Six Nations 2018: England Player Ratings v Ireland

Eliot Daly

A 15-24 defeat to Ireland, and third consecutive loss, meant England finished the 2018 Six Nations in fifth – their lowest final standing in the tournament since 1983, when they took the wooden spoon in the then Five Nations.

Ireland were deserved victors and earned their grand slam, while England were again seriously underwhelming. Here is how the players rated.

1 Mako Vunipola
England’s primary ball carrier yet again, Mako was always willing but seems to be having less impact with each game. Scrum was more solid on his side and won a penalty against Tadhg Furlong. The Lions tour has definitely caught up with him – looks exhausted. 6

2 Dylan Hartley
Individually, a solidly average performance from the England skipper. However, England definitely lacked leadership: free kicks given away at the lineout and scrum, while England’s maul is still a complete shambles. Was the poor overthrow at the lineout his fault or a confused call? Replaced on 58 minutes. 5

3 Kyle Sinckler
Almost the opposite of Dan Cole’s performances – in both the good and bad sense. Made a huge number of tackles and carries (although not always making much ground) but the scrum stability suffered and gave away a team-high three penalties. 5

4 Maro Itoje
Better physicality from Itoje in the tight and carried the ball more, although with mixed results: went on one nice rangey run, but was too high in contact and often got held up. Another player who looks in need of a good holiday and conceded two soft penalties, including a frustrating one for grabbing Iain Henderson in the air. 5.5

5 George Kruis
A surprise inclusion for Joe Launchbury, Kruis certainly had an industrious game, and ended the game England’s top tackler, but was guilty of several errors, made a couple of sloppy knock-ons and little impact when he carried. Ran the lineout ok, but takes some blame for that confused over-throw. 5

6 Chris Robshaw
Robshaw looked much more at home on the blindside this week and, alongside Haskell, helped England stop bleeding turnovers. Did well with the ball in hand – a useful link player and regularly stole a few extra metres. For me, England’s player of the tournament alongside Owen Farrell. 7

7 James Haskell
Got through a mountain of tackles and helped ensure England weren’t as embarrassed at the breakdown in previous weeks, which was a plus. Brought some needed physical abrasiveness and made some big hits. Still feels like a stop gap on the openside. 6

8 Sam Simmonds
Very disappointing from Simmonds. The complete opposite of his opening weekend fireworks against Italy. Really struggled to make an impact with the ball in hand and the question remains, is he big and powerful enough to be effective at number eight against the best sides? Made way for Don Armand on 66 minutes. Long term future for England looks likely to be on the flanks or as an impact replacement. 4

9 Richard Wigglesworth
Brought exactly what we expected – a solid kicking game and game management, but little creative spark or attacking threat. Is he really our third-choice scrum half going into a world cup? 5

10 Owen Farrell
The definition of ‘mixed bag’ from Farrell this week: his early penalty for a late challenge kick-started the sequence which brought Ireland’s first try; he looked threatening himself with the ball, but also failed to get his backline firing; and while he put a brilliant kick through to set up Daly’s try, he also leathered one straight into Haskell’s head and missed all three of his kicks at goal. Very disappointing given his usual standards. 6

11 Eliot Daly
England’s best player. Such a balanced runner, Daly scored an excellent brace, regularly threatened the Irish line and looked like the player most likely to spark something. I increasingly think he is wasted on the wing however, and would be far more effective at either 15 or 13. 7.5

12 Ben Te’o
Brought in to add physicality and a gain-line presence to the backline but showed little of it and ended up outplayed by Bundee Aki. The Lion still looks rusty – was he up to full match fitness after such a long lay-off? Doubts over whether he has the distribution game for an international inside centre. 4.5

13 Jonathan Joseph
Completely anonymous yet again. The outside centre should usually one of the team’s most lethal attackers, yet Joseph managed six runs for a combined return of one metre. Usually so reliable in defence, he missed two tackles as well. Was the man to be sacrificed on 55 minutes for George Ford. Whether he is not thriving in the current system or it is a loss of form, I don’t know. Poor. 4

