Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus Wales

Ben Youngs

After a fortnight away, the Six Nations returned to our screens and the Welsh returned with a vengeance. They emphatically ended a run of five successive defeats to England in the tournament, riding the wave of a buoyant Cardiff crowd to overcome Eddie Jones’ men. The result raised a few eyebrows given England’s electric start to this year’s competition and the awkward steps made by Wales in Paris and Rome. So, which Englishmen fizzled out on Saturday and who really shone?

Ben Moon – 7
Mako Vunipola has big boots to fill, both literally and metaphorically. Ben Moon – a relative newcomer to the International scene – was the man tasked with doing so and he did so admirably. Lacking Mako’s attacking prowess, the Loosehead played to his strengths and racked up an impressive nineteen tackles during an exhaustive encounter. A seventy-seven minute shift demonstrated his durability and dependability.

Jamie George – 7.5
Like Moon, George’s contribution in defence was significant. Twenty-four tackles, with zero being missed, stands testament to the strength of his performance in Cardiff. Once again, he was reliable at lineouts, though his failure to hook the ball during one scrum put England in real bother. Nevertheless, he continues to cement his place ahead of the soon-to-return Dylan Hartley.

Kyle Sinckler – 5.5
Oozing testosterone and burning with aggression, Sinckler is rugby’s answer to the bull shark. In Dublin this was used perfectly; in Cardiff, it came at a price. In the cauldron that is the Principality Stadium, the Harlequin was twice penalised unnecessarily at vital moments. Blocking Gareth Anscombe and throttling Alun-Wyn Jones led to penalties that aided Wales in their comeback efforts. Some sizeable hits on Welsh runners redeemed him slightly, but Sinckler must learn to channel his inner beast.

Courtney Lawes – 7
Lawes did what was expected of him on Saturday. He carried manfully when given the opportunity, consistently chopped down oncoming runners, and was typically mobile around the park. A handful of Welshmen experienced his trademark tackles, shuddering as his shoulder met their midriff. Unfortunately, injury ended his day early and left England without their hitman.

George Kruis – 6
As has been Kruis’ modus operandi in this year’s Six Nations, the Lock was steady without ever looking likely to shine. Beyond an early steal at the lineout, his work was unglamorous but undoubtedly necessary. He consistently halted Welsh runners and competed well for Owens’ throws.

Mark Wilson – 6
Unable to reach the same levels as he did in the previous two rounds, Wilson nevertheless stood his own and continued to show his worth as a defender. He lost the battle of the breakdown, though was up against Josh Navidi and Justin Tipuric, both of whom are artful jacklers.

Tom Curry – 8.5
Curry’s expert understanding of the game was on full display on Saturday. Reading the situation perfectly, he saw the gap and scored his side’s only try of the match. However, it was the disruption he caused at rucks, a sterling turnover, and a remarkable twenty-five tackles that truly demonstrated this young man’s ability. That he managed a respectable seven carries and gained twenty-four metres only adds to the brilliance of his performance.

Billy Vunipola – 6
As England’s key ball-carrier, there was a lot riding on Billy. He was given a hefty workload and certainly drew much attention from Wales’ defenders, but ultimately failed to get the better of them. The heavy labour looked to take its toll, as his involvement gradually faded.

Ben Youngs – 4
The Ben Youngs of rounds one and two did not turn up in Cardiff. The criticism that has been levelled at him all of his England career is that he is not consistent enough; yesterday was another example of this. He was ineffective and seemed to lose control of the match, which coincided with the Welsh revival.

Owen Farrell – 4
Farrell was targeted by Gatland and his side, with the tactic seemingly working. A handful of wayward kicks and one which was charged down suggest that his mind-set was off. A dubious first-half tackle on Anscombe may have been punished by other referees. Like his halfback partner, this was not his finest hour.

Jonny May – 5
May has blitzed his way to four scores so far this tournament, but was well shackled by Josh Adams and his colleagues. Beyond a footrace with Hadleigh Parkes moments before half-time, he did not threaten the Welsh line. Not at all a poor display, just quiet.

Manu Tuilagi – 4
A ghost in the first-half, Tuilagi suddenly energised and electrified England’s attack with one magnificent carry in the second period. Unfortunately, that spectacular moment was an isolated incident during a largely anonymous game for the Leicester Tiger. The only other moments of note were his three missed tackles; room for improvement is an understatement.

Henry Slade – 5
Much like Jonny May, this display can be characterised as quiet. In a backline filled with sub-par performances, Slade’s was one of the more reasonable ones.

