Six Nations 2013 England v France: England player ratings

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15. Alex Goode: 6
Did everything that was asked of him. A couple of up-and-unders were perhaps a little misguided, but other than that it was a solid afternoon for Goode. He may need to show a little more of the attacking threat that propelled him into the public conscience, but for now his place is probably safe.

14. Chris Ashton: 5
Very suspect again defensively, and not only for the Fofana try. Completely outwitted on that occasion, although to be fair he was not the only one. Still works hard to get on the ball in attack, but defences seem to have worked him out. Will be sweating under the pressure of other wingers in form in the Premiership.

13. Manu Tuilagi: 9
England’s stand-out back by some distance and easily their most potent attacking threat. Consistently got over the gain-line and while there was a large slice of luck leading up to his try, he still showed good pace to get over the line. Proved why he must be one of the first names on the teamsheet in future.

12. Brad Barritt: 7
Seven is very much Barritt’s number: he never has a bad game, and yet rarely stands out either. Vital to the defensive efforts of the team, although with Italy to come next it will be mightily tempting to try out a Twelvetrees-Tuilagi axis in the midfield.

11. Mike Brown: 6
Another to be solid without sparkling, Brown showed good pace for one outside break but other than that did very little. Unfair to judge him on past performances, but it is interesting that he was nowhere near the top of the metres made stats, something which he has dominated in recent games.

10. Owen Farrell: 5
Not Farrell’s finest afternoon in an England shirt. Seemed riled up about something, needlessly trying to wind-up the French players after every tiny mistake they made. Threw a couple of wayward passes and even horribly shanked a penalty – something we haven’t seen for a while. Was replaced by the vastly more effective Flood after picking up an injury, which perhaps contributed to the lacklustre nature of his performance.

9. Ben Youngs: 7
Under increasing pressure from Danny Care, Youngs will have wanted a little more from his performance on Saturday. His arcing runs can look silly at times but his devastating pace means they can be deadly – sadly this weekend he was more or less well shackled by Morgan Parra (who was inexplicably subbed in the second half) and chums.

1. Joe Marler: 4
It speaks volumes that the scrum was substantially shored up after the arrival on 51 mins of Mako Vunipola. Not a good afternoon for the Harlequins loose-head, who was also fairly anonymous in the loose. It would not surprise many to see Vunipola starting against Italy.

2. Dylan Hartley: 5
Brought back in to provide bulk and boisterousness against an aggressive French pack, but failed to show much of either. Another to be taken off early in the second half and be outplayed by their replacement.

3. Dan Cole: 7
An pilfering presence at the breakdown, he has surely confirmed himself as the best front-row forward at that part of the game in the world. It is a shame, then, that he suffered at scrum time. He wasn’t helped by the two men next to him, mind you, but will still be disappointed that he couldn’t assert the dominance that he is used to.

4. Joe Launchbury: 8
Topped the tackle stats with 15, a figure that reflects just how busy he was in the loose. A couple of strong carries added to another exemplary performance from the young Wasp.

5. Geoff Parling: 7
Was typically triumphant at line-out time, claiming five in total, and along with his partner in the engine room showed impressive energy to put in another 80-minute stint.

6. Courtney Lawes: 4
The Lawes experiment did not work. Brought in to intimidate France physically he looked off the pace for an international back-row forward and was even knocked backwards in the tackle a couple of times. Credit to Lancaster for realising his mistake and taking him off after 50 mins.

7. Chris Robshaw: 9
Simply superb again from Robshaw. His hunger to get his hands on the ball is hugely impressive, and he again topped the carries chart with 16 – six more than any of his teammates. He is the ideal leader for this team and for Lancaster’s reign, typifying all the qualities that the coach holds dear.

8. Tom Wood: 7
Showed glimpses of some nice hands and carried more than he usually would. Tackled his heart out as always, but must take some of the blame for a faltering scrum. Out of position, and not as bulky as Morgan or Waldrom, he lacks the power to back-up the front five. Still a vital part of this England team, he should be returned to his favoured position on the blind-side.

Replacements:
The 50-minute men all made a big difference. Mako Vunipola shored up the scrum, Tom Youngs was a tyro in the loose and James Haskell added a physicality that Lawes could not. Danny Care was again impressive in a twenty minute cameo, but probably did not do enough to suggest he should start ahead of Youngs. The biggest winner from the bench was arguably Toby Flood, who showed a willingness to attack the gain-line that Farrell did not.

