RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v France

15. Ben Foden – 7

Shone at the back. It’s been a tournament of little excitement going forward for the Northampton man but his try was well deserved.

14. Chris Ashton – 5

Hunted for the ball more frequently, but to little effect. The penalty he gave away was needless and petulant. Out of shape.

13. Manu Tuilagi – 7

So important to England. Great finish for the try, left the French defence worrying.

12. Brad Barritt – 7

Subdued by Fofana, but nevertheless put in a series of big tackles. First class work rate.

11. Charlie Sharples – 5

A whirlwind first start and it showed. Will grow into the role.

10. Owen Farrell – 7

Mixed afternoon that ended on top. Tackling was outstanding. Some kicks were wayward, others spot on.

9. Lee Dickson – 6

Making full use of the rules with regards to time at the back of the ruck. Important tackle on Poitrenaud.

1. Alex Corbisiero – 6

Up and down in the scrum. Great defensive effort again. Has secured the number 1 shirt.

2. Dylan Hartley – 5

Dogged as always, though he hasn’t grabbed the spotlight at all this year.

3. Dan Cole – 7

Very good. Scrummaged excellently, put himself about and even produced a couple of try-saving tackles.

4. Mouritz Botha – 5

Knock early on left him dazed throughout. If Lawes had been on the bench would have been replaced much sooner.

5. Goeff Parling – 7

Not easy to run a lineout threatened by Imanol Harinordoquy. His carrying and defence were very good in the second half.

6. Tom Croft – 8

That’s better. Crucial steals at the lineout, powerful runs in the loose, plus the all important try. His best performance for some time.

7. Chris Robshaw – 6

Yet to have a Thierry Dusautoir level of performance, but highly praised by his team mates.

8. Ben Morgan – 7

What a burst in the build-up to Ben Foden’s second try. Surprising pace for such a big man. Needs to be able to play full 80 minutes.


Phil Dowson’s brave intervention on Fofana was crucial. Palmer also did well, whilst Rob Webber will not be too eager to pack down at blindside flanker any time soon.

by Ben Coles

28 thoughts on “RBS Six Nations 2012: England Player Ratings v France

  1. Clearly a Ben Youngs fan then BC, you’re pretty grudging in any kind of praise for Lee Dickson there… Dickson barely hung around at the back of the ruck, and when he did, it was because England desperately needed that time. A scrum half cannot fire the ball away endlessly, especially when you’re defending a ruck in your own 22 – that’s when errors get made. Dickson is a master at knowing when to slow the game down to his side’s advantage – what’s wrong with that? Look at how Ben Youngs suffers when his pack is on the back foot – because he doesn’t know how to change the pace of the game in order to give his pack some time to catch their breath! It should be the attacking scrum half’s job to control the pace of the game, and Dickson does that marvellously.

    What about his lovely break early on that would have been a try if Ashton hadn’t been taken out off the ball, or setting up Tuilagi for his try-scoring run? Could have mentioned those instead of this nonsense people keep talking about taking time at the base.

    1. Fan of Youngs? You didn’t read my England PRs for the first two matches then. Thought Dickson was good, not outstanding. Certainly better than Youngs though.

      1. I also think Youngs is doing well, Im also a big fan of Owen Farrell, although he was not at his best in the game against France.

    2. I think Dickson was worth a 7. I agree with Matt he only takes ages when we’re in our 22 looking to clear and it doesn’t need to be done urgently anyway. But i don’t think Ben’s analysis was supposed to be an outright attack on Dickson in the regard, was it Ben? I think Dickson has been one of England’s major positives this year. He just digs the ball out and fires it away quickly keeping the tempo up. However i do think Youngs in his peak was better and has more potential i really hope he can get it back.

      1. That’s a good point – sorry Ben I don’t mean to criticise, but I wanted to make my point somewhere or other about the benefits of slowing the ball down somewhere!

  2. Ashton had his best game of the tournament so far (not saying much) but his tackle on Szarzewski ultimately set the tone for the match for me.

    From up in the stands Morgan and Parling stood out, Farrell’s kicking from hand was poor and Dickson marshalled the troops pretty well. The whole back row performed pretty well I thought actually and Crofts try was their reward.