14 Jonny May
Scored a last minute try but otherwise well shackled by the Irish defence, although rarely got the ball in a good attacking position. I am also starting to think May lacks the footwork to be a world-class winger – he has pace, but he rarely manages to wrong-foot a player set in defence. Carried a few times valiantly into heavy traffic but to no effect. 6

15 Anthony Watson
Sadly only lasted 33 minutes before a nasty ankle injury forced him off, but in that time Watson had little chance to show his attacking ability and was beaten to Johnny Sexton’s high bomb, from which Garry Ringrose scored Ireland’s first. After his yellow card in Paris, this has been a tough couple of weeks for the new fullback. 4

Mike Brown entered the fray first and was solid. Turned and beaten for pace for Jacob Stockdale’s record try but a lovely offload for Daly’s second try. The rest of the bench was emptied in a last-ditch attempt to wrest the game back for England but to no avail – good to see Don Armand return, but Jamie George looks well short of his best. Another casualty of Lions fatigue? Ford was probably the pick and showed some nice touches. 5

How do you think the players rated?

By Henry Ker

40 thoughts on “Six Nations 2018: England Player Ratings v Ireland

  1. I am not so sure I would have scored the pack so highly. Haskell and Robshaw I agree, but the others would have each gotten less from me. Similarly, with the exception of Daly (who would surely be better at 13?), the backs would also have scored lower.

    If this is the core RWC team, we are in real trouble next year. I can’t see Haskell or Robshaw making many more appearances in the shirt, so I would have only Daly from these 15 players, and I wouldn’t have Brown either.


    1. I think that’s quite a knee-jerk reaction. Many of these players will be back and will perform to that standards we have come to expect. That is IF they are given sufficient time to rest up.
      I would say though that the summer tour needs to include as many players from the fringes as possible. It will be a baptism of fire, but England need more options in a few positions for the WC squad.

    2. Hi Trevor,
      When I initially wrote this, I did have a lot of players on a lower score – the pack particularly were all about a point lower, but I ended up increasing them to reflect that a) this was a very good Ireland side and b) although we were convincingly beaten it wasn’t a total thrashing (for example, akin to the 30-3 defeat to Wales in 2013). I actually thought this was a better performance in many respects than against Scotland and France, but we were up against a better team.

      I would reserve really low scores (the 1s, 2s or 3s) for a really high margin loss, or against a much poorer side.

  2. Surprised to pin 3 penalties against Sinklers name when 1 of those was Robshaw for sure… Sinkler looked to be stealing the ball and Robshaw flopped on top of him knocking him off his feet. I felt that moment summed up England’s breakdown decision making for the 6 nations…

    I’d have Sinkler a point higher. Almost all other pack members potentially a point lower, pretty awful stuff from a pack that looked bullied.

    It also somehow feels generous giving Te’o and JJ 4.5 and 4 respectively. Both were awful.

    Two things that are clear. Farrell at 10 gets his hands on the ball more = good for England. Daly is Englands best back outside of him and needs to be on the ball more = Daly at 15 for SA.

    1. Disagree with you on Farrell.

      I thought he was poor on Saturday. No spark, no imagination. Aside from his kick for the first try and that one flat pass that was great, it was all play by the numbers stuff.

      England looked sharper and more dangerous with Ford on the field.

      Also I’ve decided to blame Farrell entirely for England’s loss. His stupid, thoughtless, childish late hit on Kearney after England had started sharply completely turned the game.

      Instead of a poor kick from Kearney ending up in Daly’s hands with an scattered defence in front of him, it ended up with an Ireland try that England never came back from

      Also his place kicking was v poor.

      1. Oh come on, how can you defend Robshaw’s try-hard for no impact displays and have that view on Farrell? Great to have someone to disagree with though…

        I agree we looked better with Ford on the field, but that was because each time Farrell moved the ball from 10 he has two centres that couldn’t pass. Almost every time Te’o or JJ passed the ball it was behind their man and runs were checked. Awful at the standard I play, let alone test level. I’d like to see him play with a Slade or a Lozowski in the centres and see what his vision can do with someone outside him that can offer the passing game to finish his vision.

        Place kicking was all from out wide – is missing those really an issue?

        And for the first one, never a penalty in a million years. He was at full speed and there was no way in hell he could stop. Worth noting that I hear Wayne Barnes (in his Monday RFU meeting) noted how poor that decision was.

