RWC 2011: England Player Ratings v France

1. Matt Stevens : Should never really have started following his last performance against Scotland. Gave away some crucial penalties again but improved when he moved to the other side of the scrum. Needs to establish himself in one position. 5/10

2. Steve Thompson: Failed at the lineout, took the ball on but didn’t impose himself on the match. One of many senior players who needed to take control but didn’t. 4/10

3. Dan Cole: Held up well in the scrum but not much else to discuss. Will need to ask himself what he offers ahead of the other props and go from there. 6/10

4. Louis Deacon: Arguments for Deacon being in the side centred on his lineout ability but he failed to disrupt consistently. Courtney Lawes should be ahead of him in the pecking order. 4/10

5. Tom Palmer: Tried to move forward but clearly had difficulty getting his teeth into the game and was knocked back a couple of times. Still a front runner for one of the second row shirts but a match to forget. 6/10

6. Tom Croft: Desperately needs to find his 2009 Lions tour form as he is real danger of losing his place in the starting line up now. A number of errors in open play and generally failed to raise his game above that of the French backrow. – 5/10

7. Lewis Moody: Started well but began to lag after a while. No one can fault his commitment but when you are no longer the best player in your position it is time for a new captain. 6/10

8. Nick Easter: Moved at glacial speed throughout and although he helped provide cleaner ball for Youngs he was rarely present at all, bar one run which seemed like an almighty effort for him. 4/10

9. Ben Youngs: Improved on last weekend but still needs to go away and work on his distribution. Part of the reason our backrow wasn’t present at the ruck as much as they needed to is because he failed to boss them accordingly. 4/10

10. Jonny Wilkinson: Purely started because of his reputation in my opinion, and may as well have worn a blue shirt as he caused constant problems with passing , kicking and decision making in general. Nothing will take away the fact that he was one of the greatest players for his country, but he is now a shadow of his former self and needs to step aside. 3/10

11. Mark Cueto: Consistent but it won’t stop people asking questions about who needs to come in and fill his boots now. Took his try well but so predictable throughout. 5/10

12. Toby Flood: Clearly uncomfortable at inside centre and probably was not so keen on sharing responsibilities with Wilkinson. Was more dangerous when he moved to fly half but still a stuttering performance at times. 6/10

13. Manu Tuilagi: One of the highlights of England’s World Cup but illustrated his inexperience at times against France. Clearly the brightest spark from a dark campaign. 7/10

14. Chris Ashton: Was not used enough and when he did get into the match he tried to force it too much. Some wingers would say he wasn’t given the space, but good wingers would find that space from nothing. 5/10

15. Ben Foden: Took a great line to score his try and was very self critical of himself and his team mates after the game and rightly so. Was found dozing for the Medard try but better than most on the pitch. 6.5/10


16. Dylan Hartley: Still room for improvement but with the lack of depth at the moment, and Thompson’s performance, he will hold onto the hookers shirt. 6/10

17. Alex Corbisiero: Added to previous performances and can leave New Zealand knowing his case for a starting spot is even stronger. 7/10

18. Simon Shaw: Defying the test of time, Simon Shaw helped bring and intensity to the second rows that was missing. Clearly still loving his rugby and despite the team leaving much to be desired, he can hold his head high. 7/10

19. Courtney Lawes: Needs to find his form from 2010 as he is missing that tenacity from before. Almost seems happy to wait for the big hit rather than roll his sleeves up and do the hard work. 6/10

20. James Haskell: A strong World Cup for Haskell and was robbed of a starting spot for poor reasons. Showed why he should have been in the first 15. 7/10

21. Richard Wigglesworth: Although he may not offer the same sniping runs Ben Youngs used to, Wigglesworth helps improve the chain between forwards and backs so much better. Scrum half will be made even more interesting when Danny Care returns. 7/10

22. Matt Banahan: I’ve never been a fan of Banahan but he used his power to get across the gain line a few times when he came on. Should have passed when he bounded through for a chance, but not too bad. 6/10

by Nick Winn

21 thoughts on “RWC 2011: England Player Ratings v France

  1. I think all of these are fair. For me Tuilagi, Lawes and Haskell were our best players at this WC. A lot of people have said that Haskell is not an 8, and yet he was still much better than Easter. At least Haskell can cover twenty metres faster than my two year old son.