By Jamie Hosie

Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

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50 comments on “Six Nations 2013 England v France: England player ratings

  1. Pretty good, though 5 more than a little generous to Ashton. Tuilagi had a good game, but I’d say 8/10 rather than 9

  2. Hard to disagree really. I’d probably have given Cole a 6 for his sin bin.

    The Lawes pick didn’t do him any favours. He should have kept Haskell in the team purely because of the French physicality.

    I keep thinking that perhaps Haskell would probably have snagged Fofana!

    As for Ashton, i can’t get my head around it. He does still run good lines, but i think it may be more to do with the way we play rather than him. He doesn’t look short of confidence though, which can only be a good thing.

    That doesn’t excuse him defensively though. He was poor again, he’s not a small lad either.

    With the Brown/Goode 11/15, Farrell kicking out of hand and the persistent box kicking of the modern international scrum half, I can’t help but think that we need to have a winger who is going to chase kicks effectively, and not be wrong footed by a sidestepping forward!!

    • Good point RE the kicking and chasing. Ashton definately chases, but his tackling is just poor. It is comparable to a youth player who would chase and miss the tackle on purpose just to avoid tackling! Very frustrating when we see the kind of hits he can make (i.e. on Aplon in the summer)

  3. Couldn’t agree more about the Ashton comments 4 at best he needs to learn how to tackle and stop trying to come inside all the time, time to try somebody else in the 14 shirt agianst Italy I think and I don’t want to see Courtney Lawes in a number 6 shirt again for as long as I live!

  4. Think you’ve mis-understood what was going on with the scrum. The problems were mostly on Cole’s side (apart from one bit of poor hooking from Hartley)and were caused by:

    1. Domingo being both excellent and small and nuggety. He got underneath Cole on a number of occasions and bored in, causing Cole to pop up (see Vickery on last Lions tour for another example)

    2. France had more power coming through from the second row and number 8

    3. Lawes and Wood were played out of position, leading to less power in the scrum and less control at the base.

    Marler did well to contain one of the best tight-heads in the world for 50 mins – fair enough it left him with little energy to contribute in the loose

    BTW did Vunipola face the starting french front row or had they all been subbed by that point? It seemed to me that England shoring up the scrum had as much to do with the French subs as it did with the English

  5. Time to drop Ashton and bring in Sharples. I would also be tempted to put Brown on the bench and bring in Wade on the other wing.
    We do not at the moment have enough attacking from the back 3. Wade and Sharples will bring this in buckets!
    I do not understand how the England coaching squad can not see this as well…

  6. Don’t think the defense from Sharples and Wade is good enough to bring in both

    I agree Ashton should be dropped though. But bring Foden back and play Brown at full-back where he belongs and where he can do the most damage. Goode is solid but that is the extent of it

    Foden, Brown and one from Wade, Yarde, Sharples, Strettle or perhaps even Tom Biggs. I quite like Yarde

    • completely agree here. and will echo many that i think a 5 for ashton is very generous.

      the italy game is a good chance to have a look at a few younger lads.

      i am just a bit frustrated at the fact that we seem to have 3 potentially decent centres, and yet are struggling for back 3 options. i would like to see foden given a shot with brown at 15, i think that will help add attack from the back (brown has looked the only threatening member of the back 3 so far, and it doesnt surprise me that the french sort to deal with him)

      i would look at almost any other winger than ashton at the moment. the way he is being treated suggests that he can play poorly and is still safe, where as people like hartley/t. youngs or B. youngs/care and any of the backrow will have a half decent game and people say it isnt good enough because of who is sat on the bench providing impact when they come on.

      ashton has started most games under lancaster, and he plays 80 mins, but in reality he hasnt deserved it for a while. strettle is coming into form, we all know the quality of the likes of wade, may, yarde, daly, biggs etc etc… so its time ashton had to fight for his place and stopped coasting.

      my view right now is that ashton sees himself in a position like dan cole. regardless of if he plays poorly or not, there isnt anyone good enough to replace him. but the difference is, that isnt true for the wing! also the italy game is the perfect chance to “try a few things out/rotate the squad”.