        1. Not just focusing on this weekend’s game, but from watching Angus Gardner referee in 6N/Super Rugby I think he is one of the worst in the world. A really poor understanding of the game and doesn’t seem to enforce many laws properly or consistently.
          The fact there are video clips of TJ Perenara and Aaron Smith explaining the laws of the game to him mid-match is clear indication of this.

          1. I don;t think there are any referees who TJ Perenara or Aaron Smith don’t try to explain (their version) of the laws to!
            I thought he was poor as well – how Aki’s no arms hit was not a yellow I will never know. We’ve seen reds given for less

        2. I was surprised it was a penalty. But Farrell can has too many borderline calls for my taste. Time and place. Lawes has learnt exactly that lesson: there is a time and place for a huge hit, but making the tackle is (more) important.

        3. I think now might be a time for some objectivity regarding Farrell, no? Instead of defending him and trying to belittle anyone who disagrees with you…

      2. Have to disagree with you on Farrell. You can’t really pin the whole defeat on him!? The late tackle penalty was a 50/50 decision which in the Premiership would probably have been nothing, plus Aki would have been yellowed for his shoulder barge on Daly (close to red for hitting Daly’s head).
        If Farrell hadn’t been playing we wouldn’t have scored two of our tries and the scoreline could have been much worse.
        He also made a couple of dummies and breaks through the defence and if we had a better centre partnership to offload to could have been more tries.
        His place kicking was the only thing which let him down in my opinion.
        He is also a player who has played too much rugby in one season!

  3. Simple. Robshaw was clearly the stand out in a generally poor pack. Farrell was wholely part of a giant mess of mediocrity.

    When I have a sec, I’ll go through his stats for all the games. He has been mediocre to poor throughout and as we saw on Sat, anything that looked vaguely inventive for England came once Farrell had been moved from 10.

    I do agree about the centres, you only noticed they were playing when they threw a pass behind someone. However Farrell’s passing looked belaboured rather than crisp. In fact the passing from 9, 10, 12 and 13 was all slow and inaccurate.

    I would give him some leeway seeing as Wiggleworth passes with all the speed of an oncoming glacier, but given they play together normally, I won’t even give him that

    The kicks he missed he would have got 12 month ago and at this level 0 out of 3 for those is a poor return.

    As for the late hit, I suggest you re-watch and tell me what Farrell is doing. There’s no attempt to charge down the kick and if he’s trying to tackle Kearney, it’s a penalty for a no arms tackle. He just runs directly into him with the shoulder.

    I think he could have changed his line but that’s a. subjective and b.moot.

    He also has form for this type of thing which no doubt does not help with the ref’s decision making

    1. Putting that penalty aside (because I didn’t think it was one), I am getting frustrated by Farrell’s tackle stats. The most important thing for the first tackler: get the player on the ground behind the gain line. Let the second man try to jackal, or rip the ball. The quicker the player is on the ground the more time to jackal before the support gets there.

      1. We have seen a decline in the success of the jackal since the changes to the laws. Though Scotland still to it, with varying success, it is largely ineffective.
        Farrell’s job is to reach the ball carrier quickly and slow progress, allowing England to push the opposition back.
        I would also say that the last time England held defense in such high regard for centres, Brad Barrit played. Enough said.

        1. First up, just to be clear, I don’t think England should drop Farrell, but they should work on his tackling.

          Yes there is a decline in the jackal, but that doesn’t mean there is no jackalling. Look at Watson, Barclay, Leavy, Bastareaud. Even Robshaw had some success. But a bit of competition over the ball be in Jackalling or rucking will slow the ball down.
          I am fine with Farrell’s job being to “slow progress”, but I assume he is still expected to make tackles. Espn stats have him making 47 tackles and missing 17 this tournament. At this level that is shockingly bad. Taking Italy and France out of that (who frankly don’t have the most elusive runners) and the numbers are 27 and 14. Maybe England should reassess this approach. At Saracens he has Barritt behind him to smash anything that makes its way past. For England, especially with Ford playing, there is not that luxury.
          Finally, looking at the top 5 teams in the world… you cannot in the current game afford a centre who is not a defensive rock. Especially when the flyhalf is a defensive weakness.