Jack Nowell – 7
England’s standout back, Nowell was more involved than any of his counterparts. He actively sought out the opportunity to carry and did so with vigour. His bristling charges consistently caused Wales more difficulties than any of his teammates, whilst his tackling was both effective and plentiful.

Elliot Daly – 6
Daly was capable under the high-ball for the majority of this encounter, but came up short at the pivotal moment. Losing out to Josh Adams allowed the latter to seal a historic Welsh victory, though the result would likely have remained the same, regardless. England’s prudent game plan did not allow Daly to exhibit his usual attacking flair and incisive runs regularly, though he did threaten occasionally.

Luke Cowan-Dickie – n/a
Ellis Genge – n/a

Harry Williams – 6.5
The most impressive facet of England’s play was undeniably their defensive showing. More accurately, it was the defensive toil and broil of the forwards. Williams’ introduction continued this trend, the behemoth amassing fifteen successful tackles and keeping the scrum on lockdown.

Joe Launchbury – 6
Launchbury’s introduction brought with it an added impetus and energy around the field. He offered the same qualities that Kruis had shown all game; endeavour, a dogged work-rate, and stability. If England are to be without both Lawes and Itoje for the remaining fixtures, they have an excellent replacement in Launchbury.

Brad Shields – n/a
Dan Robson – n/a
George Ford – n/a
Joe Cokanasiga – n/a

With the vast majority of the replacements coming on too late to make any meaningful assessment of their contribution – or not getting any game time at all – one might question Jones’ substitution policy. Given that Wales wrestled the game from England in the closing stages, it may be the case that the players were sapped, their influence on the game gradually waning. Of course, the same tactic was employed in the opening weekend’s magnificent triumph away to Ireland; perhaps, the more significant factor was a baying Welsh crowd.

Give us your thoughts on this, the players’ performances, and anything else you wish to voice!

By Ed Alexander

53 thoughts on “Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus Wales

  1. Sinckler 5.5? He was England’s best player in first half. Did you see his tackle count? Give the man a break!

    1. Sorry but no. He had to be subbed before he lost his head completely and that is just not acceptable.
      Don’t forget, Gatland highlighted his short fuse before the game and he was spot on. He has to take responsibility for himself and control temper. Simple as.

      1. Agree with you on lots of things Acee but not this. Sinckler was by some distance England’s best forward until he was subbed and it’s no co-incidence that his removal co-incided with Wales starting to get on top in the forward battle.
        Neither of the penalties he gave away were heinous and if he was starting to lose his cool then I question how much of it was due to Welsh windups and how much it of it was due to sheer frustration at watching Youngs and Farrell consistently boot away all his and the other forwards’ hard work
        Sinckler has added solid set piece work to his superb carrying and ball handling skills. He is a prop for England to build a pack around – skilled and aggressive.
        Unfortunately it seems to me that people are a little too keen to heap opprobrium on Sinckler. I don’t remember Itoje getting the same kind of stick (or being replaced) when he consistently gave away 4 or 5 silly penalities per game.

        1. Perhaps you & Acee are both right Pablito. Sinckler’s stats were impressive. Played well up til have gave away the 2 penalties. These helped Wales claw back into it. Therefore KL also needs to address his discipline, which cost England.

  2. Can we give Sinckler a first half score and a second half score or have you averaged it out? Lol.

    I think he was a 7 at least in the first half and a total dumbass 3 in the second, I like the guys aggression but he needs to see a sports psychologist to reign it in.

    Farrell totally deserved a 4, questions his ability as England Captain too.

    1. The main reason England lost this game was underperformance by Farrell(including leadership/decision making) and Youngs.
      Very difficult to win a tight game if your half backs play badly.Farrell needs to hold his hand up.

      1. But he won’t. Eddie will close ranks and we’ll get the usual dross about Farrells’ passion and desire. He’s running out of time as captain IMO.
        Shaking a fist and shouting doth not a captain make, especially when you are one of the “controllers” of the team at F-Half.
        We need to see some genuine craft and an ability to motivate with well chosen words. Farrell is all blood and guts with no ability to think “off message”.

  3. Harsh on Sinckler who was generally very impressive. His defensive work was outstanding, plus he carried and scrummaged well.
    The half backs score is about right: neither were much cop and it was a mystery that both lasted the whole match.
    Manu is worth more than a 4. Its hardly his fault is he isnt given the ball, or even used as a decoy from time to time. Again May gets a lowish score when he had possession 4 times in the game.
    Curry rightly signalled out as playing well, and I thought both locks did fine. Nowell was our best back.