    The big question is whether MJ has realised there are a lot of members of this squad who are just not good enough anymore. Either because they’re too old or because they’ve just lost their form. I hate to say it but look at Gatland’s Wales selection. Everyone raves about Hook and Ryan Jones, and yet when they lost form, and other players stepped in, they lost their place. Why hasn’t this happened in the England squad?

    1. Have to agree – Johnno picked on reputation, not form. The last time he started picking on form was when Ashton and Youngs both came into the team. The honourable exception to this was Tuilagi who bulldozed his way into the first team and couldn’t be ignored despite being relatively inexperienced.

    2. Easter is our best No8,he tightens up what can become very poor fwd efforts.
      We are caught in a rebuild with some guys just short of form
      Haskell is a fine player but at 8 he will leave us exposed,as he is off to Japan not a worry, Wood unlucky not to feature,we need a genuine 7 to rival MCCAW or Pocock, he must be out there , only the truly stupid will say that half hour of shenanigans cost us aa game or,indeed ,the RWC , PLAYERS BOTTLED UP FOR TEN WEEKS NEED a release, likewise the Scum of Fleet Street need a Hero they can belittle and copy though in such short supply they remilked a couple of miniscule episodes and created a vision in the non-Rugby mans mind of a Jolly boys Majorca Golf weekend.

      1. So the RFU and management team will have a review and as always the comment of ‘lets take the lessons we learned and move forward’. So what are the lessons:

        1. Don’t go getting involved with women in nightclubs.
        2.Don’t abuse hotel femlae staff.
        3.Don’t get drunk and disorderly at dwarf races.
        4. Don’t get yoursself banned for dangerous play.
        5. Don’t cheat but swapping balls illegally.
        6. Don’t go jumping off ferries.

        It is supposed to be a privilage to represent your country at sport and top sporting professionals should be ambassadors for their country.

        I’m sorry but this bunch just thought they had to turn up to win, they thought they didn’t need to work hard for it and that attitude and arogance cost then their success. Plus the fact that they weren’t that good.

        1. I don’t think any of that is true. For a start, let’s forget all this off field nonsense. Tindall’s level involvement with a woman at a nightclub appears to be being friendly with an acquaintance. big whoop. Drunk and disorderly at a dwarf race? Nobody actually made a complaint regarding their behaviour and the bar staff said their behaviour was exemplary. They just appeared to be having fun, a damn good idea in a team sport. I also question the level of the abuse of the hotel staff as she had been speaking to the players afterwards and if it were that severe she wouldn’t be near them.

          The arrogance comment smacks of Welsh fans whose exemplary Sam Warbuton has told everyone he doesn’t drink because he’s a professional, possibly the most arrogant thing I’ve heard all world cup. There is an air of professionalism among many of the players, lots of team building going on and it’s reported as what lost them games? What lost England the game was a lack of gameplan and the wrong selection.

  2. Well, obviously disappointed. I think England’s problems this World Cup have stemmed from dubious selections and mismatches in linkups.

    Youngs and Wilkinson is an example. I don’t think Youngs was a 4, but he hasn’t and doesn’t link up with Wilkinson’s deep style of play. I’ve said it numerous times, the tactic before the world cup was perfect, Youngs and Flood link up, play flat, go in and get points on. Then half backs change ~60 minutes in and Wilkinson pins them back. I don’t know why this was changed for the world cup.

    Playing Flood at 12 was a massive mistake and there was only a slim chance it might work. Potentially, Flood and Wilkinson keep changing and the French don’t know what’s going to come at them. Reality – Flood wasn’t sure what he was doing or where he should be and Wilkinson had another dreadful performance.

    Stevens… What can I say? I don’t imagine Rowntree was pushing for his selection ahead of the much better Corbisiero. He again struggled and gave away the penalties that kept France ahead of England in the scrum and the loose.

    Wilkinson’s refusal to distribute kept a number of the back division out of the game. I thought Cueto had an OK game. May not be quick, but a much better choice than Delon Armitage who doesn’t support or run the right lines.

    Can’t criticise the choice of Steve Thompson, he was unusually disappointing on the day. He has been so good in the build up to this world cup though

    I’m still very disappointed that Waldrom was called out and never used. I know Easter is the established man in the England 8 shirt. However, as 8s go, Waldrom was the outstanding man in that position last year and I feel offers more at 8 as well as 6/7 cover than Haskell. Also, I think the 8, 9, 10, 12 axis that worked so well in the Premiership last year may have been a good shout for England

    1. I think you have hit the nail on the head there xxxwookie; if you are going to play Youngs, Flood & Wilko, why not play Flood at 10, given that Youngs & Flood play together at club level? Surely that would have made more sense? Then again, the team selection for the final game didn’t appear to be based on much common sense anyway….