    2. Couldn’t disagree more. I have no doubt Robshaw an average of 15 tackles and hit 20 rucks a game. The issue for me with Robshaw (and I’ve historically been a massive fan/defender of his) is that I couldn’t help feeling those tackles and rucks have become less impactful. He hits people and goes backwards. He hits rucks and loses the contest. That wasn’t happening 18 months ago and for me, now appears undeniable.

      On Farrell – every moment of class through the 6 nations for England involved him. He was at the centre of anything good in attack for England and he was also playing with a shocking pack leaving him constantly on the backfoot. No fly half in world rugby would have done more than Farrell did with the ball he had during this tournament.

      I’m sorry but you can’t blanket 0 from 3 always being awful without noting all three were from the touchline. They are nice to make, not expected to.

  4. So, Ireland were the better side throughout the 6Nations and more specifically last weekend. They looked in control of the game for at least 60 minutes, apart from a brief period of England dominance at the end. Even in that period at the end, England looked like they lacked the incision?/ideas?/composure?/physicality? to score. Despite it being a technical possibility, at no point in the last 20 minutes did I feel as an England fan that it was a realistic possibility that England would win.
    That gives some context.

    So, how do the following fit into that context:
    1) 3 tries apiece – the differenc on the score board was 3 conversions and one penalty. If Farrell had kicked the goals and England lost by 3 points what would we be saying (I know it is a big if)
    3) England player scores, particularly the backs who scored all our tries. I don’t significantly disagree with the above scores – a point here or there.
    3) the match stats (ESPN) – 3 tries a piece, penalties conceded E11-I12, Possession E54%/I46%, Territory E58%/I42%, clean breaks E9/I6, rucks won E98%/I96%, tackles E87%/I90%, turnovers conceded E13/I7, lineouts lost E3/I0.
    2) If you had not watched the game, this looks like it was really close and evenly fought. The most damaging stat for England (and biggest comparative difference) is the turnovers conceded, but that did not stop England being ahead on both possession and territory.

    So in trying to get over the fifth place funk I find myself in, I am left asking: Is this team very close to being very good? Is this something that can be fixed for the summer? Are we being overly critical of much of the team?

    No one expected the breakdown to be sorted in a couple of midweek training sessions, but a few guys back from injury you have (not in order of preference):
    6s – Robshaw, Armand, Mercer, Clifford.
    7s – Haskell, Underhill, B Curry, Simmonds, Clifford
    8s – BV, Hughes, Simmonds, Mercer, Clifford

    Are the backs that bad? a few years back we would be complaining that we only score through our forwards. That doesn’t mean no work is needed:
    – Eddie needs to bring in an attack coach
    – Can someone explain running lines apart from an outside break to our 12 and 13 – straighten the line or out to in. Huw Jones and Bundee Aki stood out for me as running good out to in lines with great effect against France and England respectively. Basteraud created space by running straight and passing.
    – forwards running round the breakdown to give 9 and 10 passing options or just to take the ball at pace (see Ireland)

    But generally, are we being a bit over the top in our criticism?

      1. I enjoyed the essay Mike – good points.

        One thing on the backs scoring our tries, but giving the centres getting low scores above: I have noticed this tournament we seem to score a lot of tries when we actively avoid our centres (not including Farrell as a centre) – for example, a number of scores have come from kicking directly to our wingers, or a great miss pass. When we put the ball through the hands, inevitably the attack falters and dies with one of Te’o/Joseph.

        1. Good point. I would love to see Slade at 13 with Farrell at 12. In attack I think Slade brings more options/variety than JJ. Nto quite as fast, but still quick, fairly big, great understanding of the game and distribution.

          How about a 10, 12, 13 of Faz, Tuilagi, Slade

          I also think England should try Daly at fullback. He has more playmaking than Watson, so would come into the line better. Is he good enough in the air?

          1. We will see how Tuilagi gets on through the rest of the season. If he stay’s fit, maybe he gets a call up for the summer tour. He and Slade/Daly would be a great 12/13 pairing.

            Daly at 15 I am really unsure about. I do think he needs to be involved more but I dont know whether he has played there that often, even for club.

