Six Nations 2013 Wales v England: England player ratings

tuilagi
15. Alex Goode – 4.5
Doesn’t seem to have the time on the ball that he used to. When he is pressured, he just seems to lack half a yard of pace to get him out of trouble. Plenty of endeavour (he was England’s top carrier) but not enough incision in his runs.

14. Chris Ashton – 3.5
The clamour for him to be replaced has surely now reached breaking point. He is still tries hard to have an influence on games, but he has been worked out. So suspect defensively that it is getting embarrassing. Comprehensively outplayed by North, and in the space of a championship has probably played himself off the plane to Australia.

13. Manu Tuilagi – 4
Well shackled by Welsh midfield pair, and was exposed as England’s sole attacking option – although that is not his fault. Dropped a clanger in the opening exchanges when there looked to be a good chance developing, and was also guilty of ignoring overlaps to go himself on a couple of occasions.

12. Brad Barritt – 5
Barritt’s assessment every week is becoming very easy to write. Solid defensively but what else did he offer? On a day when Tuilagi was marshalled out of the game there needed to be more from Barritt in attack. Offers no spark whatsoever, and at some point his defensive brilliance must be sacrificed for someone who can get the men outside him firing.

11. Mike Brown – 5
One superb, try-saving tap tackle on George North was sadly undermined by two missed tackles that led to tries. For the first he was swatted away by Cuthbert and for the second he was guilty of indecision as he allowed Tipuric to pass him and then offload to the winger without stopping either of them.

10. Owen Farrell – 5.5
Another mixed bag for Farrell, whose tactical kicking was excellent where his place kicking wasn’t. He is another who must take some blame for the lack of creativity in the backs. There was a superb try-saving tackle on George North, however, for which he does earn some credit.

9. Ben Youngs – 5
Easily lost his individual battle with Mike Phillips, but to be behind a pack that is being so comprehensively beaten up is never easy for a scrum half. Some sideways runs seemed aimless and a couple of passes went to ground – far from his finest afternoon.

1. Joe Marler – 3
Taught a lesson by Adam Jones. Anyone who is replaced four minutes into the second half knows they have had a bad game, and Marler’s was pretty awful. Obviously not entirely to blame for the frailties at the scrum, but at the same time he was shown up fairly horrifically.

2. Tom Youngs – 5
A tough afternoon for the still vastly inexperienced hooker. His work-rate is second to none and, like many others, there were some valiant tackles, but it was not enough. The line-out wobbled at times, too, and he was part of a front row that was destroyed.

3. Dan Cole – 4.5
Not quite as bad as Marler, but still an eye-opening afternoon for Cole. Another to have potentially ceded his Lions starting spot to his Welsh rival, the Leicester prop was ineffectual in the scrum and unusually quiet at the breakdown, where the Welsh back-row ruled.

4. Joe Launchbury – 5
Overawed by the physicality of his Welsh counterparts, Launchbury was part of a pack that was bulldozed into submission. Bags of potential and still the future in this position, but, as with the rest of the English forwards, he spent the afternoon tackling and being knocked backwards.

5. Geoff Parling – 5.5
Along with Launchbury did not provide the ballast that England needed in the scrums as they were marched backwards on several occasions. He made 17 tackles – an impressive number – but was unable to assert himself in the loose.

6. Tom Croft – 4.5
As with everyone else he was full of effort and did not shirk the physical stuff, but ironically this meant he couldn’t really show any of the blistering pace he possesses. Won plenty of ball at the line-out but was outclassed at the contact area against Wales’ duo of open-sides.

7. Chris Robshaw – 5.5
Superb attitude in never giving in and a monstrous effort in the first half to just about keep parity with the Welsh, but as the game wore on his influence gradually diminished. Lost the break-down battle which is bound to reignite the ‘true seven’ debate – Wales had two and England had none.

8. Tom Wood – 5
Another titanic stint in defence but was part of a pack that looked lightweight. England missed Morgan’s go-forward in the loose and weight in the scrum. It is not Wood’s fault that he is out of position, but he is not a natural number eight and that showed. An excellent blindside flanker, he must be allowed to play there.

Replacements
Mako Vunipola made a difference both in the scrums and in the loose, where he seemed to pop up everywhere. Care, Flood and Twelvetrees were thrown on in an effort to spark a revival in the back-line but were unable to make any obvious difference. Haskell was as ineffectual as Wood in stopping the Welsh tidal wave. On an unrelated note, what is the point in bringing Dave Wilson on for the last five minutes every week? He may have won 26 caps but has probably played the equivalent of two full matches.

By Jamie Hosie
Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jhosie43

78 thoughts on “Six Nations 2013 Wales v England: England player ratings

  1. Mako made no difference in the scrum (check the stats). First thing he did was give away a penalty. Its been a shocking 6N for Englands front row – Rowntree must have tearing he hair out.

    Well, what was left of it!

    1. Scrum did improve with Vunipola, it only went down rather than backwards and down!

      I was really impressed with the physicality that Vunipola did bring, some huge tackles and hurled warburton out ruck.

      If only he had a similarly sized brother who is faster, more powerful and more skilful ….

