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Happy New Year From The Rugby Blog

Happy new year, happy new decade, and here’s to a new start in 2020.

Happy new year! Happy new decade!

Hopefully you had a good festive break, and Father Christmas delivered what you asked for.

I ran out of steam at the end of 2019, with a World Cup hangover made worse by the Premiership salary cap scandal, but having had some time off – there was a whole week in which I didn’t even open my laptop – I’m back and excited for 2020.

I made it to Kingsholm just before Christmas, but missed the Big Game this year and haven’t really watched any other matches taking place over the last few weeks. As a fan, I felt like I needed that separation – imagine how the players involved in the World Cup must feel, having been going non-stop for well over a year now.

But 2020 should be good, with an intriguing post-RWC Six Nations just a few weeks away. It was an odd period after the World Cup, with no major fallout with firings, resignations, investigations and recriminations, as there had been in both 2015 and 2011 – and to some extent 2007 – and there was obviously no victory parade. Just Eddie Jones saying that maybe he should have picked Joe Marler for the final.

The degree of change in the England squad to be announced shortly will be fascinating. Will we see a raft a new faces, or will it largely be the same squad, building on their experiences in Japan and determined to dominate for the next four years? Probably a bit of both.

I’m also more optimistic about the Premiership, with the news that Nigel Wray has ‘retired’. Don’t get me wrong, Wray has had a huge, positive impact on the game, taking it to a much more professional level at Saracens and beyond, but something had to change. If things had carried on as they were, it would have been a farce, but perhaps this is the start of the major changes required.

So here’s to the new year, the new decade and a new start. I hope it’s a great one for you and your families.


22 replies on “Happy New Year From The Rugby Blog”

Cheers Hutch. Looking forward to an article on England’s options for the 6 Nations, it will be interesting!


Agreed on this article and your sentiments are shared by me. I am still in need of separation , despite what promises to be a really interesting Guiness Premiership , at both top and bottom of the table.

I also really hope that the Rugby Championship can find some sort of formula that brings back the glory days of the late nineties and early noughties. With Geographies an issue , I have no idea what that formula looks like though.

Happy New Year to all!
My number one hope for the 6 Nations is that we finally blood not just 1 but 2 new scrum halves, one of them being Spencer. I read that Eddie has found a South African scrum coach so I hope to see Mako improve his scrummaging and I don’t want to see Cole anywhere near the side. Also hope we sort out the full.back quandary and maybe even give Daly a go in his club position. We have a very strong nucleus of players to build a side around so I am excited!


Happy New Year The Rugby Blog.

For me if England don’t do the Grand Slam again then when will we, Ireland, Wales and France will be getting used to new coaching regimes and we arguably have the two most difficult sides at home.

One of the things that I feel lost England the World Cup final was that England have choked when potentially being in Grand Slam winning positions, time to exorcise the demons boys.

I think anything less than a Grand Slam is failure for this current England set up. I don’t mean that in an arrogant way or any disrespect to the other sides but just simply an obversation of where the other sides are at in their transition (and based on what I saw at the RWC). France a potential banana skin. Success could also depend on how deep the scars are from the beating up SA gave us and how we crumbled under the expectation/big moment.

Can anyone think of a side which hasn’t gone to pieces when their scrum is decimated in a big game? I don’t have the knowledge of many on here but I can remember England playing Ireland at HQ under Bomber and the Irish scrum being mullered. The Irish team reacted in exactly the same way we did by dropping balls and making elementary handling errors. You simply can’t win big games with a scrum which is getting destroyed.
Eddie shouldn’t have taken Cole in the first place! As soon as Kyle went off I thought we would lose badly. Plus the scrum half fiasco really got found out that game which was also entirely of Eddie’s making.

Fair comment Bolter….but how were the scrums awarded in the first place? By our mistakes and handling errors! Admit that was it one(?) we lost against the head but apart from that it was not just the scrum that was our downfall. It was a collectively poor show IMO


Hope it’s a HNY, within rugby anyway. Wray’s runner a happy event? With Williams also exiting Saracens, will more follow? Not so happy an event. Also, if so, how will this affect England?

Don’t expect many changes within the national side, although the universally scapegoated Nat King Cole will likely drop through the trapdoor like Cameron. Probably some new face/s at 1/2, although will Youngs actually be fired? Jones needn’t make immediate changes, but must consider whom will be around in 4 yrs. Will he himself be around? Likely depend on the nxt 2 6N. Possibly needs 2 wins, or at least pretty convincing performances in both. Most of the pack seem settled for now, but some fresh injections at prop, 8, lock? Will Marler ‘retire’ again? Decision on fly 1/2 will again dictate mid field. Does Jones rotate Ford, Farrell? Stick with 1 or both? Tui & Slade at centre, or Tui outside Farrell? JJ? Marchant? Replacement wing/s may be brought in. May may not be around in 4. And what to do about f/back.. still. Watson, or stick with Daly? Latter likely. A few same ol’ ?’s then.

Don’t understand the RC having to bring back so called glory days of 90’s etc. Although Aus have been somewhat erratic since the previous to last WC, SA & NZ currently top 2 ranked! Also why is geography such an issue? It’s always been an ‘issue’ hasn’t it? Only with Arg added & so, 1 extra away game.


comment ref the rugby championship was from a neutral perspective. i don’t think that NZ dominance has been particularly healthy and having as many as 3 (often one sided) bledisloe cups in a year can make the fixture seem somewhat over-done. in the 90’s / 00’s i felt that the teams (still the best in the world then, as they are now) were more evenly matched. again, this is entirely a personal observation so don’t shoot me in the face for it, but i use to wake up early to watch these exotic matches from the other side of the globe, now i don’t. incidentally this has nothing to do with standard of rugby or standings in the rankings.

ref geograhies, this was more concerning the talk of including japan – i think this would be a great thing, but the tournament already covers enough flight times as it is, chucking a journey up to Japan into the mix would make it really tough to schedule the fixtures and for fans to make it to away games.