            1. Daly has played a few games at FB for wasps, before leroux arrived. I think he prefers centre/wing which might be an indicator.

              I am a fan of Watson’s speed and step, but sometimes wonder if he reads the game well enough in attack.

              1. Yeah he has the attributes but lacks the experience I guess.
                I still think Watson can do a job at FB; the Ringrose try aside he is capable in the air and hasn’t performed badly at 15.

          2. In my opinion we don’t need another centre who is one dimensional, stupid and can’t pass, so please no to Tuilagi!

            Back line for me when fit….
            9 – anyone but Wigglesworth
            10 – Farrell but I would also like to see Cipriani given a chance although I know that won’t happen, then move Farrell to 12.
            11 – Nowell
            12- Slade
            13 – Daly
            14 – Watson
            15 – Brown

            1. Would have to disagree, Tuilagi is much more than a one trick poney. He is powerful and deceptively quick and can pass so I wouldnt discount him.
              I like the look of your back line but am still not sure on Brown. He did have some good performances but some equally shocking ones. When not dominating in the air he doesnt seem to offer much else.

              1. That is want these forums are all about – giving our opinions and it would be boring if we all agreed.

                I have never been a fan of Tuilagi and I just see it as ‘emperors new clothes’ all the calls for him to be in, but just my opinion. I like heads up intelligent rugby and was a big fan of Brian Ashton’s methods but for me all the thicko players needed to be told what to do. I remember Jonno’s era in charge when the players were too scared to think for themselves and were always looking to the touch line for permission. Just my opinion.

                1. Completely agree about heads up rugby. I think that is one of the big differences between Ireland and the rest of the six nations. And my big concern with Eddie’s coaching.

                  Not convinced that Tuilagi is unable to play that style, more concerned that he always plays 13 for his club. With fax and Slade either side there is plenty of on field coaching available.

                  I would be concerned that a Slade/Daly midfield lacks penetration. Neither will attract 2 or 3; defenders. Then both get unfairly criticised for performance/ability. Slade works best with Hill or Whitten inside who are both surprisingly hard runners for their size.

  5. Perhaps it would have been interesting to have seen the Coach’s rating? To a degree the player ratings surely reflect the style of how the coach wants his team to play. Lots of industry, effort etc, but did anyone really stand out? I personally find it somewhat difficult to give markings to players, but the did the likes of Itoje or Farrell reflect their previous ‘WC’ tags? Didn’t seem so. However, I agree that Daly is sharper, in mind & deed, than many of his team mates… & Jones insists on playing him out of posi @ wing, especially when JJ & Teo were by & large, ineffectual @ centre! Jones also seemed to bring in guys like Wigglesworth & the aforementioned Teo to firefight &/or plug perceived ‘D’ holes rather than playing with an an effective (like straightening up before off loading in/just before the tackle) attack when in possession. Wiggy is THE kicking 1/2 after all. Also unfortunate for Watson, last as well as the previous week, as he cost England, 1stly with a pen try, then a try from a dropped ball try last Sat. Again maybe Jones’ contradiction in picking an ‘attacking’ f/back, when the game was likely to be tight anyway, for Mike Brown back fired. Maybe the latter would have caught the Watson drop? Anyway, my point is that these ratings reflect players’ contributions I suppose, but also EJ’s fudged selections with a dubious style of play.

    1. Do agree that Farrell and Itoje are not looking WC at the moment. I am hoping that this is primarily fatigue.
      Also frustrated by Te’o not running straight. The point of a big ball carrier is to straighten the line, or cut an inside line to hold up defenders before passing/offloading. He did this on the lions your. Only just back from injury, is this a factor?

      Re Watson: I would argue he cost the team a yellow card, not the penalty try. The try was pretty much assured of he did not put in a seat belt tackle. But I would agree that brown would have been better suited for the Ireland game. What happened to horses for courses?