      1. I definitely wouldn’t say Billy is more skillful hes always knocking on and making silly mistakes.

        1. Don’t think it’s down to a lack of skill ball handling skills, the factors are:
          – Fitness/fatigue – he’s been making huge progress in this area though.
          – Risk/reward – admit he’s got some work to do on his judgement.

    1. It almost like a footballer, you have to reward them for not getting lost on the way to the middle

  2. Couldn’t agree more but Robshaw deserves better as he and Vunipola were the pick of a very poor bunch.

    Wales to be honest outclassed England in every department and it really hurts to say that, the biggest mistake England made was agreeing to shut the roof as I would of fancied us in a kicking game in the wet as it was wWles outplayed us against a wall of sound and hostility.

    I feel the result will galvanise the England side and make us stronger and now maybe just maybe Ashton gets dropped as he has been our poorest player in the tournament.

    Well done to Wales the best team won in the end.

    1. Agreed, he effectively nullified their scrum. Losing that option is akin to tying one arm behind your back.

      Wales fully deserved the win anyway, regardless of how many arms England would’ve had. They were excellent.

  3. I hate seeing Brown taking any blame for either of Wales’ tries. For both of them he was faced by a three on 1 overlap.

    He did well to even get close to Cuthbert given he had to try and cover three players

    Tipuric’s play for the second would have beaten any winger in the world

    More to the point would be asking where the fullback and/or cover tackler was for the tries.

    Brown was England’s best back by some distance and deserves at least a 6.5

    1. Pablito, agree with every word of that. As an ex-Wing, it infuriates me when wings find themselves on the end of an “underlap” in defence and end up getting the blame.

      If anyone was to blame for the second, it was Barritt, although I would place praise on Tipuric before being too harsh on Barritt.

    2. I noticed that the cover tackler for the second try was a “defensively excellent” diving brad barrit, left sprawled on the floor, clutching at nothing. to be far at least he got back and tried! Brown was not at fault either, lack of numbers in support. Wales went 80m in 3 phases.

      1. have to agree with all of the lads above. Brown did outstandingly well to get anywhere near cuthbert in both situations. not only did Brown show a great defensive understanding. but his pace to get over to cuthbert was good too.

        in both of those situations if cuthbert hadnt have scored, there would have been problems. it was simply wales being clinical and finishing their scoring chances that they had created.

    3. I agree with you i thought under the circumstances Brown and Robshaw are the only players who came away with any credit from the game

  4. Thought Parling was the best player on the team and given the shambles going on around him should be higher. I would have had him as a 7. Also thought Brown played reasonably well and deserves a higher mark. Goode seems high to me. I think him, Ashton and Care have played themselves out of the team.

  5. Harsh on Brown, Parling, Robshaw, Youngs (T) and Goode.

    Yes, Goode! I thought he played well.

    It is very well to criticise him for not breaking tackles, but seriously, how many players have broken Welsh tackles this 6 nations – particularly when they are coming up in such a well organised kick chase. I don’t believe that he lost a single one of the breakdowns he set up when returning the kicks – mainly due to the fact that he bought time for his support before taking the contact.

    1. If you are an international full back running a ball back the faster you run the more of you own players are on side and also if you do happen to look up and see a tight head prop in front of you stuttering to a halt and waiting for a tackle isn’t what you expect.

      The stats show he was top carrier, all he did in my opinion was transport the ball back to the Welsh defensive line and set up a ruck to recycle some ball with the Welsh completely organised. A Halfpenny or Hogg he is not!

        1. Foden at his best, brown when at 15, Kearney, Hogg, halfpenny. What do they all have in common? They run hard and fast at the gaps. Goode runs up to the defence, then decided to do a little 1-2 step and then has to duck, because whoever is in front of him has kept coming.

          He simply isn’t fast enough. A few people have commented on brown not being able to worry an international defence (something I disagree with). Well if brown cant, then Goode hasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell!

          1. Ok, well I didn’t expect to be inundated with support on that perspective, so I guess we will have to differ on these perspectives.

            I don’t recall Hogg bursting through the Welsh chase – in fact, I recall him rather struggling after two good games in the lead up to the Welsh game.

            He may get more points for “running fast” and “trying harder”, but really, is the end result any different?

    2. Sorry, but every time he had the ball he stuttered into contact. Useless. He stopped, lost momentum and then got tackled every time. Didn’t even look like he was going to break a tackle or provide any forward momentum in the tackle for the forwards to drive onto. Look at the difference with Halfpenny and he’s not exactly large but he does hit the covering line at pace.

      1. Well I am not suggesting he is a better Full-back than Halfpenny – for my money, one of the stand-out players of the tournament.

  6. Ashton managed a couple of pretty big tackles (from what I remember) that might justify a 3 rather than a 1.5. That aside just another in a long string of pointless appearances from Chris. SL made the point on 5Live that you’ve got to pick your moment to debut new players like Wade and Varndell. If that time hasn’t already been and gone, it is definitely now. No chance of any English wingers going to Australia (very few England players are likely to go in my view) so Argentina tour will be where we see a new look for the English back 3. Hopefully.