    On the whole though, we let France back into it on numerous occasions, though I was quite impressed with the way we ground the clock down while down to 14 men (no comment with regards Rolland’s interpretation of the deliberate knock-ons as I did enough commenting on that in English and French, and very loudly, at the time)

  3. We are getting better with every game. None of these away games have been easy, and yet we’ve won all of them. Gutsy, gritty and dogged performances from a team so inexperienced.

    You can see why Flood was left out. He would never have put in the tackles that Farrell did. And it could have meant us losing the game.

    I do think though if Sharples is playing again next week, we need to be putting more sneaky kicks into space for him to chase. And his yellow card was ridiculous. I love when Robshaw asked “wasn’t it the same as the their deliberate knock on?” to which Rolland replies no! Well he was right because Fofana’s was much worse. He was three feet in the air with no chance of catching the ball.

  4. Find it difficult to see how you can give Poux a 5 and Corbisiero a 6 or Harinordiquy a 7 and Croft an 8. They were both evenly matched. More inconsistency than Rolland (I say that last bit in jest!) Generally agree with these marks though.

  5. The crucial difference between Ben Youngs when he’s in form and Lee Dickson when he’s in form, is that youngs would have had the pace and probably would have sucked in another defender to give manu an easier run in. Yeah, Dickson is a scrum-half which offers excellent basics and control, but Young’s has that x-factor. International teams need players that can make something out of nothing. Just look at how important Cooper and Genia are to Aus and the Reds. Anyone could watch the reds game last weekend and see they were missing the presence and un-predictability of cooper. All the haters will be loving little, little ben when he’s back in storiming form. Just to prove a point, Youngs- debut against Aus, scores a try in one of englands first wins down under in a couple of years. Dickson-solid displays in forgettable games. I think he’s a great presence to have, I think he’s made Young’s realise that the 9 shirt isn’t his by default.

    1. Haters? I haven’t heard any hatred on here. Youngs’ form for England this year has been woeful. He hasn’t done the bread and butter, let alone showed any of his x-factor. I don’t know what his problem is, whether it’s coaching issues or off the field stuff, but he should not be in the starting XV right now. He needs to get right quickly though. Personally I think he’s been pretty average since his initial burst onto the scene. Pretty soon he’s going to be known as an inconsistent player with the odd flash of brilliance.

  6. I think you’re a little harsh on Ashton who had his best game of the tournament, and you could probably have found something else to say about Dickson! I thought he did the basics well and distributed as much quick ball as the pack could create. He does seem to take an age to line up 5 players to extend the ‘back foot’ well behind the ruck, but that’s a very minor criticism and it doesn’t have much impact on the game…it’s just a bit annoying to watch!

    The ratings are pretty fair across the board. I was about to defend Sharples, but he didn’t get much opportunity to shine after the early mistake.

    1. Sharples defence was not the best and another game where the wings didn’t have any ball. However they didn’t seem to go looking for it. Would like to see him have some more game time though, despite this inauspicious start. He looked lightning quick against good international opposition when he was chasing.

  7. Does anyone think Waldrom should be given a chance in the first team? Just curious because looking at Morgan play they seem to be very similar players but Waldrom can last 80 minutes. Just want to see opinion on this!

    1. Do we know that Morgan can’t last 80 minutes? It’s as though Lancaster has promised Dowson 15-20 minutes at the end, without really assessing the situation. I may be wrong, but didn’t really see Morgan tiring.

      1. I thought Morgan disappeared somewhat, which is normally an indication that someone is tiring.

        However I don’t think you should bring in Waldrom after what Morgan has done.

  8. As with previous point giving, I think Robshaw’s score is a little bit under-stated.

    The work he got through both as captain and in the rucks, mauls and tackles was immense, he seemed to be everywhere. Just because it wasn’t flashy, doesn’t mean it wasn’t there – a bit like Richard Hill, whose best work was done in the dark

    He is not an out and out 7 and I don’t think anyone could argue that he was, but he’s now played against two of the best in Warburton and Dusautoir and even with the added weight of captaincy, has in no way been shown up.

    Croft deserves the plaudits for that game, but until he does the same game in, game out I still believe he is a luxury as a blind-side flanker and that Wood at 7, Robshaw at 6 and Morgan at 8 would be a better balanced back row

    1. I wonder if Lancaster would consider playing Croft in the second row alongside Parling or Botha? The question is which one would you leave out. Parling or Botha. Botha has been the enforcer, putting in big tackles, and putting pressure on the kickers. While Parling has been calling the lineouts and on Saturday making hard yards. Croft could easily make those yards from the second row, and put pressure on the kickers, but could he run the line out, or make those big tackles?