      1. Mike L
        Unsure what ‘WC’ really means as no one defines this nebulous description. Also unclear about the ‘fatigue’ factor thing, unless it’s mental staleness. I mean the Lions tour (if that is what you’re reffing to?) is mths ago now. How long do players need to physically recover? Playing rugger’s what they do for a living. The treadmill has been part of rugby for a while now. Perhaps managed squad rotation rather than bringing on ‘finishers’ or plugging perceived holes randomly may help; individuals as well as the team as a whole? May be harsh on Watson. However, he knows that any tackle above the shoulder in the act of an opponent’s scoring a try invokes the inevitable results. Don’t have to agree with the decision (‘intent’, as pundits keep reffing to, is not incorporated within the rules), but the law must be adhered.. or not, as in some cases. Your last ? is a good one.

        1. Don P
          Not disputing the sanction on Watson. The law is the law – Seatbelt tackle = penalty, and preventing a try upgrades to yellow card. I am not in any way complaining about that decision. I was just being pedantic on the “cost to the team”. Without the seatbelt tackle, they score a try. With tackle – penalty try and yellow card. Cost of tackle is therefore a yellow card (and likely 2 points for the conversion). The try was a given. But this is a slightly pointless discussion.

          On Seatbelt tackles: I understand the reasons for the current rules – to discourage higher tackles. Make it black and white, then there is no reason a player should ever be near that area. However I am coming to the conclusion that the rule is problematic. Some of these tackles look “part of the game” to me.

          WC = you used it first! being less childish, I understand it to mean that they would be in consideration for a world 23/35 or possibly a team of the decade. I see little point in limiting it to 15 WC players at any time; if 3 locks are playing at the same/similar standard how can you claim one is not WC. It is also possible (though unlikely) that at a point in time there may be no WC players for a position when compared to the standard of players in previous and next generations.

          Fatigue; there seems to be a fair bit of evidence that both physical and mental fatigue do accrue in professionals. Players need a period of weeks(even a couple of months) to completely rest and recover from niggling injuries. Hence calls for a global season and less games, Hence the ABs managing player work loads and giving Mr McCaw time off from the game in 2012 and Carter before then.
          Whether Fatigue is the reason for England’s performance this 6nations… that is more open to debate.

          1. Mike L
            Make tackling simpler. Nothing above the waist?

            Regds fatigue, I understand ‘mental’ staleness/ belief/will can be detrimental to playing ability. However, physical recovery should not take so long, injuries or wear & tear permitting of course. McCaw’s break was likely due to wear & tear from a 14 yr (?) career. He played on 1 leg in the prev to last WC. Becoming a marked man, he attracted more markers. Nevertheless, w&t took a toll. In respect of Carter, the NZRU likely were trying to keep from doing a ‘Sopoanga’.Giving him a 6 mth sabbatical seemed a smart move with zillions being waved under his nose. These were exceptions though & it’s a different scenario in NZ whereby the Union control the whole game & so can manage ‘fatigue’ a bit better.

            ‘WC’ is a term that seems easily bandied about too readily for my liking. It’s also open to too much interpretation. I’m aware of Farrell being branded as such, but why? As a points accumulator? Maybe. However, he scores tries @ a rate of 1 in 9 games. Does he emulate guys like Cliff Morgan, Bev Risman, Jack Kyle, Barry John, Phil Bennett or even Beauden Barrett – who does score tries? I don’t think so. He’s probably a ‘WC’ goal kicker, but this doesn’t mean he’s a ‘WC’ fly ½, inside centre. Generally speaking, ‘effective’ rather than ‘WC’, might be a more appropriate term for me.

    2. I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with some of what Don has said! Couldn’t believe that Brown wasn’t picked when we knew there was going to be plenty of excellent Irish high ball kick chase. he is our most reliable FB in that respect.

  6. Harsh on Simmonds methinks. Given his lack of ballast, would it not be more accurate to suggest the decision to use him as a bosher was wrong? Why weren’t decoy runners used to draw defenders and thus give him the space to use his pace and elusiveness? Because the back row balance is arse upwards. Agree with others on Daly being tried at 13. He’s got the brains and a little bit of x factor about him as well as that cannon of a boot. Sinckler confirmed my belief that Williams was harshly treated and should have been the starting 3. The scrum needed his 20 stone anchorage.
    Not convinced by Watson at f/b. Really sorry to see him him pick up so serious an injury though.