    Agree that Brown did well for himself, nobody could have shut down those Welsh tries single-handedly. I’d give him a 6, maybe 6.5, which is about what I’d give Parling.

    My idea for what SL could pick in an ideal world, based on his current restrictions (so no French players unfortunately. If Sheridan can’t play for England in some of their fixtures for reasons other than injury then see no reason to pick him at all).

    1. Corbs
    2. T Youngs (even when he has a poor match he’s better than Hartley)
    3. Cole
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Croft
    7. Robshaw (don’t see the dedicated 7 argument as any more valid now than it was after NZ or Scotland games)
    8. Morgan
    9. B Youngs
    10. Burns
    11. Strettle
    12. 36
    13. Tuilagi
    14. Sharples
    15. Brown
    16. M Vunipola
    17. Lawes
    18. B Vunipola
    19. Johnson
    20. Dickson
    21. Farrell
    22. Wade
    23. May

      1. What’s Mako Vunipola, a winger?

        You’re correct about the hooker part though. Replace Lawes with Doran-Jones then.

  7. So now that’s all over, and the scores are out this would be my team for the next England game.

    1. Corbisiero (if fit, Vunipola if not)
    2. Youngs
    3. Cole (still our best option)
    4. Launchbury
    5. Parling
    6. Wood
    7. Robshaw
    8. Morgan
    9. Youngs
    10 Burns
    11. May (or Strettle on recent form)
    12. Twelvetrees
    13. Tomkins
    14. Wade
    15. Brown

    16. Hartley
    17. Vunipola (if Corbisiero is fit)
    18. Wilson (can’t see beyond him and Cole)
    19. Lawes
    20. B. Vunipola
    21. Dickson (Karl – playing better than Care for Quins)
    22. Farrell (can cover centre and FH)
    23. Eastmond

    I think the forwards have done a good job, and with Morgan in the pack they were a different squad. I’ve left Croft out for Billy V though.
    I think Barritt, Tuilagi, Goode, and Ashton all need a break, and it’s time to see more attacking options. Twelvetrees has the nouse to organise a defence now he’s been involved with the squad, and he plays with Burns regularly. Tomkins brings another creative pair of hands to the midfield and I believe him and Twelvetrees would make a decent pairing. Farrell on the bench could move to centre or FH, but Eastmond is the key man off the bench. He’s already played centre and wing for Bath, and I could see him step in at FB if required.

    1. My 23 is very similar:
      – I would keep Tuilagi for Tomkins. He’s just played his worst game for us by far, but he’s played some good ones as well and does offer something we need in attack. Tomkins & Tuilagi may be a combination worth looking at as I think Tomkins offloading to Tuilagi could create some real midfield havoc.
      – I’m not 100% sold on K. Dixon so think I would probably go with Care, but if Simpson can keep his form I think his pace gives us a real option off the bench.
      – Eastmond, I can see him being an incredible half back, so hope Bath keep moving him “in”. Would like to see him make the England sqaud after Bath have worked out his best position and played him there a bit, so maybe a few months away so I would go with Foden on the bench rather than Eastmond.

  8. I would give Brown and Robshaw an extra mark, thought they were both reasonable. Completely outplayed, but reasonable.

    The scrum, the breakdown and the gain line are 3 areas that I think we can sort out relatively easily provided we get the selection right. Unless Lancaster is a machiavellian genius, and decided a battering was important in the long term development of the team, the selection was abysmal. With the right selection I don’t think we would have won the game or the championship as Wales were too good, but it wouldn’t have been a capitulation. We have the players to fix the scrum, breakdown and gain line battle areas so I’m too worried about this.

    The area that I’m really concerned about is our attack. We have played 17 (of the 42 games before the next RWC) gaames under Lancaster. Take out the game against Fiji who are not a test at the moment and we have scored 4 back 3 tries in 16 games under Lancaster. If there was ever a period in English rugby history with a more impotent attack I either wasn’t born for it or wasn’t awake for it. It shows no sign of getting better so do not agree with the “right track” assessment. Our attack was crap last year, and we still scored more tries than this year. We can’t afford to persist with a bunch of players that can’t create or finish an opportunity, have no pace and pose no threat to the opposition.

    – Ashton needs to go back to Sarries, start scoring again and learn to tackle. He has the potential, but I wouldn’t keep him in the EPS unless he gets on a hot streak in the remainder of the season.
    – Goode has to go. Far too ponderous to be an international full back. I think he’s a potentially good fly half who unfortunately got moved to full back.
    – Brown – stays as a full back.
    – Barritt – We have to learn to defend without him, he doesn’t have the pace, size, power or skill to offer anything in attack.
    – Tuilagi – Stays, doesn’t offer everything we need but at least has something we need.
    – Farrell – If he could make the same progress on his pace that Brown did after working with a sprint coach he wouldn’t be electric, but could at least pose some threat. There’s been enough progress on his passing game for him to stay for now.
    – Youngs – Keep.