      I thought Easter had an ok game; I know he isn’t quick but he’s solid. Haskell had clearly done something to piss off MJ, otherwise why bring on Lawes for Moody?

      All in all, it’s pretty tough to take any positives from the game. Or the tournament as whole, really. Wholesale changes needed, both on & off the pitch, but given the mess that the RFU is in, are we likely to see them?

  3. The whole campaign was a disaster.

    There are issues there that run deeper than form in this squad and that is something that needs to be ironed out.

    There is a lack of leadership in both forwards and backs and discipline is poor on and off the field.

    Things need to change, without question, and it needs to start with the day to day running of the RFU and not just the team management or squad.

    The deadwood needs to go, otherwise we’re going to sink into the depths again.

    1. are you Rob Andrew? or just a redirected Daily Mail reader?
      This is a Rugby forum,as you clearly know little of note regarding the Game is it possible you could go and spread your minimal knowledge elsewhere?

  4. I don’t think off-field discipline is as bad as the media are having us believe. We’re talking about very minor incidents, noone got into fights, raped anyone, murdered anyone, was caught drinking outside of curfew, waved their genitals at locals etc.

    I think the RFU need to look at themselves and avoid involving the team while they restructure. When the RFU settles, start thinking about team management. The worst thing they could do is say “the team looks bad, clear everything out and start again”.

    Ed – I think Lawes came on for Croft rather than Moody. I had wondered about the change myself at first, but with Croft coming off, the consideration would presumably be for another line out jumper – Lawes. Made some sense, but felt a it bizarre.

  5. Wilko is no longer eligible for selection, so that’s a problem that has sorted itself out. I think it’s time to start bringing in the young guns like George Lowe, Owen Farrell, Joe Marler etc.
    In the long run, when these players mature properly, the England team have a lot of potential. Time to replace Cueto with someone like Charlie Sharples as well. His sidestep is becoming a bit to obvious. He may have scored a hat trick a couple of matches ago, but let’s face it, a loose forward would have put those 3 away just as well.

    1. if he gets a pass to him that isnt 160MPH or behind him or with three men on him. Cueto is a terrific footballer and did us proud, TEST RUGBY IS ABOUT WINNING Johnson instilled that in this squad, we were unlucky ignorant hyperbolic statements will not help.

  6. As gutted as I am and hacked off at what was a bizarre selection policy (I did say before the game that I thought MJ was wrong – but we’d know by 9.30am Saturday). I still think we have the basis of a half decent team. Players form comes and goes – look at the Welsh selections for proof of that – and some of those who haven’t played to their potential will come round again. We also have some good players at home playing for their clubs. However…

    Inside centre, No. 8, openside, hooker, and captain are problem areas and vitally important for the team. Where are they coming from?

    I asked this question on another blog and got Hartley and Wood as suggestions for captain. Don’t know about Wood, but he’s got to get in the team first and blindside is an area of hot competition, but sorry Hartley is a hothead and not a thinker. We need some intelligence for captain – someone who can recognise what is going wrong and come up with a solution. We have looked better in every 2nd half after MJ’s team talk because he can do this, – but he’s not on the field anymore.

    Also very disappointed with rugby players beleiving they are footballers with their attitudes. No problem with nights out (wasn’t it John Jeffrey and Peter Winterbootom, who used the Calcutta Cup for a spot of alcohol fuelled drop kicking practice? It was certainly something like that, and they were both standout players of their generation), but at least turn up when it really matters!

    1. Wood has far too little experience to be considered captain and Hartley struggles enough focusing on his own game. Croft arguably has experience and a good game (usually). Assuming you’re dropping all players not eligible for the next world cup, Easter won’t be. Foden I think has a good game and experience and captaining from fullback can get a good view of what’s going on.

      I don’t believe in half back captains, they’ve got enough to do so not Flood. I don’t see Ashton as a captain either, probably assuming Cueto will be too old. Really speaking, I think it makes sense to keep Moody as captain for another year and see who else puts their hand up for it. I don’t see Moody playing beyond next season anyway.

