Reflections on Six Nations round two

No surprise results in Round Two of the Six Nations this weekend, but three matches that made for compelling viewing.

Firstly, France laboured past Scotland, without performing half as well as they did last week against the Irish. Scotland looked fairly dangerous at times, particularly with the lively Thom Evans in their ranks, but weren’t quite ruthless enough to take their opportunities.

The Wales / England game was next up, and a very tiring 80 minutes of rugby. The pace was frantic, and the English stifled many of Wales’ weapons and even secured some quick ball of their own – something we haven’t seen for what feels like an eternity. Promising signs for Martin Johnson, but ultimate defeat and Wales march on.

Then on Sunday, Ireland were too good for Italy in Rome, even without Mauro Bergamasco helping them from the base of Italy’s scrum – they now sit top of the table, and the Six Nations appears to be a two-horse race.

We’ll bring you more detailed opinion and analysis as the week progresses, but please let us have your initial thoughts and reaction to the matches.

12 thoughts on “Reflections on Six Nations round two

  1. I seem to be alone regarding statements/comments from ‘the pundits’ – I thought the standard of refereeing in the Wales-England games was frankly dreadful. There was no consistency. The Welsh backs were routinely offside and never penalised – the English backs were penalised for this – and they were not (at least Brian Moore spotted this one) – the resulting penalty finally killed the game. The Welsh forwards killed the ball time and time again by lying on the ball carrier after the tackle and were punished rarely. Byrne should have been yellow carded for his challenge on Armitage – not even a quiet word. And then the forward passes… the final pass from Byrne to Halfpenny was clearly forward judging by the cut marks on the pitch – not even a mention by the pundits and of course the referee chose not to notice. Furthermore there was another clearly forward pass just prior to Goode’s sin binning so that incident should never have happened. Assistant referees where were you? This is a major problem in test rugby. Where you have a potentially tight game the referee often influences the outcome. Granted England suffered their usual awful disciplinary problems but the game would have been mightily close had it not been for the continuing categories of refereeing disasters

  2. On the subject of assistant refs – did anyone see the Wasps v Leicester game yesterday? One of the assistants was woefully inept. When Tuilagi and Leo were scrapping i’m sure he hid behind his flag. He kept missing off the ball incidents, late tackles, forward passes, scrum offences. He was atrocious.

  3. As usual the referee for the England Wales match was woefully inadequate. He is inconsistant and blatantly anti England. Send him back to South Africa on a one way ticket and get a decent referee.

  4. Chris , david the ref has never ever been fair to any team that I support when they lose goes with the territory when your a supporter doesn’t mean he’s rubbish though.

    However it was widely stated that England trained with 14 men last week appeared to work well too when Tindall was off not so good with Goode (unintentional pun ). Who leaked this and why ? I think Gatland would have blown his top if anything came out of the Welsh camp like that certainly a red rag not to say a yellow card invitation to any ref.

    Further Johnson was widely reported this side of the Severn as saying that England wanted to win ugly i.e translation by slowing the ball down and getting involved in a physical up front game.

    Finally by refusing to have the roof closed in February in Cardiff this gave another huge signal that that England had a negative approach to the game , it backfired of course as the noise of the crowd was still deafening and the weather (and the pitch for once ) came up trumps . Again it signalled to the ref that only one side wanted to play positive rugby.

    A pity really because it’s clear that the England back-line has some talent and if like some other sides, France for one ,England had turned up with the right attitude the result might have been different .

    Anyway Wales won partly ugly for once and its onwards and upwards for us ,Ireland v England could be interesting if England take a more positive attitude into the game.

  5. Worsley did prove many (certainly me) wrong with what will probably prove to be his best England performance. I was also impressed with Ellis, particularly his aggression in defence. Sackey was pathetic in defence (he continues to stand off waiting for players to pass him rather than just smashing them) but took his try well (but then it was made easy for him and I have to think Strettle or Monye would have nailed it too).

    As for the referee – well he definitely had it in for England. It’s fine for a ref to have a strategy of refereeing to the letter, but you have to do it consistently. I’m going to post a quote below from someone commenting on a BBC blog. Having read his comments I re-watched the game, and I have to say I see what he means. England did not deserve to win, but Kapland played a strange game.

