Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus Scotland

Tom Curry

The matchup between England and Scotland produced one of the most absurd, yet thrilling, eighty minutes of rugby in the history of the Six Nations. The hosts had taken a seemingly-unassailable lead, the Scots appearing set for yet another fruitless trip to London. However, an astonishing second-half turnaround culminated in Finn Russell giving his team a late lead, only for England to snatch a draw in overtime.

The 38-all draw was a fitting way to end the 2019 edition of the tournament, which has itself been filled with unexpected twists and turns. But, which England players shone and which fizzled out during Saturday’s fireworks display?

Ben Moon – n/a
Injury ended Moon’s afternoon in the opening stages.

Jamie George – 7.5
With a total of 40 metres made and 11 tackles completed, this was another workman-like display from George. His accuracy at lineout time also provided a solid foundation from which his teammates could attack; this was a stellar all-round performance from the hooker.

Kyle Sinckler – 8 (MOTM)
England looked to be a different side once Sinckler was removed from the field of play. His power and tenacity had helped the forwards establish dominance over their Scottish compatriots, yet his teammates could not maintain their grip after the Harlequins man’s departure. He is fast becoming a vital component to the side.

Joe Launchbury – 5
It was a somewhat quiet game from the second row, who failed to reach his usual performance levels. Nevertheless, this was by no means a poor showing from Launchbury; he was reliable as a lineout catcher and showed reasonable energy around the park.

George Kruis – 6.5
Like his partner in the engine room, Kruis should not be at all disappointed by his performance, but may feel there are areas for improvement. 16 tackles and 14 carries stands testament to his commitment to the team and willingness to put in the hard graft. However, he and Launchbury lack the dynamism and athleticism of Maro Itoje and Courtney Lawes.

Mark Wilson – 5.5
The areas of the game in which the Newcastle Falcons backrower excels were not tested whilst he was on the pitch. The combative, defensive role that Wilson typically plays was not required in the first-half as the Roses put their rivals to the sword. His skills would certainly have been useful when the Scots launched their remarkable comeback.

Tom Curry – 7.5
Arguably England’s player of the tournament, the young flanker looks to have nailed down his position in Eddie Jones’ starting XV. Saturday was a continuation of his immaculate form this year, with Curry showcasing an array of skills. His work at the breakdown, offloading capabilities, and linespeed were just a few of the impressive facets of his display.

Billy Vunipola – 6
It has been difficult to assess Vunipola this year. He has been given a heavily restrictive, yet vitally important, task by the coaches whereby he is expected to lead the ball-carrying duties for the team. It has evidently taken a lot out of the Number 8, who looked slightly jaded at Twickenham.

Ben Youngs – 5
For all of Youngs’ excellence in the first-half, he must shoulder much of the blame for England’s collapse after the break. Like in Cardiff, he lost control of the game and began to lose accuracy in his kicking game. That allowed Gregor Townsend’s recruits to establish a foothold, pressurise Youngs’ backline, and claw back the lead.

Owen Farrell – 3
Up until Stuart McInally’s opening score for the Scots, Farrell had been composed, precise and generally impressive. However, like Youngs, his game took a turn for the worse and Farrell soon became the villain for England fans. He was charged down by McInally to give the visitors a glimmer of hope before having a pass intercepted by Russell that completed their comeback. Without such mistakes, the turnaround would likely never have occurred.

Jonny May – 6
As he has done all tournament, May tirelessly chased his half-back’s kicks and was effective in aerial battles. His try before the break was his sixth of the competition and ensured he finished as top scorer, a just reward for how he has played in each match.

Manu Tuilagi – 6
The Leicester Tigers centre gave his opponents plenty to think about with his intelligent running lines, but ultimately was given too little of the ball. Still, the angles he cut created space for his fellow backs to exploit and helped England to build their lead.

Henry Slade – 7
Slade was an artist in the first period, linking beautifully with others in white to punish the Scotland defence. A stunning offload sent May over the whitewash and was just one of numerous sublime moments Slade. Unfortunately for him and England, he was unable to produce similar flashes once Scotland had wrestled momentum in their favour.

Jack Nowell – 6
He finished expertly in the opening minutes before demonstrating his adeptness in defence. His low tackles halted countless runners, preventing England from losing territory. Once more he added impetus to the pack as well, functioning as an auxiliary forward to great effect.