      Personally I would keep it the same, but replace Dowson with Wood, and when Wood comes on move Robshaw to eight. He’s played at eight for Quins a few times, and I’m sure England have trained with him at eight.

      1. But then you would lose Morgan and I don’t think that’s the answer

        Perhaps Croft should be used from the bench and bought on once the opposition’s legs are tired – he can also cover lock then

        Mind you, if we’re going to do that I’d rather have Waldrom on the bench than Dowson. Take Morgan off if or when he gets knackered, replace with Waldrom who can run at tiring defences

      2. Croft is good in the loose wide exchanges he has to be a back row. Its his secondary covering tackles and link/support play that make him special. Also his lineout (obviously).

        Second row is supposed to be in the middle of all the tight stuff this is the worst aspect of Crofts game so playing him in the second row is ridiculous. He can do a job there in times of desperation but cannot start there.

  9. I don’t think youngs should be starting but I think it would be wrong to drop him out the xv all together. He’s still very young remember. I do hope he finds a good vein of form because he’s a pleasure to watch when he’s playing his game and not forcing anything. Anyone else think Parling has made that shirt his own? He has an excellent game. Farrell definitely needs more game time. He seemed to freeze a few times against france and then either take it in or hastily kick the ball away poorly.
    Kitchener had a stormer of a game for leicester against bath. Worth having him train in lawes’ place?

  10. He was immense, don’t get me wrong. But just putting it out there, Croft should have given that final pass to Foden. It was incredibly dumb to try take on the fullback with Foden free outside him.

    Luckily for him, he got past him. However had that been a defensively better full back, potentially a try butchered.

    1. Yes incredibly dumb of a big hulking forward running at full pelt at a much smaller full back, he would never score in a million years, oh hold on Croft did score and hold on we beat France!

      Typical as I said before we win and yet we moan about it!

    2. If you watch it again Foden is actually a bit too deep for Croft to wait for him i think once he breaks the line he has to go himself.

  11. I have to disagree with Lee Dickson’s score. His speed at the breakdown has transformed England. The long set up at the base when in a defensive mode is endemic in the modern game and should be legislated against. Don’t blame him.

  12. Aston – 6, More involved and the tackle to setup Tui, still needs to improve.

    Dickson – 7

    Hartley – 6, as we competed at the scrum and thrown was ok.

  13. Hartley – 6, the lineout was ok, he put himself about against a hard front row.
    Ashton – 6 as well, his defense was ok, a couple of good hits, more hungry for the ball but the England midfield is a little messy at the mo, non of the England wingers have had an effect on the tournement which says more about our back play rather than them.

    Dickens is playing very well, he offers a lot of urgency which England have lacked. I would like to see youngs back to form, I think he has more potential than Dickens and he is young so has time, at the moment no comp.

    Tui and Barrit are becoming very important for England, in different ways, this is causing some concern as niether are great passers of the ball. I wouldn’t drop either. Rather look for solutions, maybe Oden can come into the line earlier and create or choose a footballing winger to come in an create much like Austin Healy use to do. I don’t know who it would be just throwing the idea out there. Maybe convert Youngs into a winger, one can but imagine. Jame Simpson-Daniel, I don’t know, Any suggestions?

  14. The bottom line for me is simply this.Over the last few years I have endured numerous England performances that, win or lose, always left me feeling frustrated and despondant at the team’s performance. I often used to tell friends that I actually didn’t mind losing if I felt we had played well and shown some skill and commitment.

    Well, for me, that time has finally arrived. Under Lancaster, the team has found a level of cohesiveness and spirit that was missing for so long. We have finally cleared out the old guard and given the kids a chance. Hallelujah! OK we lost to Wales but I really don’t mind…..and we could easily have won. I know its very early days, but boy am I envigorated by what I’ve seen during this tournament and, yes, I’m actually proud of England again.

    Oh, and if you are seeking a new winger who embodies that ethos, look no further than Tom Biggs of Bath. The mighty atom plays his socks off every game and certainly deserves a chance at national level.

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