Ok. Confused by ‘glory days’. Little NZ can do about that. Aus may improve under Rennie. New coaching set ups, altered RC teams may flatten balance out. Don’t know if Japan’s addition would benefit them or RC. Too weak, although initially at least, they could play opponents only at home, once each. One extra game for opposition teams. Don’t see this happening though. Divi RC into 2? Winners play off, h & away? Don’t see this either. H & away format gives truer reflection of teams’ status however.


I’d love to see Australia improve, although in the short term I get a horrible feeling that it is a sport in decline over there. Unable to keep up with NRL / RL, stained by Falau and their national team has been consistently beaten by their major rivals in recent years (NZ primarily and Eng recently). I do, sincerely, hope I am wrong.

I am an advocate of relegation and promotion in the 6N’s (or at least with a play-off game between the top and bottom teams respectively), so perhaps the same could apply in the RC / Southern Hemisphere. Tier 1 league of (initially) NZ, Aus, SA – Tier 2 of Arg, Japan, Fiji (?) – could even add in a Tier 3 including Samoa, USA, Tonga, Canada etc… It could be a great incentive for those developing and well resourced nations (thinking Japan, USA) if the carrot was that one day they could be in Tier 1…

I have been a bit preachy on this blog recently about this but all of the above should follow the ‘less is more’ idea and re-romanticizing the fixture list.

Still some lingering PTSD following the WC final it seems. Also still a few misconceptions? Any lessons learned? Old stuff, but worth revisiting?

Allegations agin the Beast notwithstanding, England were vulnerable against the head & for sure this didn’t help. However, they won most of their own scrum ball didn’t they? Had 56% territory, possession. Enough to win.. or lose it. Still in at 12, 6 down by 1/2 time & which 1 try could have turned over. Farrell’s miss was also unhelpful, but not fatal. Nor necessarily were the dropped balls, awry passes, although again they were an additional hindrance & a likely sign of pressure. For me though, it was more a lack of TCUP with decision making. In a game where tries were as rare as rocking horse Scooby do, England declined, just prior to & after 1/2 time, to go for it. Instead they took the conservative points. Didn’t really fire a shot. Neither Jones nor captain Farrell, had the heart or nous to make the big decision to have a real go. In tight ones, there sometimes come opportunities, to firstly be recognised, then grasped. England couldn’t do either.. when it mattered. Didn’t give themselves a chance. Even if they hadn’t come off, at those points in the match, what did they have to lose? They died wondering IMO. And in the last 1/4? Well that’s (was possibly preventable) history now.

It’s oft stated after such events that teams ‘learn lessons’, but what lesson/s & have England learnt any? Jones couldn’t explain the result afterwards, but somehow he’s going to have find answers in future on decision making under pressure. But will he? Can he? For England to go up a stage, I think he must.

One lesson I’m sure Eddie will have learned is that he needs a new scrum half.
Number two – he’ll hopefully introduce some competition for that full-back position. My fave would be Woodward but others will have their preferences!
Thirdly – he needs to chuck Cole who’s served his time.
Fourthly – to give Cokanasiga more international game-time.
Love to hear others’ ideas!

AD, recall yr previously stating prior to the WC; ‘in Eddie we trust’. Have you had 2nd thoughts? Does a leopard change it’s spots?

The 1/2back lesson was there to be heeded long before the WC. Others here have testified to this. Jury’s out, but will Jones chuck Youngs, or fudge by bringing in back up new faces like Spencer?

2ndly, I know you love Kiwis, but does Jones & will he add Woodward to the fullback mix? Again, had a chance to do so before the WC. Personally, I think Daly will have to break both legs. EJ has his fixations. JW may get cover call up, but meaningful game time? Again, jury’s out. Still a dilemma position.

Regrds Cole, never rated him for his lying on, conceding pens. However, if you & England scapegoat him for the final result, then you may need a rethink. Stated before that England had more possession, territory, but made errors, wrong decisions by going for pens, not tries. These were not Cole’s fault. Jones will likely inject other tight heads; Williams, Brookes, Collier, Schonert, Hill, Cooper-Woolley, Alo, although some may be unavailable including, you’ve guessed it, Sinckler?

In respect of Joe Coka, he does need worthwhile game time, but can he be trusted at top level on ‘D’? Other thrusters about like Thorley, Rees-Zammit.

Other elsewhere aforementioned issues to be addressed concern fly1/2, midfield, lock (Kruis is off to Japan), alt No. 8, not to mention the no arms tackling, accident waiting to happen, kapitan.


Don you know I’m not a scape-goater….more an on the chin type! I’m just saying that I agree with you (things can change Don) that Cole’s no longer good enough. You are right that were he to go it would be one game too late or is that 5?
I do love Kiwis and their rugby, I’m just a touchy son of a b*tch when it comes to England and as keen on them as a Welshman is of the Welsh! I hear Spencer is playing at the moment according to the Times I think.
Over to you!

Monday afternoon still waiting for the round up of the weekends action. 3 articles in 13 days i think you need another holiday before the 6N starts Hutch

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