    1. Like I say, May’s score is not due to a poor performance, but simply a lack of involvement in the game. It’s hard to justify a higher rating when he was a passenger for large periods 🙂

      1. Ed, it must have been hard to have scored May full stop. As he received nxt to no ball, he can only be judged on that & his defence. To score him for being a ‘passenger’ is to judge him for something that is out of his control. He shouldn’t be blamed for this. Tricky 1 for sure & I wouldn’t have known how to have scored him, but the points system seems to be weighted in favour of possession & attack. As May didn’t appear to flop on ‘D’, he might have rated a higher score based mostly on this basis as there were few other areas to judge him by. In theory then, he might have potentially rated higher than a player who had more possession, but played patchily? However, it’s also difficult to rate a less involved player over a more involved player. Rather you than me on this 1.

  4. It’s harsh on the centres because they were given starvation rations all afternoon. Maybe we should give Jones and Mitchell a three out of ten apiece?

    1. Agree Acee. How can they be marked effectively with no ball? Only on ‘D’ & that wasn’t that bad was it? Difficult 1, but suspect marks would have been higher if England had squeaked a win.

  5. Ridiculous on Sinckler.

    Sorry, but the foul on Anscombe was a nothing incident and the high call on AWJ was purely from AWJ trying to get to ground.

    Nothing in either, apart from Wales incessant appealing

    1. The Anscombe incident was frustrating. He just stopped and didn’t adjust his line, which he is entitled to do. He dropped his shoulder, arguably, because he was bracing for impact rather than anything malicious. He was basically penalised for standing still and bracing himself?

      1. EC, Sinckler gave away 6. He then got hooked. His actions helped get Wales back into it. Undid some former good work.

        1. Yup, not disputing the others. Wales saw a weakness in his temper and targeted it. He’s still young though and props typically don’t mature until their late 20s, so plenty of time to learn. Maybe it’s a Quins thing; I seem to remember Joe Marler having difficulties with his temper.

    2. I totally agree with this.

      Also I am surprised that no one is mentioning the constant whinging by Jones et al.

      Wales were definitely good for the win, but I am not sure why commentators at the time and in the aftermath are sticking the boot into certain English players for pretty innocuous things.
      Jones had a great game, but god did it get boring watching him raising his hands to the sky at the ref at every opportunity and perceived slight by an Englishman.

        1. I think you need to’reread what I said Don. The thrust of my argument is that Wales, led by Whinge-Jones, cynically put pressure on the ref by hystrionically appealing for England “offences” and were very successful in swinging the penalty count their way. Don’t like to see it from any team, but the Welsh appeared to have been carefully coached in this area and I hope that some refs will have the balls to stand up to it. Peyper didn’t.

          1. I did Andy. I stand by what I stated. Yr comments are too personal & subjective, e.g., ‘Whinge-Jones’. As captain he’s entitled. You seem to deflect or reframe or seek to blame other reasons when yr team dipped out. The real reasons England lost were, by general consensus, mainly their flawed, ltd game plan & it’s poor & ctd execution by the 1/2’s. Then 2ndly, IMO @ least, the pen count which let Wales back (Sinckler’s transgressions for instance, which have already been covered & surely you’re not blaming Pepyer for those?). 3rdly, Wales scored more points. So where’s my bias? Yrs OTOH, seem patent regarding the match. Stop eating grapes?!

      1. Careful ed (oops!). God might take it as a perceived slight by yr stating his name NOT beginning with a capital ‘G’!?

    3. Dave, that is purely subjective bunkum! Leaving aside Sinckler’s stats & efforts, he hit Anscombe late & with NO arms. It was a straight yellow. He dodged a bullet. And so much for Andy’s 1 eyed take on Peyper & not forgetting the 1st England pen of course. As for the AWJ tackle, it was a ‘seat belt’, around his neck! It happens to be illegal! So neither were ‘nothing incidents’ in fact. Conversely, if a Welshman, say AWJ for instance, had perpetrated either foul on an English player, would you have held the same opinions (for that’s what they are)? Unlikely, I venture.

