Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus France

Mark Wilson

England have righted past wrongs and exorcised their demons during a stellar start to the 2019 Six Nations Championship. As the outstanding side in the opening rounds of the competition, Eddie Jones’ cohort cemented their newfound position as tournament-favourites with a vintage display against a weary French side. Here, we look at the performances of the England’s players performed at Twickenham on Sunday.

Mako Vunipola – 8

One of the key men leading this England resurgence, Vunipola has shown himself to be world-class in multiple areas of the game. His work with ball-in-hand kept the opposition occupied, whilst he had a clear edge over Demba Bamba at scrum-time. He stamped England’s authority on the match in the first minute, forcing a turnover with a sizeable tackle. Let’s hope his substitution for an apparent injury was merely a precaution.

Jamie George – 7
Consistency is the name of the game for Jamie George. Yet again, he showed himself to be effective at hooker, further strengthening his position in Jones’ starting XV. George’s accuracy at the set-piece is essential in providing the backs with structure and stability, whilst his mobility helps him plough through shedloads of work.

Kyle Sinckler – 7.5
Like his fellow front-rowers, Sinckler was in fine form for England at Twickenham. More than just a powerful runner for puncturing defences, the Harlequin has intelligence to his play and the accompanying deft hands to free up space for his teammates. This encounter with the French showcased his abilities in this regard.

Courtney Lawes – 8.5
This was an exhibition of precisely what Courtney Lawes adds to a side. He carried hard in traffic, was a menace for the opposition lineout, and left attackers shuddering when they ran into him – Mathieu Bastareaud, in particular, will be avoiding the towering lock. That Maro Itoje’s absence was not at all felt against the French stands testament to Lawes’ immaculate showing; those boots take a lot of filling, indeed.

George Kruis – 6
In a similar fashion to last week, Kruis’ value lay in doing the unglamorous work for his side. Solid in the lineouts, sound in defence, and a willing worker around the park; this was a standard performance from the Saracens man. However, he may need to add more to his all-round game with the huge competition in the second-row right now.

Mark Wilson – 8
In Dublin, Wilson was a man-possessed. Back at Twickenham, he was equally influential for England, though with perhaps a little less intensity. Nevertheless, Wilson was hugely impressive; his tenacity and power as a tackler adds real steel to the England defence. His work-rate and desire will both spur on teammates and please Jones’ coaching set-up.

Tom Curry – 8
Curry provided the iconic image from this round of fixtures as cameras caught him stood panting, painted in his own blood. The picture encapsulates how Curry played against France; dogged and effective, les bleus were unable to prevent him constantly disrupting their play. Like Wilson, he is becoming a leader of England’s defensive efforts.

Billy Vunipola – 6.5
Billy underlined his importance without sparkling this week. Often cited for his physical attributes, his reading of France’s kicks and ability to cover the backfield showed he has a shrewd, tactical mind, too. Bruising but not brilliant, Billy did what was necessary.

Ben Youngs – 7
It was always going to be difficult to match the level of performance he reached last week. However, Youngs still kept his backs well-organised and maintained quality ball-service for them. Youngs’ kicking game seemed slightly off, but perhaps that is only when contrasted with its excellence in Dublin.

Owen Farrell – 8.5
A second-half try was a fitting way for Farrell to cap an accomplished display. The French backline struggled to cope with the variety he brought to his play, with his stabs- and chips-ahead causing chaos for Yoann Huget and co. It was these kicks – consistently creating fine attacking positions – that really took the contest beyond the visitors, helping to secure a relatively straightforward bonus-point.

Jonny May – 9 (MOTM)
The link-play between May and the England halfbacks was crucial in toppling the Irish last time out, and it proved central again this week. With Youngs and Farrell engineering opportunities at will, a winger with May’s skillset was always going to prosper. His remarkable pace and clinical finishing helped take advantage of the well-weighted kicks and open-spaces that came his way.

Manu Tuilagi – 6.5
Despite preventing a probable try for the French, Tuilagi had a quiet game by his standards. The highly-anticipated clash with Bastareaud never truly emerged. He is another that will hope to have more of an impact in the future; this is understandable given that he is still easing his way back onto the International scene.

Henry Slade – 8
Slade is the perfect man to bridge the gap between the power of Tuilagi on his inside and the pace of May on his out. He has a pair of hands to bamboozle defences and carve out opportunities for teammates, whilst he himself also poses a readily-apparent threat to the try-line. His aerial prowess led to a number of chances for his side, showing that he has much more to offer than your average playmaker.