    By the end of this years AIs I think we’ve got to have worked out who out of Wade, May, Burns, 36, JJ, Tomkins, Eastmond and Varndell can really make the step up and hold down a shirt. I’ve included Varndell as it is a long time since he had a chance, he’s not had a chance under Lancaster and along with Wade is the only winger to be remotely prolific this season.

  9. Matt,I agree that we are certainly not on the ‘right track’.Yes the teams problems can be fixed,but it already feels like we have wasted a lot of valuable time.It’s very worrying that the majority of people had long voiced concerns over Ashton and Goode’s suitability,as well as playing Brown on the wing (please tell me SL isn’t looking to try Tuilagi there),along with three 6’s for a back row. And yet the management failed to respond.Is this because they felt that this truly was a winning formula? If so then the enormity of defeat in Cardiff reflects the size of that mistake.

  10. A year ago Lancaster had the excuse of a developing squad for all of England’s sins. It’s no longer an excuse and it’s especially not an excuse for playing players in positions where they don’t belong. Within the remit of the EPS, He had the opportunity to call up injury replacements and there are plenty available in the EPS and Saxons, but he chose to play people out of position. It’s rookie

    I’m not going to argue that Robshaw is a 6 not a 7. He plays there a lot for Quins and for my money he does a good job at 7. However, Tom Wood at 8 is a joke. You have number 8s, you use them, especially when it’s clear from his first game that he hadn’t adapted. After Ireland, it became an easy position to pressure and pester England and Italy and Wales did a good job of making it difficult.
    Similarly, Mike Brown is not a winger. He’s quick and looks good with ball in hand, but defensively, he has no idea and I’ve been saying this since the Autumn tests. Often he’s not drifting in the defensive line and the other day he was guilty of commiting to tackle no one in a 2 on 1. He’s a fullback, there for cover tackles and has not adapted to tackling on the wing.

    I sometimes think that the opposition are looking at more videos of England’s performances than the England staff are. If Lancaster truly believes this is a developing squad, then he should be developing players and not playing them out of position.

    My other gripe is the centres. It’s been said by a million pundits for at least 5 years. England need balance. Look at New Zealand/South Africa/Wales/pretty much anyone successful at the minute. Manuand Barrit are good centres, particularly on crash ball. However, smart distribution is also needed in the middle. Neither Manu or Barrit are good at this playmaker role. They are good and have their uses, but you can’t have both on the pitch or the move dies in the centres. I think what looked good in England’s only good game (Scotland) was having Billy Twelvetrees run lines and distributes. It takes a lot of pressure off the fly half and adds a dimension. So why hasn’t Billy started again in the six nations in order to develop his talent?

  11. Just look at the last selection for England. Starting XV and bench. Forwards are far too lightweight, bar mako of course. And where in the backs is a dangerous strike runner? Brown deserves the 15 shirt but he’s never going to be as effective as foden coming into the line at pace. Think England now need to build a backline around tuilagi. This dependence on him to make something out of nothing every game isn’t working. He needs different options around him. Twelvetrees or Eastmond inside him and a back three with blistering pace. The type of pace that makes an opposition team think, “hell, if we miss him just once, he’s gone and scored.” We have plenty of options, varndell, foden, wade, Jonny may, Elliot Daley. They’re all real speed merchants that would finish every half chance they got. I like the idea of mobility and consistency but apart from tuilagi and Morgan there isn’t anyone who can smash defences up. Think we need to find one other big ball carrier to support Morgan in the pack and back tuilagi and Farrell with three hopefully four flyers that they can distribute or offload too. That would cause havoc. Since we couldn’t match Wales physically we should have tried to play them off the park. Can’t help but keep coming back to Eastmond. He is scarily like billy-whiz and my lord we need someone who can beat defenders like robinson used to.

  12. This is what the (injury free)team should be in my opinion:

    Mako, Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Parling, Wood, Robshaw, Morgan; Youngs, Farrell, 36, Manu, Wade, , Brown.

    Mako far better than Marler. Wood and Robshaw work well together and while neither are specialist 7’s, they both have great engines on them and one of the two will be at almost every breakdown throughout the match. Play an 8 at 8! If Morgan is injured I’d whack in Billy V. As said previously we need a playmaker at 12, Barritt is a terrific defender and good at the crash ball (but we have Manu for that) and 36 isn’t exactly a small guy so I’m sure defensively he is sound, on top of that his distribution skills would benefit manu and the outside backs. Wade is an electric winger, not sure who I’d put on the other wing atm maybe Biggs/May/Ashton if he finds form and learns to tackle. Brown has to be put at fullback, when he was moved there saturday he broke the welsh line with his first run. Goode is a fly half who was stupidly moved to fullback by sarries. I would suggest he moves to a club that would be willing to try him at 10 as he’ll never play there at sarries with farrell there.