      this would be the team i go for for italy:

      M. Vunipola, Hartley, Cole
      Launchbury, Parling
      Wood, B. Vunipola, Robshaw
      Care (not because i think youngs deserves to be dropped, but to give care a reward for good form recently and a chance to stake a claim)
      Flood (similar as above, also Farrell’s knock may need time)
      Twelvetrees, Tuilagi (give barritt a rest, and test these two together)
      Foden, Brown, Wade

      T. Youngs
      Marler
      Wilson
      Lawes (isnt really another option, plus his performances as lock cover have been alright)
      Haskell
      B. Youngs
      Burns (if fit – Barritt if not)
      Goode

      i think morgan is due to be back, but i would give him an extra week A. to have a look at billy, but B. because he will be crucial against the welsh (having played his club rugby against most until this year)

      • Simo, love the look of that team – sadly it will never happen though. While Billy V and Twelvetrees might get a shot, there are way too many other changes for Lancaster’s liking. Which is fair enough – if you’re winning you can probably feel a little hard done by if you’re dropped for no other reason than squad rotation.

        Ashton should go, Marland Yarde was immense at the weekend for Irish and probably deserves a shot. There’s certainly nothing flaky about his defence. Is he even in the Saxons squad though?

        Billy V in to start, with Wood to 6 and Lawes to the bench – although I expect Waldrom may start with him as a sub. Other than that I don’t think he’ll change much. Care/Flood possibly but Youngs has done nothing wrong and Farrell is still the ‘golden boy’ in a lot of people’s eyes so will probably carry on.

        • according to whispers Billy V would have benched against france but for an ankle sprain, and Waldrom was not even used, so i think that Waldrom has been earmarked as one of the changes to the EPS next time round (lancaster is limited as to how many he can make).

          therefore i would assume that if billy does not start (and morgan doesnt either) then we will see haskell at 6 and wood continue at 8.

          yarde has been good although i think he is an 11, not a 14. england are searching for an 11 (brown is doing a good job) but to make an 11 play 14 when we have so many others will probably not happen. plus yarde is not in the saxons, as you eluded to, so would not be able to join the squad due to the EPS agreement.

          i agree that youngs and farrell are likely to start for italy, of which i have not problem. in fact, that would potentially keep enough stability to allow for changes in the other positions.

          in which case i would go for the same pack as i said.
          youngs 9, farrell 10 (care and flood bench)
          same centres and back 3 as i said. with goode on the bench.

          • Good point about Yarde not being in the Saxons. Shame

            From the Saxons, there are the following wingers:

            Sharples
            Wade
            May
            Biggs
            Monye
            (possibly Eastmond – he seems to fit in anywhere)

  7. Cole – “the best front-row forward at that part of the game in the world”. While I think Cole is a brilliant player he has yet to reach the heights that Gethin has when it comes to turnover excellence. Gethin getting back to his best and Adam Jones having a stormer now gives the Lions some depth to choose from in the front row. (Jones/Hibbard/Gethin or Cole/Hartley/Healy could all be a decent shout).

    Glad you mentioned Farrell’s complete lack of composure. What happened to him on Saturday?

    I would find it hard to criticise the English wingers for Fofana’s excellent try.

    • Scottish front row also seem to be getting better with each game. Going to be some hard decisions for the Lions.

  8. How is Youngs under “increasing” pressure from Care? Youngs was one of the best players in Dublin, and whilst saturday wasn’t his best game, it certainly wasn’t a poor game.

    I don’t doubt that Care is providing pressure on him – which is a good thing – but is it really increasing?

    As for Dan Cole, he was propping against one of the best LooseHeads in the world, and I think he did OK, certainly after a poor start by the English 8. It is notable that he wasn’t replaced by Wilson.

    The biggest difference between the two teams were the bench players. England strengthened from the bench, whilst France – clearly – went in the opposite direction (though Fritz for the ineffectual Bastaraud possibly made little difference either way).

    • Perhaps it was a slight overstatement, but Care’s performances for Quins recently (when released) have been very impressive. I personally think Youngs is the better all round player and should be backed as the no.1 scrum-half, but there are certainly plenty of people saying Care deserves a start.

      • I thought England looked significantly sharper and quicker when Care was introduced.