Chris Ashton – 6
Six long years have passed since Ashton last started in Six Nations… and he duly receives a six-out-of-ten for his showing. Unfortunately for him, England favoured attacking down May’s wing, leaving the Sale Shark with little to feed off. He looked hungry and threatening when he did get a chance, but these came too few and far between to leave a lasting impact on the encounter.

Elliot Daly – 7.5
England’s first try demonstrates what Daly brings to the fullback shirt. His swift counter-attack in the opening stages set the tone for the day, giving England a platform from which to build their lead. His work under the high-ball had been questioned after last week, but he looked assured and capable on Sunday.


Ben Moon – 6.5
In terms of the scrums, Moon picked up where Vunipola left off. His abilities as a scrummager are well-known, so it was unsurprising to see him keep that area of the game on lock-down.

Luke Cowan-Dickie – 7
Vigorous and energetic as ever, Cowan-Dickie will be useful for helping to see out future games. Whenever he is brought off the bench, he seems to add intensity to the forwards and this was the case against France.

Dan Cole – 7
On his return to the international arena, Cole was typically reliable. There was nothing flashy in his game; everything was industrious and robust, everything one wants in a tighthead.

Joe Launchbury – 7.5
His tackle-count of eleven is immense for a substitute lock. He is evidently a man with a point to prove and he certainly did so when given the opportunity. Don’t be surprised to see him included against the Welsh.

Nathan Hughes – 6.5
Hughes fits the bill as a ‘finisher’ for Eddie Jones. He brings dynamism and impetus when he comes off the bench, both of which are useful in seeing out a game. A few offloads caught the eye here, suggesting a more delicate aspect to the backrower’s game.

Dan Robson – n/a
Why did Eddie Jones leave it so late to bring Robson on for his debut?

George Ford – 6
With the game wrapped-up by the time he took to the field, Ford had little work to do. Far from disappointing, but unlikely to threaten the starting positions of those ahead of him.

Jack Nowell – 6
Nowell had much the same problem as Ashton, a lack of ball preventing him from truly asserting himself. When ball did come his way he looked sharp, but ultimately this didn’t happen often enough.

By Ed Alexander

43 thoughts on “Six Nations 2019: England Player Ratings Versus France

  1. Have to say that I have been very impressed by our starting front row in the set piece. I thought that we were going to struggle in the 6N in this aspect. Ireland and France both have very good front rows and we have edged them. Lets hope we get a repeat performance against Wales. Cole, Moon & LCD on the bench doesn’t weaken this aspect at all, although we probably lose a bit of dynamism in the props.

    Thought Robson played quite well in his cameo.

    Not really disputing your marks this week!

  2. I’d be interested to see the stats on line outs before and after Kruis’ substitution.

    Off the top of my head I think England lost at least two afterwards. Not sure whether LCD or George was the hooker at that point.

    Because in terms of everything else – of the 4 locks in the squad Kruis is the least of them in all the other areas of the pitch. All I can assume is that his lineout nous must be the reason.

    1. LCD was the thrower for both those lost lineouts and seems to consistently struggle with that aspect the game. That said he was excellent in the loose.
      Hartley should get back into the squad just based on that

      1. Hartley is about the sixth best hooker in England and should not get close to getting back in this squad. We have, moved on, and he has not got the devil or speed of George, Cowan-Dickie, Dunne, Yeandle or several others.

        1. It always amuses me to see these sort of comments from the anti Hartley brigade.
          He is our second best hooker and he has the best set piece of all our available hookers. Just because he is not as dynamic ball in hand many seem to rule him out. Once fit he will slot straight back into the squad

          1. Probably has the most reliable throw under pressure but his tight play is hugely over-rated. Watch the way that Saints get mangled on a regular basis in the Premiership and Hartley´s head keeps popping out of the middle. You are right, I have never liked Hartley who I think is a cheap shot merchant, but regardless of that I don´t think he is good enough. We have won the last couple of games through dynamism. If you admit he has not got it then pick someone who has, Unfortunately I think you are right that he will be back when fit, but I think it is a retrograde step Leon.

            1. On current evidence, his absence is hardly affecting or ability to win games. That must be the single biggest factor mitigating against him?
              My three hookers for Japan would be George,Singleton and Possibly T Youngs or Yeandle. LCd will probably get the nod but , like others , I have concerns about his throwing.