  6. I don’t think Sinckler is at fault for his penalties, Eddie Jones is. About 5-10 minutes before he was subbed, you could see him getting off the floor slower and slower. The penalties given away were the sign of a man who had emptied his tank and had nothing left to give. As a coach EJ should’ve noticed that before it was coming. He made 17 tackles in 57 minutes, props cannot hold that (well Mako seems to be able to, but Sinks can’t!).
    That comment also goes to all the subs. the starting pack all made 16+ tackles other than Vunipola, yet averaged 74 minutes on the pitch. You cannot expect a team to maintain that intensity for that long!

    1. Henno, if Sinckler isn’t responsible for his actions, then who is? We’re all responsible for our actions (well mostly, people like Trump apart of course) in life. You can’t rationally blame Jones for Sinckler’s giving away pens. Whether he was tired or not, should the ref have said; ‘Ok, Sinck, I can see ghat you’re tired, that’s a good enough reason to not penalise you’? And therefore, should not every player who commits a transgression when tired also be let off? This is nonsense! The road to nowhere.

  7. Just on Billy V, is anyone else concerned that he seems a bit less of a tank these days? i know he’s lost a bit of timber but he isn’t blasting holes like he has in the past.
    Do wilson and Curry need to up their ball carrying a bit? Mind you, getting the ball to Manu would also help!

    1. There is perhaps some truth in that, maybe he’s more wary of making heavy contact and injuring himself?
      But also looking at the stats, he made far more carries than any other player in the team, maybe a case of too predicable it was going to him?

  8. Perhaps we should question Eddie Jones’ tactics. England’s performance was exactly what one would expect with the tactics on the day. Hence backs getting no ball. England should have been attacking one on one all day. England has better athletes playing in a better league. As I have always said. Gatland and Edwards turn mostly average club players into giant killers.

    1. What ‘perhaps’ P Evans? To have slavishly aped tactics that ‘worked’ before, but which clearly weren’t v Wakes after 1/2 time til the end, is the mind set of ineptitude. The buck stops with Jones. Fartell & Youngs also lacked nous & or nerve in not challenging & then not changing tack anyway. Not rocket science. But the horse has bolted. Italy & Scotland will likely be beaten anyway, whether England change tactics or not. If they do round out their game, they could yet derive some benefit, but make no mistake, this last loss has dented England & possibly unnecessarily. Jones needs to really reassess his game & descision & playmakers pronto. Also PE, are you stating that Wales are all ordinary club players?!

  9. I don’t think we need to throw the baby out with bath water just yet. In the 07 Nations we got properly battered by Wales and royally trounced by Ireland. In October we reached the WC final.
    I think this current team is capable of doing the same, and they’ll probably learn more from this game than if they’ve won. I’d really like to see more variation in taking the ball into contact against Italy. After Sunday’s showing they’ll potentially be a bigger hurdle than many might expect.

    Totally agree regards the No9. If Danny Care had been on the bench I think he would have undoubtedly played. So either include him or be brave enough to play Robson when it dictates. Surely a pack leader would go some way to keeping Sinks in check. Farrell is always going to be isolated from the forwards to a certain extent, as would any captain in the backs. I would have loved to have seen Faz stop conversing with Peyper and go directly to Whinge Jones. When are refs going to grow a pair and start marching them back ten. When was the last time that happened?

    And please please keep John Terry away from any and every England international team, one of the prime under achievers at football international level. As Sharpy said on another thread, the team has always possessed the ability to self sabotage without further encouragement.

      1. “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater” is an idiomatic expression for an avoidable error in which something good is eliminated when trying to get rid of something bad, or in other words, rejecting the favorable along with the unfavorable.[1][2][3]

        A slightly different explanation suggests this flexible catchphrase has to do with discarding the essential while retaining the superfluous because of excessive zeal.

        Hope that provides a little context Don

        1. My cranium’s top space is still slightly aching Acee! Something to do with pigs’ ears in my pint water @ last Sat night’s music venue?!

  10. I firmly agree with Harlequin in that the cause of the loss was down to the performance of Youngs and Farrell. I thought Farrell did okay in the first half, up until he butchered the try scoring opportunity on the stroke of half time. That really could have been the defining moment in my view. In the second half he just couldn’t change things up. Youngs was poor, his box kicking was awful and just continually handed posession back with zero chance of May, Nowell, Slade being able to apply kick chase pressure. I am not taking away credit to Wales as they played to the game and grew in confidence but this was massively helped by Farrell and Youngs being a real weak link in the 2nd half.

