Wales 19 England 26: Initial Reaction

Toby Flood

England got their RBS 6 Nations campaign off to a flying start with a first victory in Cardiff since 2003. A brace of tries for Chris Ashton and a sublime performance from Toby Flood gave England fans plenty to cheer about in the Millennium Stadium.

The head-scratching continues for Wales after another disappointing, error-strewn performance, and the knives are being sharpened for Warren Gatland. What needs to change in the Wales camp?

Here are the post match interviews and in due course we’ll post our usual Player Ratings and other analysis during the week, but leave a comment here with your views as if you’re discussing it in the pub.

If you say something witty or insightful, it may appear in our new weekly column in The Rugby Paper on Sunday.

England Fly-Half and Man Of The Match, Toby Flood:


England Double Try Scorer, Chris Ashton:


England Captain, Gloucester’s Mike Tindall:


England Team Manager, Martin Johnson:


Wales’ James Hook:


Our thanks to Talking Rugby and the podcast for the audio reaction.

29 thoughts on “Wales 19 England 26: Initial Reaction

  1. We (Wales) play the same style, with the same results because we have players in key positions who stunningly predictable.
    Steve Jones…….when has ever made a break?
    Mike Philips……..I am going to run at your back row or pass badly and slowly.
    Back row individuals who do not play as a unit.
    Lee Byrne who kicks into touch when he should not and misses touch when he should find it.
    Hook at stand off, at least Jamie Roberts might get a pass in open space.
    Employ a forward coach with half a brain and someone as a top coach who can coach professional athletes to have more than one golf club in their bag.
    Is it a surprise we are second best also rans when our super regional teams have achieved bog all in ten years of Heineken Cup rugby?

  2. Personally if I in my job turned in a scorecard where my key result areas were missed continuously consistently (our national team are at best training fodder to sharpen the serious teams and our regions cannot even get out of the group stage of the Heineken) I would expect and deserve the sack.
    The Welsh RFU bosses should be ashamed. They sadden a nation who deserves better.

  3. It was, as expected the three quater defense that won it for us today. I thought Flood distributed the ball very nicely and deserved the man of the match. However he did miss the odd tackle. I though it was a wise desition from Jonno bringing Wilkinson on when he did. I may be wrong but i think i counted 11 tackles from Wilkinson in the relativly short time that he was on the field. I personaly think Sheriden underperformed and missed a few tackles but he no doubt featureed heavely in the scrum. Overall i think it was a very incouraging performace from England in terms of defence and there were a few backs, such as Flood and Ashten, who shined in atack.

  4. Thought Flood had a great game, his passing in the tackle was sublime. Wilko back to his old ways with some big hits all over the park. Wood had a good debut, thought Haskell was average at best. Youngs was a bit sloppy at times, making a few too many handling errors, not a problem today as Phillips and Jones were clueless but needs to sharpen up against the other teams.

    Oh a

  5. Very impressive win, a big ask to go over there and beat a Wales team with their backs against the wall. A good start, let’s not get over-confident against Italy.

    Couple of random thoughts about Wales: Mike Phillips truly is an awful scrum half, I’ve been saying it for years. Once again another poor performance. Pointless talking about Hook at 10 until they get rid of that dim plank. Powell carries on his brainless form, and most props are pacier than Ryan Jones. Bradley Davies is very good though, one of the few powerful ball carriers Wales have in the forwards.

  6. Not sure Tommy about the Highlights, maybe on Sunday night.

    A very enjoyable game, Flood was great, Ashton scored as he always does. I was hoping for a better scrum, but Wales were able to hold. Great moment at the start where Foden smashes into Stephen Jones, i never knew he had that physicality. And old Wilko was very solid, nothing flashy but some great tackling.

    I am looking forward to the next match today

  7. Message for MJ

    Overall, good result and I’m now starting to believe you when you say we’re building to something great. However, If you ever play Louis Deacon again, i will lose all respect for you and, in my opinion, you will deserve to lose your job!!!