  13. We were well beaten in the second half against Italy and we failed to learn from that. The forwards need to win some good ball and the backs not kick away aimlessly when we do get some. Marler has struggled in the scrum most weeks and around the field he has been quiet. Mako is a far better option. Youngs is solid in the open play, tackling and carrying and on balance worth the risk in the line outs. No other english hooker offers anything similar. Cole has been disappointing. But again no real options. Second row lightweight. Back row. Well is robshaw a 6, 7 or 10. He may act as first receiver for quins but it is over used by England and is easily defended. At 9 there is a lot of competition but no world class performances. Though not easy to do well when the pack are being shredded. Farrell can kick the goals but can he get the packs moving or make breaks. We don’t make use of our backs. Barritt is solid, I agree, but you need ball skills at 12. Manu is powerful but he needs the ball, preferably running close off short balls. The ball got to him no more than 3 times through a passing move and he knocked on the best one. He is worth keeping but must be used for what he’s good at. He is definitely not a wing. Totally out of place there in last 15 mins against Wales. Back 3 have been poor compared to all other teams. Ashton has lost his form, Goode tries hard and uses his ball skills when he can but not solid or strong enough when compared to halfpenny. Brown is worth another run at fullback but as a wing he’s not got it. There are, as others say, plenty of wing options. Use them.

  14. First of all, any England side refereed
    By Walsh starts 10 points down. Secondly, England’s tactics were not to contest the breakdown against two top class open sides. The one time they did, Vunipola forced a penalty for holding on. This was a disastrous coaching call for which Lancaster must take the blame. Wales got momentum every time they got the ball. Lastly, if the much maligned Barritt had been faced with the two overlaps that Tuilagi butchered he would have been able to take and give a pass, like any centre in the second tier league. All Tuilagi offers is bully power bludgeoning, and international defences simply double-team him. He can’t catch pass or kick and I wouldn’t trust him to tackle on the wing. He also behaved badly in New Zealand. There are also several better wings than Brown and very many better than Ashton. There are fewer better full backs than Brown, and Foden. For Lancaster, 8/10 for team spirit, 6/10 for selection, 5/10 for tactics.

    1. Firstly, defence is the job of Andy Farrell, so surely it is he to blame for the no challenging policy, not SL?

      Also your comment about even Barritt being able to take and give. It’s funny you mention that, because he managed to blow a simple “take and give” situation in the Italy game. In attack Barritt is a poor man’s manu. Both lack the ball handling skills, but Manu is at least a huge physical threat. Play Manu with a centre who actually does pass (someone like 12Ts) and things get a lot more dangerous. 12Ts can distribute, or Manu can bash. At the moment people can double team Manu because they know that Barritt is not a passing threat.

      1. Lancaster has said it is his job to set out how the team will play and the coaches job to ensure it is implemented. If there was a concious decision to surrender the breakdown (despite our best 2 wins/performances coming when we dominated the breakdown) it is a baffling one!

        1. I could be imagining this, but isn;t Walsh famously harsh with England at the breakdown, most of the time? Would be too risky to try and win ball in defence (as shown by him pinging Vunipola?)

          I’m going to stick to my guns and say Brown should stay on the wing for England. Easily enough talent to play there, and useful as a second fullback. Goode needs to be replaced and Ashton needs to seriously consider his future at this level, imo.

          I can’t fault the result at the end of the day, Wales were just awesome in every aspect unfortunately.

          On the plus though, I think this could be the result this England team (and management) need in all fairness. At least they now have a feel for getting thrashed, and failure is part of success in any part of life. Let’s just see how it’s dealt with this time.

          1. gordon, i am interested to see who you would pick at 15?

            i agree that brown has been pretty good on the wing, and goode needs to be replaced by an actual fullback (i agree with comments made that goode is a flyhalf who got lost at 15)

            i am a fan of the 2 fullbacks idea, but i would go for brown at 15, and Foden at 11. but like i say, would be interested to see who you pick?

          2. Simo, I’d love to say Ben Foden, when injury free.

            It’s tricky as there are too many quality wingers in England atm and no where near as many stand out fullbacks – so in all honesty, I couldn’t give a thorough answer to that (let alone the fact that due to my own playing history I’ve got more interested in the watching the front 8 when watching a match)

            The thing that strikes me about Brown is his overall threat, and fearlessness. He seems to hold his own on the wing as well as the other contenders so I feel it would be a waste to have him playing 15 instead of the second full back / wing position.

          3. interesting that you dont think that there are too many decent fullbacks.

            although i am not his fan, Goode is second to none when it comes to wet weather play (see the ireland game) – although i could not justify picking him in the hope it rains…

            We still have the likes of Brown, Foden, Daly, May, Abendanon, Miller, Tait, Chisholm, Lindsay-Hauge, Homer, the Arscott brothers and i am sure i have left a few off.

          4. The NZ and Scottish breakdwown performances weren’t so much down to getting our hands on the ball in the tackle area, it was the aggressive clear out of the likes of McCaw so they couldn’t get their grubby mitts anywhere near it. This is exactly what we were needing to be doing on Saturday, don’t worry about the ball, just get Tips and Warburton out of there and the ball will look after itself. If it was a tactic to just let Wales dominate the break down it wasn’t the finest idea we’ve ever come up with. We were passive at the breakdown against Aus and SA and lost, we were dynamic against NZ and Scotland and bettered Ireland at their own game and won.

  15. As a final comment, what I would say is that we are better than the Welsh game just as we weren’t as good as the AB game so no need for wholesale changes. We are better than we were 12 months ago and that is progress. Took me a couple of days to get it all in perspective. Hopefully the summer tour will enable some more players to stick their hands up for selection.