  11. I agree with you Lord Warwick. All the old cliches about the six nations, how tough it is to win away from home are true. I think with the form England came into this game and the expectation that created as well as playing away from home were part of the reason we lost. Have to say well played Wales, they really took the bull by the horns in the second half and got a lot of momentum in the last quarter that made for painful viewing from an England perspective.
    I think going into the WC; England, Wales, Ireland and South Africa can beat either one of each other on their day, there is so little to pick between the teams at the moment.

  12. Just as an aside, one of the main criticisms of Eddie’s England in the past and after this Wales defeat is an inability to adapt and think on the sport. Whether you think that criticism is fair or not, I recently read Ben Ryan’s excellent book about the Fiji 7s and he talks about how thinking on your feet and adapting to the game as it goes are qualities that are not well coached in England (from his experience of coaching the England 7s team).
    I could see this being the case, too much attention to an overall ‘game plan’ and not enough attention to the real chaos of a rugby field.

    What do others think?

    1. I’m sure Brian Ashton would agree with Ben Ryan on this as I remember the 2007 England senior players not being happy with being asked to play heads up what’s in front of you rugby. They preferred being told what to do for each and every occaisin and weren’t happy thinking for themselves, despite getting to the final.

      1. Trio, it’s not possible to tell players players ‘what to do on each & every occasion’. However, it is possible to tell them there are certain options that can be deployed in this, that or the other scenario. For instance, in attack there are 3 options; to run, pass or kick. Generally, probably in that order. Also, to execute these tasks accurately, under pressure & @ speed. Additionally, when these tasks are to be utilised, will depend on the time remaiming in a game, the scoreboard differential & field position. Scenarios should be played out @ practice in prep, prior to the real thing. Running lines, moves should also be perfected beforehand. These need drumming into players until they become 2nd nature to them. The ‘heads up’ bit ought to then become common sense thereafter. For example, if the opposition b/line in pulled into a breakdown proximity, thereby leaving a gap on their flank, a kick pass might be a 1st option instead of the normal run, pass, kick order. Forethought & practice are required until options will become ‘natural’ as players become accustomed to them. England showed how not to do this last Sat.

  13. Brian Ashton’s coaching philosophy was, if I recall correctly, hugely based on the ability of players to adapt to what is now called what’s in front of them. I honestly think that international rugby has evolved a pace to the game that dictates game plans are essential. The simple accurate, low risk game England played against Ireland and France I thought was very reminiscent of NZ. The diffence was against Wales they forgot to add any variations. NZ do that as a natural part of their game. Add to that a full 80 minute determination and confidence to win, is still what sets them apart. Albeit a margin that I think is smaller than it’s ever been. As I said I think in terms of the big prize this loss could well be a blessing in disguise.

    I have a sneaky feeling the mean greenies are going to, in traditional Irish style, gleefully ruin another party, this time in Cardiff. And England could well end up winning the tournament with an Augaust chance of redressing the balance with World Cup warm up games against both Wales and Ireland. Wins in both those games would truly set up momentum…..

    1. Do you think having a fly half such as Cipriani, who plays so much on instinct, would be a benefit to add some chaos to Englands attack that seemed so lacking on Saturday? Or a hinderance not sticking to the game plan.

    2. Surely Int’al rugby, or otherwise, has usually required some sort of game plan LW? Regardless of its pace. A good 1 might be to review a kicking plan each 1/4 to see if it’s working. If it isn’t, then stop doing it. Do something else instead. Like retaining possession for starters, so, @ that particular time, the opposition can’t score because they don’t have the ball. Then do something else with it. Like running or passing it. How come England ‘forgot’ to do something like this? Because kicking had worked twice before? If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it? Absence of forethought perhaps? Reminiscent of NZ? Really? Is this also an e.g. of yr being t in c? Bit more to their game than that methinks. Like out thinking opponents. Like seeking to score tries whenever & wherever they have the ball. Like wrap arounds. Back 3 line injections. The f/back tracking behind a 3/4 to receive the ball & take the former’s place, ball & line. Like stopping the opposition from scoring when they have poession. A bit to work on before the nxt 1 maybe?

  14. In Cardiff it was for me a simple case of no plan B or failing to switch. Gatland and team did their homework and it paid off.

    In a way the Curry try may have hampered this change in mind set as they went in ahead through what it had to be said was a well taken but undeniably soft try lending credence to the game plan working.

    Manus occasional charges showed that there was a way through if the mode pig attack changed.

    However as bad as England’s play makers were, Wales were excellent especially Williams and none of the above comment was intended to detract from a very strong Welsh performance.


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