        Youngs seemed to be rather slow to the breakdown on Sat and pretty indecisive once there.

        But perhaps introducing Care part way through the game to quicked things up is the way to do it, rather than starting him

        Still, I’d certainly start Care against Italy if only to give Youngs a bit of a break

  9. I think some of Englands bench players deserve a start after their performances on Saturday. Vunipola, Care Tom Youngs and Flood all deserve to start (especially as Farrell took a knock). Also I think Italy is a perfect testing ground for playing 36 and Tuilagi together. They played together a lot at Leicester, so against an Italian side who after a good start seem to have faltered, I think will be ok. Barritt on the bench to provide stability if it starts going wrong. I would also like to see Strettle come in and move Brown to full back, with Goode on the bench.
    If fit I would love to see an outing for Billy V at 8, and maybe starting Haskell, giving Wood a rest on the bench after two games out of position.
    I see a lot of people asking for Wade to be in the team, but you have to remember that he could only be brought in if there’s an injury in the squad. I believe that Strettle is currently the only wing cover in the EPS?

    • Could we see SL bring in Wade for injury cover for Joseph for the Italy game. Last week it was Tomkins, but with Barritt, Tuilagi and 36 all fit, we would be better off with another winger!

      • tomkins has already been training with the squad. the EPS agreement allows lancaster to call up any member of the saxon’s when an injury prevents an EPS member from training fully. there is not obligation to let them go again. this is why henry thomas has continued to train with the EPS from week one, when he was called up for corbisero. thomas has managed to escape being named in many lists of who is present, but pictures and video show his presence.

        i would have liked to see wade called up, and the injury to farrell (which will apparently prevent him from full training this week) would have been the perfect opportunity.

        i think we will see strettle given a shot in the 14 shirt, seeing as he is the only other winger in the EPS, and he was called up for this most recent squad, which would mean that he is in the pecking order above all saxon wingers. with there being a limit on the number of changes SL can make to the EPS each time, it would be a bit strange to use one on strettle, and then have saxon wingers leapfrog him…

  10. I would give Parling and Ashton a mark lower, Parling was largely anonymous outside of the lineout and whilst winning his own ball didn’t seem to cause any issues on French ball. Enough already said about Ashton.

    Cole I would give a 5 to, you can’t have a 7 as a tight head prop if your opponent has had you on toast all afternoon. Yes he still did some great stuff at the breakdown, but his primary job is to anchor the scrum and Domingo gave him a lesson. I don’t think the issues were down to weight in the second row/8 or Lawes binding technique behind Marler, every scrum Domingo got him in a disadvantageous position. Doesn’t mean he’s suddenly become a bad prop, Domingo just has his number (he handed out a similar lesson in 2010).

    Thought xxxwookie’s pre-match assessment of the backrow balance was spot on, we lacked a proper 8. Often had a Robshaw hanging back for the kick returns in a position that the more dynamic carriers of a Morgan or a Waldrom would be patrolling, taking Robshaw away from the areas of the pitch he is the most effective in.

    Half backs had a poor game, but we lost the battle of the breakdown, however I would rather fix the breakdown and keep the halfbacks that have been going well of late. Farrell’s behaviour was a disgrace though, that wasn’t “edge” it was playground.

    We need to increase the potency of the back 3. As Ashton is the only one of the 3 that can be described as a finisher, I would keep him in against Italy to hopefully find some form. Brown makes good yards, good workrate and decent pace, but by no means an electric winger. Goode is tactically brilliant, but he’s not a strike runner (zero defenders beaten on Sat). If Foden is fit I would bring him back, Brown to full back and Goode on the bench.

  11. If I’m going to compare this team to ones in the past, I think I compare Goode to Matt Perry, in that he is rock solid and will never let you down, but the management will always be looking for a Josh Lewsey type to take you to that extra level. Brown may be that guy, but we’re so thin on wings.

    Oh for North being English, Banahan having true international class or Ben Cohen in his prime.

    • Technically North is English as he was born in Kings Lynn. He chose to play for Wales because he grew up there and his mother is Welsh.

      • Speaks Welsh, has a Welsh mother, lives in Wales, grew up in Wales. You can go on about him being English as much as you want but he’s not, he’s Welsh :-) I can lend you his autobiog as well if you want, it’s in Welsh.