    1. Agree we don’t need a completely new team. Whether we are in a better position than last year is a debatable point. Last year we got better with every performance, a stodgy start but some gritty wins, a creditable close loss to Wales, a big step up against France and a demolition of Ireland. The tendency of deteriorating with time together that was a hallmark of the Johnson era seemed to be behind us. The upward trend continued through the summer tour and the team got better with time together in the autumn.

      This year each performance was worse than a previous one, you can count them down of 10. 8 Scotland, 7 Ireland, 6 France, 5 Italy, 4 Wales. The last 2 performances have been our worst under Lancaster.

      The concerns I have right now are:
      – Very poor selection (and not correcting previous poor selection decisions) has been the primary reason for the reduction in performance.
      – Not understanding that the intensity at the breakdown and go-forward ball were the reasons we were good against NZ and Scotland and therefore not being able to replicate it in subsequent games.
      – The continuing blunt attack. 4 tries from our back 3 players in 16 games (excluding the opposed training run of Fiji) is just abysmal.

      I think this years summer tour is now critical in our development, 2 really tough 50:50 tests with a full strength sides. Selection is going to be really difficult, we’ll be missing probably 5-8 first team regulars, but a fair slice of those who remain can’t (or shouldn’t) be figuring in the long term plans. Given we are behind the curve I don’t want to see us go to Argentina to try and grind out 2 wins without advancing our game plan or focussing or compromising player evaluation and development. I would rather we use the tour as a development tour so wouldn’t want to see some of the “regulars” who have fallen short racking up some more caps at the expense of the likes of Wade, May, Tomkins, Kvesic, Burns, JJ, Eastmond, Kruis, Daly, etc

  16. very interesting to see that Adam Jones has come out in defence of Marler and Cole.

    Credit to the big fella, he truly does live up to his reputation of being a great bloke.

    With regards to Jones, i think the game against England showed that he is the premier tighthead in the British and Irish isles. But not only that, i get the impression that he us a great tourist.

    he should be pretty handy in being a mentor with some of the younger props who are likely to tour.

  17. I’d say jones may be the premier tight head in world rugby at the moment. I still like Clive wood wards idea of packing a backline with as much attacking firepower as you can and unleashing it on teams. He says the only reason he picked hill and back in the back row was for what they offered in attack. They were too small to be massively attritional in international rugby.

    1. Personally I rate the Johnston brothers as the top 2, but certainly the debate of whether it’s Cole or Jones as the top dog in the NH has been settled decisively.

  18. Rowntree has said in a video on the RFU website that he is seeking clarification from the IRB regarding some of the decisions at scrum and ruck time… Possibly giving weight to the ideas that A) Walsh told England one thing then did another (not suggesting he didn’t do the same for Wales!) and B) that they were not happy with some of the decisions made.

    1. Just watched that, bottom line is that once a scrum gets the upper hand the penalties tend to go their way whether they are all technically correct or not. Would prefer to see the energies put into making the England scrum the dominant one rather than why penalties were given against it when it was going backwards.

      Appreciate it’s only a short interview but in general I didn’t think it was a particularly great assessment of what we need to be doing next.

  19. Watched the game on saturday and what a game it was nail bitting stuff. Delighted to see wales get the win nice to see the team that actualy trys to play a bit of rugby win. England as they always have thought brute force would win them the game all you have to do was look at the teams to see the different aproaches to the match.

    England played with effectivly 3 blindside flankers.

    Wales two opensides and mobile 8.

    Great weekend for wales and england both teams got what they deseverd in terms of ambition.

  20. The pretence of being gracious losers who give “credit to Wales” didn’t last long then … http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/rugbyunion/international/england/9941194/England-unhappy-with-referee-Steve-Walshs-performance-in-defeat-by-Wales-as-they-report-official-to-IRB.html

    I’ve lost all respect for that England coaching team now. All of the scrum penalties were wrong, the turnover that led to our try was wrong, the breakdown was incorrectly reffed… SL and his back room staff need to grow some. I fully endorse taking things up with refs for clarity but to collaborate with the press to create a “we wuz robbed” article is the lowest of the low. I wouldn’t even expect this from Wenber (well, actually I would) but to hear pro international coaches expressing such sour grapes through the media is massively dissapointing.

    All of that “we’ll learn lessons from this” rubbish he was spouting when the only lesson he intends his players to learn is to understand that the ref screwed them over. True colours revealed now – he and his team find it impossible to believe that Wales outplayed them so now want everyone else in the world to know it was all Walsh’s fault as well.

    I hope he also gets the Eng v Fra result, won with an offside try, reversed as well.

    1. Really disappointing, no issue with them making the representation and seeking clarification, but keep your mouths shut FFS.