            2. Andy. ‘Infamy, he’s got it in for me’, cried Hartley when I last spoke to him about yr opinion on his abilities! Cripes, A, you’re as bad as my mother. She never forgave people either! Pointed out before that DH hasn’t transgressed under Jones & that’s for been over 3 yrs now. Wonder if you apply the same criteria to Tui? Remember when he got onto Top of the Pops after he king hit England team mate Ashton? Blimey, if he’d done that on the street, he’d could’ve been jailed! Of course he also acted as dumb as a rock when he jumped into the harbour, again risking legal sanction. Do you also think similarly about him? Hartley has attributes I’ve covered elsewhere, but which you, although, thus far, not EJ, choose to ignore. Too emotive in yr thinking.

        2. Andy. And he’s not English!? He hits his line outs, is aggressive, leads by e.g. , keeps on side with the ref & certainly doesn’t ‘shriek @ them, nor does he put his team @ risk with late shoulder charges. He has also ketp a clean sheet under Jones. George may be this, that & the other, but under pressure, he has this undermining tendency to miss HIS line outs. Wanna risk be exposed in the away WC cauldron?

          1. Has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he is a Kiwi Don. Would he get anywhere near the NZ squad? No. Would he get picked as first choice hooker for any of the other six nations teams? Not in my opinion. Has he been sent off on several occasions for foul play? Yes, and deservedly so. He brings nothing that others don’t bring more of apart from an ability to hit jumpers and land cheap shots on the blind side of the ref. If NZ want him back they are welcome to him, but I would much rather that England went forward without him.

            1. Obviously Andy, but what do you that think Jones sees in Hartley that you don’t? Why’s he stuck by him? Do you think that EJ’s a flake? Regards NZ, BTW, how many from the England set up would walk into their team? Yr ? seems rhetorical, not relevant, I think.

              1. I think his great virtue initially was that he was not tarred by the failure in the 2015 WC. I have a feeling he was suspended at the time, but whether it was for biting, gouging, punching or some other form of gratuitous assault I don’t recall. Presumably EJ rates his leadership skills and his ability to throw accurately but he hardly ever gets across the gain line and lacks impact. His carrying stats are often dismal. I admit there are some players that one simply doesn’t like, but compared to most of the hookers playing today Hartley is a set piece dinosaur in the same mould as Dan Cole. The game has moved on, he has little time left to prove his fitness and there are now better players in his position. I feel much the same about Chris Robshaw, who has always been one of my favourite players but will, I think, struggle to get back. As to how many England players would walk in to the NZ team, probably more if I was picking it than you were.

                1. Mmm, Andy, maybe you are the Gordon Ramsey of a Kiwi cooking. Was the cook book you bought an Edmonds one? In respect of Sinckler,
                  I read somewhere that he had a troubled youth. Suffered from anger issues. Hence my comments. What’s inconsistent? Also you seem to have an intransigent & unforgiving view about Hartley’s past which no amount of reasoning will shift, so won’t waste my time further on this 1. Also yr descriptions such as ‘you have feeling’ & ‘dinosaur’ , ‘the game has moved on’ are subjective & too vague to warrent objective response. Likewise, yr comment about England players walking into the NZ team are evasive.

      1. Boom tish! Don.

        Yeah. I just don’t know what added value he brings… so if it’s as a defensive. organiser or linevout expert? He tries hard but I don’t know where he stands out.

  3. I’d say George, Lawes, Curry and Wilson stood out up front, while May was a clear MoTM.
    The half backs kicked well but did miss opportunities to move the ball. Youngs service can be glacial.
    Ashton did little to justify his recall, and i felt that none of the bench offered a great deal. Robson really should have been brought on a lot sooner than he was. Remember we didnt score after the 56th minute so the new players contributed 0 points.

  4. I think Youngs was better than 7. He controlled the game really well, knew when to go quickly, and when to slow things down, and his quick tap led to a try.

  5. Agree with nearly all your marks but I’d have both Daly and Ashton higher at an 8 – Daly is such a creative threat in space and thought Ashton chased excellently, ran some great lines and his kick for May’s try showed skill we don’t always see from him. The penalty try would have been his score but for the illegal tackle on him without the ball

    1. I thought he was dead lucky to get awarded the penalty try Henry as it looked as if he had over-run the ball before he was touched.