Elliot Daly – 7
Daly seems to have found his feet at full-back after struggling slightly with his positional sense. He looks the part now, consistently claiming high-balls and coming in to the line to supplement attacks. Daly was dangerous with swathes of open space in front of him.

Luke Cowan-Dickie – 5
He had little opportunity to leave his mark on the match, but came up good when his team needed him to. With huge pressure on a lineout at the death, the hooker delivered perfectly to help set up an ultimately successful attack for the hosts.

Ellis Genge – 7
Genge made an unexpectedly early introduction for the team after Moon’s injury and really seized the chance to impress. He was a bowling-ball with ball in hand, effortlessly bumping off would-be tacklers. He also proved his ability at scrum time, holding his own against the experienced Willem Nel.

Dan Cole – 4
England’s downfall began with Cole’s introduction in the second-half. Though the incredible turnaround was hardly his fault, Cole failed to maintain the momentum England had established, even allowing the Scots to turn the tide in the scrums.

Brad Shields – 5
Another who was not directly to blame for the events after half-time, but may feel he could have done more to prevent what occurred. Shields had a decidedly quiet game.

Nathan Hughes – 5
No tackles and a mere four carries captures how insignificant Hughes’ impact on proceedings was. He failed to prevent the Scots’ stellar second-half showing.

Ben Spencer – n/a

George Ford – 7
Despite only entering the contest with minutes left, Ford managed to do what Farrell could not. His distribution and calmness were important in giving England field position and setting up one last chance for Jones’ side. Fittingly, Ford was the one who took that chance, skipping under the posts after a deft sidestep.

Ben Te’o – 6
Whilst most of the substitutes were underwhelming, Te’o managed to have a genuine influence on the outcome. His carry and offload were necessary as England surged upfield in the closing stages of the encounter, ultimately crossing through Ford.

By Ed Alexander

36 thoughts on “Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus Scotland

  1. Backs up what most of us mere armchair fans have been saying on here for a while now:

    1. Nathan Hughes, clearly not up to the job, time to get rid.

    2. Farrell is not a captain and lacks the composure to be so and unlike Hartley shows no sign of making a change.

    3. Whats the point of picking a bench of similar players on the bench if the game-plan isn’t working?

    4. Of those on the bench who can change the game, why send them on without little time to make said change, George Ford and Dan Robson a prime example or leave the Man of the Match from the previous game out totally.

    I know on here big Joe’s defence was being lamented but the way the game went on Saturday what cost him being bought on for the last quarter?

    I understand the status quo if the game goes to plan but what if it doesn’t, we need to learn from the Wales and Scotland games .

    1. Agree with all of the above but to add,Hughes is a waste of space as a game changer,you need big fast players such as Morgan,Mercer or Clifford.
      As far as the captaincy is concerned,I was in the crowd when Exeter took Saracens to the cleaners and all Farrell did was contribute to Mothercare”s profits.A Captain needs to think with his brain,NOT his Dick !.Farrell is a fine player but an attacking fly half he is not-he hasn’t got the instincts.
      We need to find a way of using both Manu and Big Joe in attack either together or separately.
      AS for EJ and the talk of psychologists-Pure psycho-babble and mumbo jumbo-The solution is SIMPLE-you play the game that is in front of YOU-players who cannot grasp that reality have no business being in international rugby!

      1. JS10 – Another point to add to Faz thinking with his dick was earlier in the tournament I think against France when we had a penalty a long way out well within Daly’s range but on the outer of his but he still took it, I think it went over but whats the point of risking the game on ego if someone else can do the job easier?

        1. Yet Daly had one, well inside Wales’ half, and missed by a mile? Far too much is being made out of that penalty Farrell missed. We still won.
          I do think that Farrell should not be captain though. AWJ does so well influencing the game yet I can’t see Farrell ever doing this being in the back line. It should be given to George/Launchberry/Kruis. A player closer to the action. Another reason for this is Farrell has enough to think about already in terms of attack/defence/game management without having to think about the team and their relationship with the ref. I’m sure there are FH who can manage both but they are few and far between.

          1. Not the point, yes he got the kick but it was a poor captains decision, it you have a tap penalty with the line begging and Johnny May on your shoulder do you go for glory and ego or give the ball to someone who will reliably take the chance?

            It’s evidence of ‘me, me, me’ and not for the team.

    2. Mr B. I’m not really disagreeing with anything you say, but to be honest if Big Joe had come on it wouldn’t have changed a thing as by that stage we were just aimlessly kicking the ball away, not giving it to our dangerous backs.