      Whilst Walsh didn’t do us any favours I would much rather Lancaster and team are focussing on the real reasons for the defeat.
      – No ball carrying 8, in fact no 8 at all.
      – A 6 with a phobia of breakdowns up against Warburton
      – A lightweight tight 5 and replacing your best ball carrying forward with Marler
      – A back 3 that can not score a try
      – The inability of the team to cross the gainline, if Tuilagi doesn’t get across no one gets across
      – The inability to run a strike move
      – The inability to counter attack
      – The absence of a game plan (or being able to implement one). I thought I new what the style of English rugby was now all about after AB and Scotland performances, now I have no idea what they are trying to achieve.

      Our biggest issue was selection and coaching. Solutions to the these issues will not be found at the IRB. If he isn’t finding the answers soon he’s running a serious risk of a group stage exit for a host nation.

    2. Did you express similar disappointment with the Wales coaching team when they did the same thing during the summer tour of Australia?

      1. Robbo, I don’t recall the details of what the Welsh team said about the refs after those matches. I’ve provided a link to the English teams statements so if you can do the same for the Welsh ones I’ll read them and let you know what I think?

        1. Edwards: “I really think I’m going to have to work on our tackler getting back up on his feet and competing for the ball because it’s clearly evident you are allowed to do that down here whereas maybe where we are you would get penalised for that”

          “We were asked to roll away and we rolled away but their tackler was getting up and trying to make a nuisance over the ball and I thought that made a massive difference in who won that game.”

          1. Geat, that’s poor form from Edwards. I don’t understand what he’s doing giving quotes like that to the media. If he’s got issues with the ref then address them through the channels – don’t whine when you’ve lost. Frustrating as a fan as I have some fond memories of those games (we lost, but it was oh so close) but now to read that (I often read the media less when we lose, too painful) it takes some of the gloss off the performances. Not good enough.

          2. I know what you mean, Brighty. Personally, I wish they’d just all shut up – but in these days of 24/7 media and the constant need to fill pages with stories, journos are all fishing for something to write. You never know if these comments are made off-the-cuff, rather than in formal settings like press conferences.

            I’m pretty sure Woodward had very strict rules about engaging with the media, be good if all teams had them in place to avoid potential embarrassment.

          3. Brighty’s Australian cousin had plenty to say about it as well ….

            http://tensport.com.au/news/theroar/Rugby-Union-Wales-in-denial-about-their-Australian-results.htm

            We shouldn’t forget that Wales did lose a close game where they were arguably a better team, but as soon as you start whinging about a ref you are turning into a victim which is completely the wrong attitude for a coach in my opinion.

            But when you’ve just succumbed to a record defeat the ref is probably about 10th on the reasons for the loss, deal with it quietly.

    3. Brighty, I think you are getting a little muddled. I don’t believe anyone is asking for a reversal of the result. They are asking for law clarification, which seems not only reasonable, but necessary if the application of laws is not clear.

      I don’t read any of this as being ungracious either, but admittedly I can be a little too objective sometimes.

      1. Blub, I am completely happy with a technical request for clarification through the ref review process. That is normal and proper.

        This isn’t simply that. For one the English team have decided to involved the media in this so it’s now beyond an official request for clarification, it is a clear statement to their fans and the wider rugby world that they’re not happy with how that game was reffed. Further, with the use of phrases like “big game momentum changing decisions”, the quotes from cowardly sources who apparently know for a fact that Wales collapsed the scrum and then the hilarious assertion from Rowntree that because he coaches is boys to scrum straight they couldn’t possibly have done anything else, England are clearly indicating that the Welsh win was obtained by dubious means ergo the result would have been different if not for the referee. It is the discussion of all of this in the open media that is the shameful aspect.

        So I’m clear – submitting a damming report on Walsh is fine, telling the whole world he swung the momentum of the game in Wales’ favour is just being an ungracious loser.

        1. Yes, you are quite correct. It is not right to be discussing this openly – it certainly should be kept indoors.

          My point is not that however. It is that your implication that (a) England/anyone is looking for a reversal of the result is not based on anything factual, and (b)England/anyone is suggesting that Walsh’s interpretation and application of the laws was responsible for the result.

          This is not “clear”. Dependant upon ones mindset itt can be inferred of course, but that is entirely different.

          1. Blub, my comment about “reversal of result” was an exasperated quip to highlight the irony of England bleating about this in the media but benefiting from poor refereeing in the Fra match. I agree they’re not trying to have the result changed.

            As for whether they are implying his performance changed things I agree it’s down to how you read it. I read Lancaster’s reference to “big game momentum changing decision” as him saying that this decision changed the momentum. As the momentum was clearly with Wales at the end I can assume he means it was with England before that (as it had changed). So if he thinks momentum was with England before that then he’s implying that without that decision momentum would not have switched from England to Wales ergo Wales would not have won the match. All interpretation – the fact such an interpretation can be made speaks volumes for me i.e. we should not even be having this debate but he has brought it out.

            As Lancaster said after the match, it’s often in defeat that you learn the measure of the man. I agree with that, disappointed with what this has taught me about Lancaster.