  7. Just a quick thought, how about a rate the match officials?

    Never an easy task and respecting the ref’ has always been a cornerstone of the game, albeit seemingly being eroded of late with constant attempts to influence and requests to clarify/ influence. I have to say the individual interpretations of the laws seem to have varied widely this tournament.

    The penalty count against Wales playing England accumulating to a magnificent 2 for an entire game was truly absurd. The disallowed Welsh try was a try, even if Guscott spotted a knock on. The TMO didn’t and he wasn’t judging the decision on that in any case.

    The Scottish penalty count against Wales steadily increasing for what was deemed perfectly legal against England was just frustrating.

    The England v France game was refereed out of existence in the first half, it destroyed any chance of a flowing game.

    …and Italy must feel wronged against Scotland…surely.

    Just some of the instances at hand, lots more I guess, but not the point. Consistency at a level above what we saw is not too much to ask for is it?

    And one last thing…..if you watch the Eng v Ire game again look at how many gaping defensive holes the Irish defence left Wiggles’ at the breakdown in the certain and proven belief that they would never be exploited…..

    1. I think that is the most frustrating thing from a fan’s perspective is the inconsistency. When one sees decisions going against your team one week, that were deemed perfectly legal the week prior, then it does make you question the officials.

      Respect of the officials is paramount, but this does not mean that they should be exempt from criticism if they have performed badly. They are an integral part of the game and so need to be performing at a high standard.

      Can someone clarify for me the laws on turnovers before a ruck is formed, specifically placing of a defenders hands on the ground instead of on the ball during the jackal? Scotland consistently went past the ball v Italy, placing hands on the ground before then playing the ball. I thought this was illegal, or deemed as not supporting your own weight?

      1. You are correct, sort of. If a player goes in and over the tackled player, and balances first by placing their hands on the floor, they run the risk of obstructing the ball, and thus a penalty, as they are by definition not supporting their own weight. If they can then lift their hands off the ground and support their own weight on their legs only, and then make a play for the ball, that is OK.

        So, it is down to the referee to decide. Interpretation by a referee always leads to inconsistent refereeing, which is not good.

        For me what is poor is the way such a ‘jackal’ is cleared out. It is typically a hit from the side (side entry anyone?) with a leg lift. That should explicitly be a foul. It IS a foul, but referees don’t give it. Gate, what gate?

        The second tactic is what teams like Chiefs use. Either dive over the jackal and flatten him (thus he is no longer supporting his own weight), or smash into him at high speed with a no arms charge. Both are also not legal, but not punished.

        Thus, the RFU have much to do in how breakdowns are policed. Also, the amount of time a jackal has to contend for the ball. For some referees this is as little as 2 seconds, for some over 10 seconds.

        For me it is simple, you go to ground and don’t have supporting defenders over the ball, you have lost it to turnover or a penalty. Simples.

    2. Burt
      Good point. I also think that refs should to be subjected to psychometric testing in respect of their egos before being handed a whistle. Plus an assessment as to whether they actually apply the rules instead of interpreting them. Additionally, what is applying the rules & what is coaching on the field of play actually meant to be? I’m all for open rugby, but when refs seem to cherry when or what they chose in this respect, it opens a Pandora’s box (and she must be getting fed up with it)! Agree, ‘Consistency ‘ is a key word. Not implemented in fact, or so it seems to me. WR need to get a grip here. 1(less than popular?) thing I would do is hand the TMO more control over errors he spots during play & advise the ref at the time of same. Keep the former informed.. & on their toes?

  8. With the obvious caveat, that there are times when penalties are not given, when they should have been, I would suggest that there is presently very little entering the side of breakdowns.

    I do recognise what you are describing but would contest that the “clear out” is by a player has has entered through “the gate”, but then turns inwards to lift/drive the jackler out laterally.

    I coach this technique presently, and it is very effective. The importance is to show the ref early on that you are entering “through the gate”. This sets the right picture in his/her mind.

    If you get it wrong – or paint the wrong “picture” for the ref it is an easy and obvious penalty.

    Agree wholeheartedly with your views on the Exeter techniques, and would add also that it is extremely dangerous – particularly when utilised by players without the professional conditioning that we see on the TV. Fortunately I believe this is far better policed at lower levels.

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