one very much) if not next week then very, very, very soon. Foden would have been much preferable.

    Twelvetrees had a rather poor outing, but hopefully as in the Autumn he will take it to heart and improve on it subsequently.

    Congrats go to the French, who had to exhibit even more mental toughness than we did to re-take the lead in the closing minutes, through a rather fantastic try (even though Goode did seem to miss the crucial tackle).

  11. Just to make it clear I am aware that Foden is unavailable due to injury, I’m just rueing that fact quite hard

  12. Think I’ll repeat it here as I can’t quite believe how many people seemed to have missed it during the match, Nowell was injured. We were down to 14 men for a while and the commentary team commented that Nowell was down.

  13. If the bench were set up slightly differently tho then more appropriate cover may have been available. Watson or eastmond would have offered more flexibility than Goode or, if they didn’t trust Thomas to play, but an extra back in for him. Goode is a clever rugby brain but is too slow and was exposed for the French try.

  14. By law you have to have full front row cover, can’t drop Thomas.

    If Watson or Eastmond were there instead of Goode, we’d have had one wing still adequately covered, the second would still have been a centre out of position. God forbid Brown go down, because Eastmond or Watson are not international class fullbacks (Watson may be one day).

  15. Here’s one for you to discuss chaps. Eastmond has played for bath at ten. Probably a similar amount of times that Goode has for sarries. So Lancaster clearly rates this credit in the bank bull quite highly. I understand being loyal to players but where is the ruthless edge? It took him a year and a half to drop an under performing Ashton. Should be giving players caps. We persevere so much with tried and tested, you simply can’t predict how players will play fort heir country. If club form was everything, Wales would be battling it out with Italy to avoid the wooden spoon.

    1. If you look at how many of the Welsh team are playing for Welsh clubs, then it’s not surprising they won’t be fighting for the wooden spoon. A lot of those Welsh players are playing for English or French clubs who are not struggling for form.

  16. Excellent game. Interesting that errors were made by England after good pieces of play. Knock ons by robshaw and mako following turnovers spring to mind. Bench decisions baffled me before the game. The French had a 19 year old on the bench who is widely tipped to be the next big thing in French rugby. England had one too in Watson. Except he was sitting in the stands. Would like to see Watson starting and eastmond and ford on the bench.

  17. HEARTBREAKING MOMENT OF THE MATCH: In the first half England have just turned the French over and spun the ball out to Billy Twelvetrees, supposed saviour of English back play and heralded as the second coming of Will Greenwood. He has three men outside him and a great opportunity to counter attack and…….he kicks the ball downfield.

    I could have cried – in fact, I almost did.

    This sums up the failure of English rugby more than any other example I can think of.

    1. Whilst I do see your point, in the context of the game we were camped in our own half and the French were finishing any half chance that came there way. In those circumstances I can see why 12t looked for the safety of territory to calm things down.

      1. I see what you mean but France were terrible – their two first half tries were from flukey bounces. England should have put them away and opportunities like that shouldn’t have been wasted.

        What would the ABs have done in the same situation?

  18. Tbh this match could be summed up as thus:

    1) French clinical. England not. Seriously the French had 3 forays into the red zone and have 3 tries. England failed to score any points on a bout 3 or 4 occasions when 5m from the French line

    2) A coach who uses his bench to win matches rather than hang on. It’s great that SL trusted youth in the team selection, and I don’t think any of the newbies let us down, most of the errors came from more established players. But most fans looked at the bench and thought wtf. When May went off was I the only one thinking “great now we have no pace in the backs, wish we had Watson on the bench” and then when Farrell went down was thinking hmm, no fly half cover? What a joke. I will reiterate that had Hartley and Care stayed on we would have got that one final score we needed.

    1. To say France were clinical is a little generous in my opinion. They were dreadful second half, and the first try was a lucky deflection, second one a luck bounce. Third try was from players defending in unfamiliar positions. More lucky than clinical.

  19. The most annoying thing about the bench is that coaches don’t seem to know when NOT to use it.

    Danny Care had played a very effective game (poor box kicking aside) but it seemed that a predetermined 60 minutes swap for Dickson had been planned. Made no sense.

    Likewise with Hartley, as you point out.

  20. Generally was happy with the England performance. Didn’t win but a few rookie mistakes hurt us. We will learn from those and improve.

    Disagree with many of the comments over subs. What would have happened to the French backline if both wingers had gone off injured. They would have been in turmoil. What is a coach meant to do? Normally you want a FH and SH on the bench and one player to cover the back three, with centre being makeshift cover. SL tried to cover back three and FH with one player and centre with another. He went for experience over youth on the bench due to the new caps in the backline. So not perfect but understandable under the circumstances.

    Still not convinced we have any answers at centre apart from Manu, but we do appear to be having options at wing moving forward, which is an improvement on 12 months ago.

    Need more experience at back up FH and Tightness, but all seems to be moving forward. When you consider that we seemed to be moving backwardsunder Johnson, that is a relief!

    1. In what sense is Goode a rookie? He was at fault 3 times for the second try and made no attempt to take fickou and at least try and make the conversion difficult. Likewise Youngs. He is so unreliable at the moment.

      The criticism over the subs was more to do with Hartley and Care. Both playing well and not seemingly fatigued. Sapped us of momentum. Plus having no fly half left is very exposed when Farrell went down with cramp. Big fail from Lancaster. Really exposes the nativity of this coaching group. He needs an experienced head in there in the same way Eddie Jones helped Jane White in 2007

      1. I’m not defending the timing of subs which has been an England failing seemingly forever – agree with you on that point.

        However I am defending SL on having experienced subs on the bench when he is starting new players. We were undone by injuries in the backline yesterday more than substitutions. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a fan of Goode and I don’t think he should be playing for England (despite his improved club form this season), but we have a large number of backs injured, New players playing, so I can understand why he went for tried and tested subs for the backs, no matter how uninspiring they may be. At least he started the potential talent this time!

        The rookie mistakes I was referring to were Nowells. Had a hand in both early tries. I said before the game that a backline this inexperienced was going to make some mistakes and in a game of fine margins, this might well lose us the game. Delighted with how he grew into the game and I think he definitely has an international future, but inexperience and nerves played a part in this loss.

  21. Oh yes – is it too much to ask your SH to practice box kicking and your reserve Hooker to practice throwing? Work on your weaknesses!

    1. Well Jamie George hit 100% in atrocious conditions for the saxons at kingsholm. Not too shabby in the loose either.

      1. The point I was making as fairly universally agreed is that both Care and Youngs have problems with their game which don’t seem to be improving. It’s frustrating that nothing seems to be being done about it.

  22. People are being a little harsh on Goode here for the last try. Yes he probably should have tackled the player with the ball, but he had another player outside him, so the try would most likely have still been scored. The error came before when Burrell (not really his fault either, as he had pushed out to the wing) came inside to tackle the man already covered by Barritt. Had he stayed outside he could have tackled Fickou, leaving Goode, and whoever else was coming across to tackle the winger. To say it was all Goode’s fault is a little harsh.

  23. As pointed out elsewhere, Care was exhausted and failing to reach the breakdown, there was a sequence of at least 3 breakdowns that he failed to get to towards the end.

  24. The points made above about Hartley and Care and the general lapse in performance in the last 10 minutes suggest that England have a problem with fitness.

    Compare and contrast to New Zealand in the autumn, at the end of a long season for them. 2 games in a row, they managed to kick up a gear in the last 10 and win both matches that could easily have been lost.

    At this level, players should be able to last 80 mins, even in an intense match like this. There’s no real excuse for fitness levels not being to the required standard

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