          2. Brighty. I think the main reasons that England are making it public are A) to once again highlight that there is a problem with the scrum in the modern game (something that I don’t think anyone can deny) and B) to let it be known that they accept the scrum was unacceptable from an England standpoint. Rowntree is about to take the lions scrum to Australia, and he will endeavour to make sure that the right thing is being done. This will mean asking for clarification on what England players did wrong at the scrum. If the response from the IRB is “actually nothing” then obviously bigger questions will be asked. But if the IRB can give clear reasoning behind the decisions that Walsh made, then it is a positive exercise for England.

            All of the coaches have admitted that Wales deserved the win, and were the better team. If England feel that Walsh had any form of an impact on the outcome, it would have been on the scoreline, not the result.

            Also I think that you are over emphasising the impact of the words “change in momentum”. After all it was 9-3 at half time, then it ended up 30-3… To me the momentum was always with Wales, but they definitely changed the intensity of it in the second half.

            Letting the public know that England are seeking answers for what they did wrong isn’t a problem. If in the process they find out that in fact it was the ref in the wrong, then fine, but I highly doubt that will happen (we all know the IRB are going to bring the wagons in round Walsh here)

      1. Think the media has blown this into something its not – as has Brighty

        But Matt and Geat, with their timely interventions, have pointed out that England are hardly alone in questioning the refereeing after games.

        Personally, I’m pleased its all out in the open. Hopefully the IRB’s response will be as well. How else will these problems get sorted?

        No matter your opinion on who was doing what in the scrum, so little went to completion without a penalty that it was farcical

  21. so its back to the normal england sporting model. have two brilliant games, beat the best in the world, raise everyones hopes, muddle through 3 games relying on luck and reputation, and then thud back to reality buylosing emphatically to a team that has proved a decent level of conistency…. how people didnt see this coming i dont know.

    this article may prove a good dose of realism,

    http://carsayer.wordpress.com/2013/03/20/post-six-nations-delerium/

    1. Actually I can see reasoning behind the welsh players admitting this, so I am inclined to believe that it may be the case.

      After all, the game is won, the result won’t be changed (and rightly so). But if the welsh accept that Walsh is awful when it comes to the scrum (and credit to them for manipulating it so that they gained further dominance) and they voice it as well as England doing so, then there is a chance Walsh will not be involved when the lions go to Aus.

      Ignore all the selection debates for a moment and accept that all 3 welsh front rowers will tour (at least tour if not start the tests), then the lions will want to use the scrum as a weapon. Having a ref who does not understand it (and has a negative past with England and the lions) could easily count against the lions.

      England and Wales (the two countries who have provided all the lions coaches) may be doing something more beneficial for the lions than themselves here…

      1. Not sure it will be an issue for the Lions, surely Walsh wouldn’t be considered a neutral ref as he’s ARU?

        To be honest I think we are looking at symptoms rather than cause. In the majority of games where one side has gets a scrum advantage the penalties will go their way because the ref knows they are the stronger scrum, so they look for infringements in the weaker one. The causes were twofold, i) having a weaker scrum and ii) the continuing farce of scrummaging in general and the hit lottery.

  22. Domestic refs do tend to take charge of the warmup and midweek games, so chances are we will see Walsh appear at least once. (He has after all been voted best ref in Aus the past two years I think)

    Regarding your comments on the scrum. If the rumour are true, and the welsh have admitted to collapsing, then Walsh was looking for English infringements, not seeing them, but still penalising then anyway, this is most likely due to A) a misunderstanding of the scrum and B) the atrocity that is the modern day scrum.

    1. Walsh will be doing the BaaBaas’ game in Honkers; all the games in Oz will have neutral refs (Test refs are Pollock, Joubert &

      Poite, by which time the hosts hope to have won the series).

  23. Refs don’t have sky plus to do instant replays at every set piece. The side going backwards will always get the short straw. England staff shouldn’t be gettin like Alex Ferguson, and talking down refs in the press, there’s proper channels to go thru if they have issues. I would ban players talking to media too, no place for it. I also hate the booing during place kicking, and during the haka. Call me old fashioned but we can’t let this great game go down the route of football. On the pitch in school I was taught to be gracious in defeat, and humble in victory. I’m welsh and hated the chants of ‘easy easy’ etc. England will come back better. Decisions go both ways.

  24. Yes I hated that chanting and the rest of the stuff you mention too Rob Taff a football habit we could do without also the waving at England fans as some left early , mind you I’ve never left a game early either sitting to the bitter end during some right stuffings , it did pay off well once against Scotland in 2010 .

    1. I stayed until the end. Every humiliating second of it. In fact, I stayed for the ceremony as well (for the sake of my Welsh wife). Best birthday EVER*

      * May contain sarcasm.

    2. in fairness, the chanting and waving and whatever can simply just be water off a ducks back.

      i remember when i went to a game in Aus as a youngster.

      It was not long after the ’03 world cup final. england got stuffed by about 50 points, and it was an embarrassment.

      we stayed to the end (my dad and i) and as we were leaving some young Aussies began to yell down from their seats at us. Boasting an what not.

      Little did they know (and little did i know too) that my old man had a t-shirt on, under his jacket, with a picture of “the drop goal”. dad walked out smiling, the young lads had no come back.

      if you are going to be foolish enough to start hurling banter, you had best be prepared for some to come back your way, otherwise you end up looking like the fool.

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