  8. A messy game with some poor decision making on both sides. However both sides played with real passion and heart, making it a great game.
    My biggest issue was Hape who spent the whole game appealing to the ref and whinging…he did not play well enough to be allowed to whinge so much.
    Good defensive play by Tindall, probably his best game in a long time.

  9. Palmer had a strong game and I thought Deacon was pretty good too. Not sure where the before last comment comes from.

    Nice to finally have options and depth in the England squad.

  10. Wasn’t a bad game considering it was the first of the tournament, which can often be a bit flat (in fact I can even remember tournaments where the whole first round of matches were a bit flat).

    More positives than negatives for England. Good set piece and Easter and Wood were excellent. Poor game from Haskell, but he at least kept it clean.

    I’d like to know what Johnno sees in Hape. I assume he sees something but I’m not seeing it. Gave away a needless penalty for three points, but stepping up in the defensive line is unforgiveable – a leaguer should be even more well drilled in defending than his colleagues. When Jonny came on to steady the ship at the end I found myself wishing that Catty was five years younger and could come on with him!

    I thought the Wales yellow card was harsh, but then they got away with a trip scot free. I’m with Moore on tripping – should be a straight red every time for me. No one should be allowed to trip on a rugby field and think they can get away with just 10 minutes out. There’s no place for it in rugby, unlike in footie where you can just mistime a tackle. This is not just anti-Welsh feeling either – I said the same when Vickery tripped a USA player in RWC 2007.

    Wales are a shambles at the moment and it all points to Gatland. I bet Mike Ruddock wishes he’d been allowed to dine out on his Grand Slam for this long. No wins in 8, 6 of them in Cardiff, and most of them poor performances.

    In his interview he said he’s told the players to play with confidence and do the right things. You don’t just tell players to have confidence and expect them to magically go out there transformed! That’s not leadership or coaching. You have to get to the root causes and build people’s confidence back up – that’s what he’s highly paid to do!

    Wales have far better players than their performances and results deserve. I get what Garret and Paddy are saying above, but I can remember both Wales half backs playing far better, more imaginative rugby than this, not all that long ago. Granted, they will never be Gareth Edwards and Barry John, but they are capable of way better than this with better leadership.

    Room to improve for England, but a decent start. And Warren, please can you slag off Hartley every week for the rest of the 6N?

  11. PS When I say “in his interview” above, I’m referring to Gatland of course, not Mike Ruddock who I referred to in the previous paragraph.

    And when I refer to him “dining out” on his 2008 Grand Slam, I meant it figuratively, but I have to say he looks like he’s literally been dining out a lot too!

  12. It was a physical game, but England kept their cool which was good. Thought Hartley performed well, and silenced Gatland. Foden played well too, backing up his earlier comments.
    There were some moments of sloppiness but I think that we can only improve from here.

  13. Despite believing that Flood is the right choice above Wilko to start, I’ve never quite had faith in him as a “world class” ten. After last night, that’s changed. Regardless of any MOTM honours, his management of the backline and constant chat and marshalling of his troops was incredible.

    Feeding a ball, immediately shouting at his centres and full back as to where he wants them and in what order – top class. He is clearly a major reason we are able to find any sort of space when Johnno and the coaches seem to often have our three-quarters running so flat it’s hard to see how we manage to get any pace on the ball at all.

    I’ve a new found respect for Floody and how brilliant to have a mini-bullock like Wilko to come on and tackle anything that moves and be so perfectly metronomic in his kicking duties too.

    On the game as a whole, the Welsh forwards were better in the loose than the set piece, Jonathan Davies caused problems, Hape is underrated as he rarely loses posession and always gains yards, Hartley had his best game in months for club or country and the Six Nations is the best bloody tournament in world rugby.

    (oh alright, the RWC is bearable I suppose….)