      I think I’m more optimistic than anyone else here. I see the England team as having some good players with poor selection. I also see the Saxons squad and the under 21s squad as producing a good crop that England can start selecting from. David Paice to Hooker backup for Hartley, good bit of competition, a number of good wingers in Miles Benjamin and Charlie Sharples coming up, Jordan Crane as a seemingly rare out and out 8 and captain of the Saxons. Rory Clegg/Alex Goode/Owen Farrel as 3 promising fly halves

      I think the future is bright for England if they can manage their younger players and make the right selections.

      1. xxxwookie – Foden seems an interesting one – no idea what experience of captaincy he has or what he’s like in the dressing room, but does seem to talk a good game when being interviewed. Has also played in more than one position so might have a greater perspective on the game. Interested in Jordan Crane too. I don’t think we should rely on Moody – he will always be injured or on his way back from injury – the nature of the player, his body (some people are more injury prone than others) and the way he plays the game.

        Don’t get me wrong, I’m still optimistic for the future – gutted over the weekend, slightly more in context now. Rugby is often a game of the smallest margins – missed tackle here, a dropped pass there could be the difference(speak to the SA’s). It’s just that I think (possibly wildly optimistically) that we could have done better. Four years ago we massively overachieved so maybe its karma coming home to roost!

  7. Well, I saw the way the world cup was likely to pan out based on the groups and from the start I said this is one for England to go out in the quarters. England were always going to face France (worst case scenario, New Zealand) and that’s not a game we could say 100% would be an English win. I prepared for the possibility of a 1/4 final exit, though I feel a different England side would have pipped France given the performances leading into the 1/4s and France’s own bizarre selection policy.

    I thought England could either make it to a final with the All Blacks or go out at either of the knockout stages. I’m disappointed, but not unsurprised

    For Foden as Captain, I would say he bosses pretty well and knows his stuff. He’s a smart player and I think given some time could be a leader. Hartley on the other hand, in spite of captaining at Saints, is a hot head and when he’s not being a hot head, he’s struggling for a spot in the side. Foden is going to be full choice for some time I suspect where Hartley could be in and out of the team with Paice looking good to come into the side.

    1. Hookers get replaced in virtually every game as well. Do you want your captain on the pitch when it all gets tense in the final 5/10 minutes.

  8. Think the comments about Ashton slightly unfair. He’s a very good finisher but was given nothing to finish. Agree he tried too hard when coming to get the ball later in the game but what else was he meant to do? Can gaurantee that he would scored either french try had he played for them. Our problems came from much further inside and the links between the forwards and backs. Thought the selection of Flood at 12 very unfair on the bloke…he looked completely out of his depth there.
    Interestingly for me I would take a look at the backs attacking coach as well and ask what was going on there? Disjointed over elaborate set plays that slowed up the movement of the ball meant that often when we did eventually get the ball to the guy meant to be the runner he was tackled way behind the advantage line. Tuilagi is very raw and needs time to develop and the danger is that at international level you aren’t given that time. Unless he gets some awareness of the players around him and where he is on the pitch he will soon be found out at international level (players can tackle)…..he gave the ball away three or four times during the game by running into touch….Nonu he ain’t at this moment in time.
    Rugby has moved on and by the looks of it England’s management and coaching processes are stuck in the past without the players to carry out their plans. But look at Australia and what Deans has done with them…trust me they are average, but he’s picked a team and developed a style around them that suits their skills. England for me picked a style, picked a team and then asked that team to play that style.Never did the two meet.
    Is there no Will Greenwood around in England at the moment?… someone who can time a pass, move the ball and support, calm the game down a little from inside centre and control things. It’s not rocket science here. Unheralded but he was one of the main reasons we won the World Cup in 2003.

  9. Squad selection was one dimensional, no genuine No.7, no creativity or flair in the centres.
    MJ obviously had a set plan that was all about “grunt”.
    No Flutey, no Fourie.

    In addition he heaped presure on an undercooked Moody by keeping him as skipper when he should have been left to concentrate on getting his own game back to its best.

    Team selections were non-sensical, how could he pick Youngs and JW v France after the Scotland game? Stevens was another dubious one.

    Subs bench had 1 attacking back on it, I guess MJ didn’t contemplate that we need to come from behind?

    Subs during the game, Wiggles should have come on much earlier, at half time in my opinion.

    Did any of MJ’s decisions come off??????

  10. Rob F sadly as great a player as he was, you are right. Analyse everything but at the end of the day you come back to saying the coaches got it wrong. The players selected didn’t match the game plan or were unable to carry it out. For whatever reason MJ and his team failed in their task as coaches and should go. No second chances at this level as far as I am concerned.

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