        • sorry, George North, the 20 year old has an autobiog?!?!?

          this is just ridiculous. i thought it was bad when wilko brought one out as a late 20-something (and he had won a world cup) but North has an autobiog at 20?!?! how long is it, 20 pages?

          an autobiog should be the telling of life achievements and stories, it shouldnt be written in the first quater of someone’s life!

          • In George’s defence this is a kids book. It’s a problem in Wales to get hold of welsh books that are interesting to young boys. George’s autobiog is part of a series of books aimed at helping out with this so it’s not a full autobiog, more of a welsh language book for young readers that is helpfully about something that ten year of first language welsh boys find interesting – my son loves it.

  12. He didn’t choose to play for Wales as for him it’s not a choice – he is Welsh. He plays for Wales. You make it sound like there was a conscious decision to pick one over the other. There wasn’t.

    • Brighty’s just getting touchy Dazza cos he knows that, along with Cuthbert, Lydiate, Jonathan Davies and Warburton, George North is really English

      • Aye, and Tuilagi, Vunipola (spell?), Barritt, Botha, Corbisiero, Waldrom and Hartley are really English as well….

        • i have to step in here and say that this is an arguement that is only going to end with players listing a number of guys who “arent english/welsh” which will inevitably go nowhere.

          pablito, just because those guys were born in england does not make their heritage english. afterall Lee Dickson was born in Germany because his father was stationed there at the time, i wouldnt call him german.

          and i know that manu tuilagi is not english, but i must say that he sings the anthem more passionately than any of the players in the england team. this country has adopted him, and he it, so lets just get on and discuss rugby

          • Simo I am assuming that, much like I was, Pablito was just mucking about. Nobody here is seriously having a dig at anyone’s eligibility, we all know what the rules are.

            However, I do find the Tuilaigi and the anthem comment funny. No problem with him playing for England at all (you go where the money is) but I’m fairly sure I could belt out God Save with religious like enthusiasm if I tried, especially as part of psyching myself up before an international.

          • even though you may have been mucking about, its just a topic that has been done to death, and the rules are as they are, so it would be running up a blind alley. also people say they are mucking about, but the number of eligibility arguments that go on and on and people become more and more riled.

            interesting on your suggestion that Tuilagi is pretending to be passionate. just wish some of his teammates cared enough to pretend that much.

            the kid almost cries every time he sings it. also i am pretty sure i remember a quote from him at the start of his test career, when asked about his samoan ancestry and the fact that all of his brothers have played for samoa his response was (and i may be paraphrasing slightly) “samoa is my heritage, england is my home”

            oh and one further note on your comment of saying you could belt out God save the Queen… i should hope so, seeing as it is the BRITISH national anthem. wales being a principality means that you are part of britain, and therefore she is your queen too… but thats just me being picky

          • at what point did i say “mere principality”?

            you can read into my comments whatever way you want, but it is the way that you are reading them which speaks volumes, not the way i am writing them.

          • Simo, I don’t think you understand. I added the mere because that is what a principality is. If you followed the link I posted you will see that Wales is not a principality, it is a country. Just as much of a country as England, Scotland, France, etc. Referring to it as a principality could be taken as a bit of a slur but I know you didn’t mean it like that, I was just saying it could rile people. Hopefully you’ll understand this and refer to Wales as a country from now on. Probably sounds like a small thing to others but it matters to some of us.

          • understandable brighty, and fair points you make.

            i did a bit of research between posts and found my comment of calling wales a principality was not accurate, because;
            A. It has been reclassified as a country, http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2012/01/20/wales-finally-meets-the-standard-to-be-known-as-a-country-91466-30160843/
            B. It is not ruled by a prince (which is a pretty big requirement of a principality!)

            actually i have discovered wales to be quite an interesting case, so have probably ruined my evening, as i am not spending all this time reading various things!

            overall though, not harm intended. after all, wales has its own national anthem, england doesnt have that, we just use the british one! :D

          • Jesus boys, I was just winding Brighty up. Didn’t expect a full-blown discussion on the definition of a principality!