  14. Not a bad game for openers. Harking on the dark side for the men in white…. they still value physicality over skills. Maybe Flood, Cueto and Foden can put a man into space but Hape is playing out of position and Tins will never be able to pass to the right under pressure. When teams match them for brawn and set piece niceties they will struggle.

  15. By the way – those Welsh chavs that booed Jonny on his way on to the pitch fully deserve to pay good money to watch crap, losing rugby. If your country ever produces a World Cup winning side, we’ll show you more respect rather than behave like football fans.

    That’s the nation that calls us English arrogant. Well done guys, it really put him off with his kicking!

  16. Palmer was great – he’s such an excellent defender. He was only just pipped to MOM by Flood. England struggled a bit when the forwards were close to the line – if anyone can watch Cooper Vuna’s try from the Rebels match on Saturday that is how to score from 5m out. Big run up, dive low, 4 defenders on your back, no stopping him. Watch out for him this season in Super 15’s – scored in every pre-season so far.

    Wales had a lot of opportunities with overlaps and they seemed to favour the grubber kick. That’s something they never used to do. I love the “give it to Shane” philosophy when chasing the game with 10mins to go. He’s still such a good player and very nearly created a late try.

  17. Excellent point by Bruce above. People have short memories, South Africa out muscled us in the Autumn.

    Which is why, and I hate to eat my words, Haskell (or Dowson…) can have a place in the team as he is a unit who tackles hard and gets over the gain line. hence adds a bit more than Moody who is a bit light.

    I think the time @ Stade has sorted his attitude out, ie stop doing your hair and get stuck in

    Our scrum will only be tested against the french, who quite simply have the best front row in world rugby.

    Do we lack one real ball player in midfield? I actually think id rather have Twelvetrees in a few years. Will Greenwood was raving about him after beating Italy A, and if Greenwood thinks you are a good centre……

    I am not convinced by Tindall. Part of me likes his defence & leadership, but part of me dislikes when he gets the ball its like watching someone in slow motion and he cant pass long.

    Greenwood wasnt that quick, so as a centre thats ok, but inability to pass isnt excusable. then again, BOD wasnt passing that well and hes still good.

    Where is my argument going?

    Bring Italy anyway, lets slaughter them.

  18. ive just read that THomas Domingo is 5.8 tall!!!

    I literally CANT wait for England v France and the first scrum.

  19. Really looking forward to the France game (at the risk of underestimating Italy!). The pack looked very strong, despite being lighter than the Scots – although the Scottish back row weren’t really pushing, so it’s hard to tell how good they’ll be.

    I don’t particularly fancy Ireland’s chances against them in the scrum, but I’d expect them to be a lot better this weekend.

  20. hutch – noone underestimates italy now, Italy are just difficult to play.

    I doubt it would have made a difference if the entire Scottish back line were on the back of the scrum!

    IF that French team turn up again, ireland will be for a proper roasting.

    i am contemplating buying an Italy shirt for Wales v Italy, please please please can Wales lose.

  21. I think Ireland will be a lot better than they were on Saturday. France were impressive in the scrum and on the break, but they don’t look invincible, and Ireland’s backs will have a good crack at them.

    England will benefit from seeing them play twice and going through all the video analysis they like to do. I’m quietly confident!

  22. An encouraging display. Need to be a bit more composed and patient when in their 22. We knocked on a couple of times i think when pushing for a try.

    I am very much confident in every aspect of our team – except the midfield.

    I know we’ve been saying it forever…. but this is one of the world midfields in world rugby.

    Something needs to change there. Flood-Wilkinson-Armitage perhaps?
    Not sure. But Tindall’s pass against Wales was unacceptable.

  23. With you there Matt, I’ve always reckoned Wilkinson’s best position was at 12 (as long as he resists shuffling across the pitch!) but we Brits have never fully got to grips with 5/8 role heaping all the pressure and kudos on the 10.

    In form Flutey is the best 12 around & we need to use Cueto or better still Simpson Daniel to add devil and ball playing skills in midfield attack.

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