      Youngs and Farrell were at fault for aimless kicking in the second half – probably more Youngs than Farrell in my opinion, but as has been mentioned much of this came from the Scots competing hard at the breakdown in the second half and slowing our ball down. That ultimately was where the game was lost. Interesting to see who we think the fault of that is? Wilson, Curry and BV, or the locks or maybe the whole pack?

      Or maybe EJ asked the team to give away the game so that people underestimate us for Japan……

      1. Staggy all I was trying to point out is having game changers on the bench, Big Joe was an example not a solution.

  2. Bit harsh on Dan Cole. Sinckler was subbed far too early but changing THP wasnt the reason we went into a tailspin.
    I’m afraid the h/b’s again failed to provide the direction and calm control necessary. Farrell’s individual errors were costly, while his onfield leadership appeared to be completely absent.
    I thought George and Kruis were our best forwards, May our best back with very nice contributions from Slade and Nowell.
    A mark for Eddie Jones perhaps?
    It would have to be a low one. His h/t messages didnt get us back on track, and his substitutions were poorly timed.

  3. Nothing to add to what’s been said really.
    Just one thing: If Jones really does need to employ some sort of mind Dr, what the hell is he doing to the psyche of the team and why can’t he be the one to sort it? He’s in the last chance saloon big time. Not that he gives a toss………….

  4. Interesting. For more than a year I’ve argued that Farrell isn’t our best 10 (that would be Ford) and that his temperament isn’t what it needs to be. I’ve been repeatedly told that I’m wrong, yet now there seems to be a glimmer of understanding.

    Farrell is, to my mind, a very good 12 and should be partnered with a genuinely creative fly-half. But he should also be told to let that fly-half run the game: in previous games he often appeared to be trying to run the show from inside centre.
    My next piece of heresy is that Tuilagi has no place in the England side. He is (at best) a two-trick pony: either running into contact or threatening to do so. A Ford-Farrell-Slade axis is our best hope in the World Cup. And finally … Nathan Hughes and Brad Shields ? Why … just why ? Neither are good enough.

    1. For more than a year I’ve argued that Farrell isn’t our best 10 (that would be Cips)!

      I have to say that I’ve not always been a fan of Ford, but in the few minutes that he was on, he mightily impressed me on Saturday.

    2. Well, TT, about this Shields thing, when he scored a brace last up, were you expressing similar sentiments? Also, as Wilson was only rated @ 5.5 here, should his presence not also be ?ed? Concern about perception v reality, esp as yr criticism was general & non specific.

  5. Interesting to have seen the marks. @ 1/2time. Also, I know it’s England, but what about the Scots’ marks? There were 2 teams out there. Take a leaf from the S Times? Don’t quite get the Sinckler or Launch marks? Sinck butchered 1 after making his break by not looking for a support runner (there was 1to his left rear) & Launch made himself available to actually score a try! Don’t see 7’s for Daly or Slade either, unless their marks stopped @ the break. Amongst others, whom also fell over like The Keystone Cops whilst attempting to ‘tackle’ Johnson, Daly missed him altogether (if only Mike Brown..). Also, Slade must have been partially responsible for some if those midfield breeches by the Scots. Seems like there are a few whipping boys like Cole, Shields & few favourites, like aforementioned Slade, Daly & Sinck, George, Kruis. Some moderation required? OTOH, even I wouldn’t have put the boot into Farrell to the extent it has been done so here. Was he so much worse than Youngs? Additionally, although the breakaways seemed fairly prolific, they must also take their share of collective responsibility for the 2nd 1/2 lack of possession. It’s lack of use of course, was mostly down to Farrell & Youngs, notwithstanding that they were being (mis)directed here by Jones. Basically, all England needed to have done was retained the ball when they had it & kept attacking, short & wide to mix it up. Anything else, including overly blaming too many individuals, apart from a few pivotal ones, seems pointless.

    1. Agree with you here Don, Daly was responsible for a couple of very questionable tackles. One missed on Johnson and one missed on Price in the build up to Bradburys try. He seems to be mimicking Farrell a bit with some chest-on-chest action yet failed to make any significant contact. He was also had a 3 on 2 (though deep in Englands half) and opted to kick which went dead.
      Youngs is more responsible imo than Farrell, though both were poor. His passing is nowhere near good enough for an international 9. At pounts in the second half, where England has managed to get into Scotlands 22, his passing was either behind onrushing players or over their heads, killing any momentum and giving Scotland the upper hand in defence. His box kicking was aimless and constantly gave Scotland good field position to mount a counter.