  6. Always wondered how the players can be marked so. As the team as a whole played well enough, how are they actually marked & how can a.5 of a point be attributed to a particular player for instance? Understand that May’s x3 tries would elevate his markings up to a point, especially with his footwork in beating his counterpart on the outside. However, arguably with the others, they were, in part @ least, contributed to by team mates’ efforts in getting the ball to him. I, for 1, could only guess @ the points attributed, as I was looking @ the ‘rugby’ & have little idea of actual stats on carries, tackles, defenders beaten etc by individual players. Therefore I assume that these rating stats are based on some device or system that tracks each player’s, well plays, during a match. In any event, I’m not really in a position to dispute or confirm the above ratings, although I may have an impression of same for some individuals, so a tricky 1 for my money. Also, as a parting observation, England seemed to be going forward & had most possession (although I did see a stat during the game that stated that Fr had more possession, certainly @ 1 point!?), therefore it puts a certain slant, or bias, on ratings I think. If a team is going backwards, like, er, Fr (on the score board for sure), I wonder how their ratings would stack up then?

    1. Don, I think that you will find that these ratings are an opinion of a players performance in the game. There cannot be a mathematical formula, as different players have different roles, not just within the game but from game to game, so it wouldn’t work.

      It’s funny, but you’re not usually shy in giving an opinion!

      1. Staggy. Have my mo’s. It’s just that, with min 15 players to watch & rate during a match, how can you engage with the actual game if you’re looking out for stats, ratings. Maybe TRB secretly employs a woman observer who multi-tasks?!

    1. Timm. Yes. You can take the boy out of Battersea Ironsides, but you can’t takes the Battersea Ironsides out of the boy. Cure? Immediate anger management course. Perhaps he & I could attend together?

      1. What are you angry about Don? Have you lost your wooden spoon? Sinkler doesn’t need an anger management course he just needs to grow up a bit and realise that it is quite important that his team retains 15 players on the field.

        1. Andy. Anger @ over blown jingoism after 1 win & which was of gargantuan proportions. This sort of behaviour ought to be left to politicians when negotiating Brexit! Oops, forgot it is. Anyway, I find both repugnant. Sinckler does need anger management education. And also, If he had been grown up, he wouldn’t have needlessly attacked the head & pointlessly risked a yellow as you point out.

          1. Only in Rugby sure NZ collect there fair share in most other sports!

            Also Don is your going to use big words like jingoism here’s one for you hypocrisy. You have accused English fans of jingoism repeatedly then give even more stark examples of it about NZ its hilarious! Also if you watch or listen to any decent rugby program you’ll notice that people from all nations were heaping praise on England for that performance in Dublin so can we please just move on!

            1. Well Ben H, hello to you & welcome to TRB. The giveaway’s in the name. It’s a rugby site, so other sports are irrelevant, although didn’t NZ recently knock England off @ cricket? Whatever. Regds Jingoism (not that big a word), I was aiming more @ an article here, even if 1 particular fan here e.g., did opine that England were suddenly WC contenders after 1 Ireland win! Just seemed big headed to me. Decent & unexpected (to you too?) win sure, but I pointed out that stats favoured Ireland, therefore ‘D’ was poss a major factor in ‘W’? Seemed logical enough to me. I also pointed out it was 1 game. England have been here before, after 18, then 9. A bit of prudence might have been in order I’d have thought. Regds NZ, well find an Int’al article, posts without a mention of the AB’s here. Big hard to get away from! I mean you yrself mention NZ in yr opening para! Besides be diff for you not to mention England here wouldn’t it? Only natural, but works both ways methinks. Have to close now though BH, as I’m moving on. See you around.

          2. I bought a very good book called “Great NZ baking recipes” when I was there Don, and the wooden spoon was an integral part of the baker’ s armoury. Re Sinkler, I think your view is inconsistent. He is undisciplined rather than angry and a couple of red cards at International level might well teach him the error of his ways. You seem to feel that this is what has happened to Hartley. Do you think he tends to tackle after the ball has gone just because he gets to the point of contact as fast as he can but is no longer quick enough, or because he enjoys hitting people when they least expect it?

          3. Please don’t compare me to Gordon Ramsey Don. I prefer Hartley to him! The cookbook was by Lorraine Jacobs, 49 dollars in a,bookshop in Aukland and money well spent. As to my “generalisations” it is difficult to express too many specifics in one short post, but I suspect you get the general drift of my opinions more than you concede. With regard to my being “evasive” I plead guilty only in the sense that I don’t watch NZ club rugby as much as I do English. I have a good idea of who I rate in the Premiership and for England but less detailed knowledge of who is on fire, out of form, injured or out of favour in NZ. On that basis my selection of English players might well be higher than that of someone who knows the NZ game better. Would be grateful if you did not accuse me of being defensive for answering the points you have raised. These discussions are always better face to face over a couple of pints.

      2. Did Sinckler play for Battersea Ironsides? I played for them, admittedly for a short time and quite a few years ago. Bloody brilliant. Proper rugby club. Good times.

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