  6. Kaplan had an absolute stinker. As a ref I watch his behaviour more than most and would point out the following.
    1. Warning a side after 5 mins you are going to yellow someone ater the next penalty is putting you in a corner. No early penalty was in the red zone, and he should talk at the team not to them at this stage.
    2. If you are going to take this stance, it must be consistant. Wales comitted 9 penalties to 13 throughout the game (if I counted correctly), yet did not receive a card.
    3. Scrum management was appaling. Wales consistantly dropped the scrum on their tight side on their ball to prevent a push, and on England ball he walked round the scrum with Martyn Williams on more than one occasion, whilst the ball was still in. No binding call
    4. Positioning. On a number of occasions he put himself in the defensive line at an England ruck, and let the Welsh defence walk up offside, to the extent he had to walk forward to see the ball!
    5.Forward passes, quite a few. Halfpennys try started with one (before Goode was binned), and finished with a huge one. Kapland thought it was forward and looked to his TJ. Why not take a replay. Look at the reaction of Kapland and players in the backfield on the TV feed.
    6.Alan Wynn Jones. Does this man know where the offside line is? Every ruck he comes in through the side and fringes round offside. He consistently stands offside at breakdowns, and Kapland never pinged him. If he had Wales penalty count would have been higher than Englands.

  7. I didn’t think the ref was bad in the Wales v England match. England dug their own grave by giving away five clear-cut penalties in the first quarter. Regardless of what the ref thought of the teams before kick-off that would try the patience of a saint. So they were on a team yellow card warning after the first twenty minutes due to their own making and any “bias” after that isn’t really bias at all because they had given the ref enough reason to be permanently on their backs for the rest of the match!

  8. The other problems England had were also of their own making:

    Easter being completely lacklustre in all areas of the field but especially when fielding kicks.
    No-one seemingly aware when a high ball was about to go up so not chasing as a team or, worse, not being bothered to chase/thinking someone else would do it.
    Being out of ideas after two phases (until late in the game when, admittedly, we played some excellent fast-paced rugby).

  9. Come on boys, let’s not blame referees for all our problems. If we’re going to do that we may as well all go out and buy an All Blacks shirt.

    I must admit, I found it inconsistent that Goode was carded and Ryan Jones wasn’t, and I do think Kaplan has his faults – at times he even makes Marius Jonker look good, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that he cost us this game.

    It was a good improvement on last week though by England. There’s only so much improvement you can realistically expect from one game to the next, and it was just good to see England try to move the ball a bit, and with some success.

    Hats off to Wurzel for easily his best game for England yet (you may have sussed before that I’m not a big fan! Credit where it’s due though) as did Flutey. The indiscipline is still killing us though. Ignoring the cards we still gave away too many kickable penalties.

    Appalling piece of decision making at the end too to kick for goal when we weren’t in a great position and the not so reliable Flood was kicking. We needed a try so we should have gone for it first and then we could have attacked Wales knowing that any score at all would win it. But instead we just showed what we already knew that Flood hasn’t got the temperament yet, if ever.

    Still, it was an improvement and I hope it’s the start of something and it wasn’t just inspired by the great England-Wales rivalry, and that we improve again and look to play a more positive game in Dublin.

  10. Not making excuses or over reacting, but I personally think Jonathon Kaplan should be investigated by the IRB, and not just for his performance of the England vs Wales game, but for all the England matches he has referee’d. I think they would actually find that he is consistently biased against England and he constantly penalises England far worse for the same offences that other teams commit. I’m not saying that I disagree with referee’s taking action against us when we commit offences, because I don’t, quite the opposite actually, but as long as both teams are treated the same. This was clearly not the case on saturday, as Wales were allowed to get away with the following:

    1. Constant forward passes – Halfpennys try for example
    2. Constant killing off the ball – especially by Martyn Williams (should have been sin binned)
    3. Constant offside
    4. Dangerous tackles – Lee Byrnes on Delon Armitage (should have been sin binned)
    5. Regularly not binding properly during scrummaging

    England received 2 sin bins for committing offences, however in accordance with the laws of rugby, Wales should have received at least 2 sin bins too! Instead, they were simply allowed to do whatever they wanted. I wonder who would have won if both teams had been treated equally?

    Good to see England looking hungry and passionate for a change, although still a little disappointed/confused with some of the selections i.e flood, sackey, borthwick, goode, narraway, hodgson

  11. Sorry if I sound like I’m solely blaming JK for us losing. I’m not. I do firmly believe that JK’s refereeing had a huge impact on the result of the game, but it was our disipline, decision making and poor kicking that finally cost us the game. Was nice to see improvements and hopefully (fingers crossed) we can continue to build from this

  12. Shows a competitive championship which is good as teams like scotland and italy develop and create a tougher championship. like the hcup this season, every team has played outstanding bar a few.

    looks as if ireland and wales will showdown in the millenium stadium.
    but im not so sure that wales will win in paris.
    france look seriously impressive(ireland game) but lack conststency.
    england are improving but i can’t see them touching ireland.
    their pack isn’t great bar haskell, worsely and possibly sheridan.


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