      1. Amazes me dometimes Jake, how people’s perceptions can vary so widely. I think Daly is a skilful, quick witted player, but, especially by being played out of position (why, only Jones can say.. maybe?), he is being unnecessarily exposed as not being the finished article @ f/back. Even so, v Wales when Adams scored against him & as I stated elsewhere, he made an error of judgement in competing for the late, aerial x kick. However, whatever position he had been playing in, the %age option would was to have let Adams have the ball & then placed himself in a position to have immediately driven Adams into touch as he landed. Never know for sure, but can t help but wonder if the out of favour Mike Btown would have done better. Not entirely ED’s fault that he’s @ f/back, although he could tell Jones he declines to play there in future, although it’s probably too late for that now as Slade seems glued into Daly’s better posi of 13.. or maybe 12? But this is not going to happen under Jones who’s calling in a psycho to sort out mentality instead of addressing real issues such as playing keep ball & er, positional incongruities. A shame for ED & England, although unsure about for Jones.

  6. I would struggle to mark anyone above a 6 to be honest. Whilst Farrell and Youngs contributed hugely to the meltdown, collectively we were pretty dire across the team in the 2nd half. I also agree with Staggy in that our almost full strength pack started to lose the breakdown to a Scottish pack missing some key players and who have not exactly been convincing this 6N. Cliche I know but as they say games are often won and lost up front. This team seem like the playground bully – love dishing it out but when they take a punch in the face back it all goes horribly wrong.

    1. One of the reasons the e forwards struggled is that the like for like replacements were a lot weaker. Cole came on early for Sink and then Shields for Wilson. Hughes replaced Launchbury. That is 3 players many of us think shouldn’t be picked at all. Maybe Curry who has been excellent started to tire as well as he is the tournament ‘s top tackler. Notable that 3 of the 4 top tacklers are English ie iCurry #1, George #3, Wilson #4. Wilson would probably have been top if he had started in the Italy game.
      So I blame Eddie for picking a rubbish bench who in no way can be described as finishers.
      What is to the side’s credit is the ball retention and grit with which they scored the final try at the very end . I don’t believe we would.have scored it with Faz and Youngs on the field so that tends to very much suggest that it was the failures of the half backs which were determining the run of play. Again Eddie has to be criticised for not making the changes earlier especially after he said he regretted not doing so in Cardiff.
      A lot of credit has to go to Spencer and especially Ford who was so composed.
      Also you only have to look at Ireland to see how the half backs malfunctioning spooks the whole team with mistake compounding mistake.

      1. Not sure that this entirely makes sense Bolter. Understand yr pt about Launch being replaced by Hughes, a No. 8. However, to enable Ford to score @ the death, those fwds on the field @ that time did produce a series of pressure attacks to stress Scotland’s defence for this to happen.

  7. Just for the halibut, My squad for japan, barring incidents and accidents: Brown, Watson, May, Nowell, Coka. Marchant, Slade, Manu, Cips, Ford, Farrell,Care, Chudley, Robson, Teo.
    Collier, Sinckler, Williams, George, Yeandle, Hartley, Wilson, Curry, Morgan, U/Hill, BV, Ewers, Kruis, Itoje, Hill, Launchbury, Attwood.
    I can’t choose a captain, Hartley would be the obvious pick but George has done little wrong, so leaving him out would be cruel. Could Hartley be “overall” captain with a second leader on field during games or does the captain have to be in the starting xv?

      1. i thought long and hard about him Bolter. He’s a massively talented player but I don’t feel like he’s ever really nailed down a place and said “this is mine”. Now, some of that is down to Ed and his selection policy but if we are going on form i can’t make a huge case for involving him. Like a lot of the other England players he seems to be fine when things are going well but wilts when the pooh hits the fan. I just think Brown’s experience will be crucial and Marchant deserves a go. I could very well be totally wrong!

        1. I don’t see how you can omit someone who started all 3 tests for the lions Acee. Also the fact he can play 3 positions is a definite plus over a long tournament. It’s not his fault he is playing out of position precisely because he is multi-talented. Lynagh described him as England’s best player which is very high praise from a great of the game who is also impartial. His ability to kick goals from so far out is also invaluable as we saw against the ABs in the summer. I am a fan.