  13. I’m sorry I inadvertantly appear to have started this with my connent about wishing North was English!

    As well as the lack of balance in the back 3 – I’d like a big tough gainline breaker to go with Ashton’s finishing and Brown’s spikiness and twisting with Goode as a solid reserve – I’m a little concerned about the pack. With Corbisiero at LH, I felt we could get away with the rangy, athletic type locks we are using which allow England to provide that acerbic, relentless physicality at the breakdown. As it is the scrum is a little creaky, and against the Welsh front 5 that is a concern.

    And that’s a big compliment to Wales, because I didn’t think that Wales would be able to weather the losses they have in the pack – Evans and Coombs have been far better than they can have expected.

    • Really enjoyed the exchanges above, good banter, but you did all forget Morgan……!

      Interesting thought as to who plays the least number of “foreign” players. Ireland? Argentina? S. Africa?

      Also glad to see the Wooden Spoon gone, although surprised that the pic wasn’t one of Gibbs bursting through the English defence, Or is that coming after the next round of games!?

      • Staggy, pretty sure that Morgan is born and bred English, he just played his rugby in Wales for a while.

        Interesting idea about the foreign players. SA have a few players from places like Zimbabwe and Namibia every now and then. Argentina and Ireland may be decent shouts.

  14. Just wondering, but with the modern rugby game now a quite obvious 23 man game, would it be good tactics to leave some of your best players on the bench and use them after 50/60 mins to break through tired teams? Just wondering… will we ever get to a situation when who starts in the XV is less important than the 23? Are we already there?

    • I did hear some pundits on the weekend suggesting that Tips is best as a sub as he isn’t the biggest of boys so can do his best work when others are injured/tired from Warbs being on for 60 mins. It’s certainly true at least that having a good 23 will probably outweigh the advantages of a stellar XV but a poor bench – as France found out.

      • Have to say that I think that Tipuric has been most notable as a sub not a starter. Definitely include both Haskell and Lawes in this category.

    • its an interesting idea. not sure if a player can be viewed as one of the “best” players if he isnt able to have an impact on the game from the start (you wouldnt see the all blacks have mccaw and carter on the bench).

      but i do think that there is something in your suggestion. certain players do seem to lend themselves to the “impact sub” role more than others. the england set up referred to Tom Youngs in the week leading up to france as “Mr. Impact”. On the flip side of the coin, i do think that certain players also DO NOT lend themselves to the impact sub role. i would see a player like barritt being in this category. these are the solid players who you want on from the start, and you want a solid 50-80mins from each test.

      for example, if you were to tell me i had to have one of 12Ts, Barritt or Tuilagi sat on the bench to come on and make an impact at 50mins, then Tuilagi would be the one i would back to make the biggest impact. But i would also say that he would have the biggest impact throughout the game, and england would not want to waste 50mins of play without him.

      i would not say that we are at the stage of leaving better players on the bench just yet. i would say that the world game is at a stage of having a starting XV of reliable players, and a few X-factor (but maybe more inconsistent) players on the bench. i think the best example of this would be at Northampton they tend to go with the cautious but reliable option of Myler to start, and the more volatile, but more potentially threatening, Lamb on the bench.

  15. Mike,
    As I remember, this happened in the 6nations a few years back (under Kirwan?), when Italy left their first choice front row on the bench with the idea that the second stringers would exhaust the French side and then the first stringers would dominate the 2nd half. Didn’t play out that way.

  16. interesting to see the names released by SL for this weekend.

    of the names he had in camp those released have been:
    hartley, wilson, lawes, haskell, kvesic, waldrom
    dickson, tomkins, strettle and foden.

    i think corbs, jj and burns were already out of action, and Daly didnt come back (he trained before the france game) which leaves:

    marler, vunipola, youngs, cole,
    laucnhbury, parling,
    wood, robshaw, vunipola, morgan
    youngs, care,
    farrell, flood
    barritt, tuilagi twelvetrees
    brown, ashton, goode

    so unless things change majorly in the week before the italy game, i assume we will be seeing a pretty similar team to the one before.

    the retention of m. vunipola suggests the decision on who starts at LH hasnt been decided.
    B. vunipola and morgan are both having treatment, but their retention suggests we may see at least 1. this also would suggest that wood is back at 6, as long as at least one of these two gets fit.
    i think 12Ts is being retained because Farrell is struggling with the injury, so he is running as a 12/10 i guess.