          1. PS Eddie takes first team selection for the lions very seriously. I am sure if they are fit all English players in the starting 23 will go so that will be Daly, Watson and Nowell.from the back 3.

          2. Point taken, Bolter. I’m not, not a fan of daly, if you get my drift? Ok, Daly in, Marchant out. I would play him at centre.

  8. Have to say that for all those suddenly talking up Mike Brown as a defensive hero, you may want to look at him being run over by Woodward 8 days ago. Straight one on one and he got done all ends up.

    I know that in these circumstances the players who don’t play get better by default, but I’m not entirely convinced by him. He also lost his cool (stereotypical Mr Angry!) and nearly got sent to the bin for backchatting the ref. If that had been Farrell who’d done the same………….

    Personally would still take Daley for what he brings to the attack, but might be tempted to take Brown as well. Not sure. keen competition for back three places. Daley, May, Nowell, Brown, Ashton, Watson, Cokanisaga. They aren’t all going!

    So what are we definitely taking-

    3 LH
    3 Hookers
    3 TH
    3 locks
    3 6/7s
    2 8s
    3 SH
    2 FH
    2 Centres
    4 Back three

    That is 28 players which leaves three places up for grabs. Personally I would use one of these for a spare FH with Farrell covering centre. Don’t think EJ is going to do this though which in my eyes is a massive risk if you lose a FH early in the tournament, but what do I know? So that would leave two impact players. Hmmm.

    1. Okay Staggy, I’ve given it a go although I am already arguing with myself…

      3 Tight Heads: Sinckler, Williams, Cole
      3 Hookers: George, Hartley, Cowen-Dickie
      3 Loose Heads: Vunipola, Genge, Moon
      4 Second Rows: Itoje, Kruis, Lawes, Launchbury
      1 Blind Side: Wilson
      2 Open Sides: Curry, Underhill
      2 Number Eights: Vunipola, Simmonds
      3 Scrum Halves: Youngs, Care, Robson
      2 Fly Halves: Farrell, Ford
      3 Centres: Tuilagi, Teo, Slade
      3 Wings: May, Nowell, Cokanasiga
      2 Full Backs: Daly, Watson

      1. Agree with that selection but I would be tempted with Jack Willis as a bolter in the back row. No doubt too late for him and without ample prep time before the RWC EJ will likely opt for Shields or Robshaw.

        1. Agree on Jack Willis, he’s a quality operator but I just don’t think he’s got the time to force himself in to contention. The other 50/50s for me are the experienced guys like Robshaw, Brown, Joseph and Ashton. They all have a case for inclusion. I hope that Hughes and Shields are left out but I can’t see Eddie doing that. What do you think of having only one genuine blind side in the above squad? I thought it could pave the way for playing Underhill at 6 and Curry at 7 for a game or two.

          1. I would love to see Underhill / Curry at 6 / 7 – I think both Warburton and Woodward have come out in the press saying that it would be worth a go and their playing styles are quite complimentary… Here’s hoping !

    2. Not everyone’s suddenly started talking Brown up Staggy. It seems fairly obvious that MB, with his record, is the sounder f/back option under pressure than Daly. Already mentioned are the latter’s missed Johnson tackle v Scotland & x kick v Wales for instance. However, to can Brown for 1 missed tackle v Woodward is hardly representative. BTW, perhaps the Kiwi could be another England option @ 15, not least abecause he plays for Glaastaah!?

  9. Totally agree with Jacob re Cole. The horse was already bolting when he came on, and to suggest that he is shot at this level because the whole team were waiting for a bath after half time is daft. Very harsh on Launchbury who made his tackles, won every throw aimed at him and scored a try with a nice little dummy. Extremely generous to Daly who tends to miss tackles, still looks dodgy under the high ball and looks far better going forward than defending. No more than a 5 at best. I don´t think his positional sense has improved much at all. I´d have Brown, Goode, Woodward, Watson and a couple of others in front of him as a 15, and am not sure I´d pick him as a centre either at the moment. C-D surely deserves a higher mark for actually doing the one thing that was required of him and hitting his jumper when under huge pressure. Also, despite scoring some nice tries the back line surely have to take collective responsibility for their dreadful defensive alignment in the second half and are all at least one mark too high. I do wonder whether having Nowell playing like an extra flanker sometimes leaves holes that don´t get filled and Mitchell must have been looking anxiously at the situations vacant column in “Rugby World” with five minutes to go.


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