Six Nations 2020: England Player Ratings Versus France

Ben Youngs

After a complete damp squib of a performance from England, the pressure is now on to come back strong next week and ensure that, following the disappointment of the World Cup final, England fans aren’t timidly waving goodbye to another tournament so soon after. Whilst some players had good moments individually, the collective performance was the worst since 2018. There were a multitude of factors for this, but individual errors proved very costly and this is reflected in the scores below.

15. George Furbank – 4
I was incredibly excited about seeing him in an England shirt and he should definitely get a run to show what he can do, but he had very little opportunity to showcase his abilities. He made some basic errors, albeit in tricky conditions. Under the high ball and in defence, he did a job, but never really convinced.

14. Jonny May – 8
Was well shackled for most of the game and struggled to make an impact. Defensively it wasn’t his strongest showing either. However, his magic dragged England back into the game and it would have been a lot worse without him.

13. Mani Tuilagi – 6
Went off injured early after making a relatively positive start. His physical ball carrying was dearly missed in the back line.

12. Owen Farrell – 3
My main concern with Farrell is that he is brilliant 4 games out of 5 and then goes completely missing for the other. This was the other. He made uncharacteristic errors and didn’t hold the defensive line together as well as normal. Would have been a lower score if it weren’t for his kicking.

11. Eliot Daly – 4
Apart from an excellent pass that opened up a small enough gap for May to exploit, he was kept very quiet. Mostly did his job under the high ball and in defence, but the couple of mistakes drags his score below the par-5.

10. George Ford – 5
Marshalled the game reasonably, but never fully controlled it with his tactical kicking in the way that he can. Defended well enough and a nice touch finder ensure that his score wasn’t as low as some others in the back line.

9. Ben Youngs – 2
Slow in service, lacked control, kicking wasn’t great, poor passing and a missed tackle that led to a try. I have always quite liked Youngs and when he is on song he can make England tick, but this showing proved that his best days are well in the past and another option is required.

1. Joe Marler – 7
England’s resident comedian wasn’t in the mood for joking around in the scrum or the tackle. He was one of only a few to stamp his authority on the game.

2. George – 5
Decent enough line out success rate considering the conditions. He was industrious without ever making a telling impact going forward or in defence.

3. Kyle Sinckler – 5
Solid in the scrum as you would expect and never one to shy away from the battle when tackling. However, England could have done with a bit more of his ball carrying ballast with our other options not on the field.

4. Mari Itoje – 5
Good in the line out as he managed a steal and to be a general nuisance. Led England’s pack well in defence and was able to stamp authority in the hit. Poor going forward. He never carried with any real intensity and coughed up ball.

5. Charlie Ewels – 4
Definitely worth giving him a go, but did not convince and with England’s wealth of talent in the second row, may not get many other chances. Spilled the ball and stealing a line out were his most memorable moments.

6. Courtney Lawes – 5
Powerful in defence, as you would expect from the human torpedo. Was all hustle with little bustle in his carrying. Always gives it his all no matter where he is picked, but flanker is not his best position and that was clear.

7. Sam Underhill – 6
Another who gave everything but got little change from his French counterparts. He didn’t managed to dominate the tackle or the ruck like he can.

8. Tom Curry – 4
Probably his weakest performance in an England shirt. England need a specialist 8 so that he can play in his best position. He didn’t have the brutal, rampaging runs that are expected. His qualities were nullified by the extra work he had to do in areas he is less comfortable in.

Bench – 7
The bench were a big reason England managed to gain a bit of momentum late on. Ellis Genge, Luke Cowan-Dickie, George Kruis, Lewis Ludlam and Willi Heinz (minus his ridiculous knock on) all made a positive impact in the time they had. Jonathan Joseph was on early, but too often ran sideways and was easily restrained.

As a reminder, here are the vague definitions for each rating:

10 – World-class performance
9 – Excellent
8 – Very good
7 – Quite good
6 – Solid performance
5 – Average
4 – Off the boil
3 – Poor
2 – Very bad
1 – Horror show

What did you think? A fair reflection of a poor England performance?

By Joe Large

45 thoughts on “Six Nations 2020: England Player Ratings Versus France

  1. We all said it many times
    Why Youngs?
    Why no 8’s in the squad?
    Why are we playing locks at flanker when we have so may great flankers available?
    Why is Farrell captain?
    Who is our best option at fullback?

    This was a game where all those questions remain unanswered

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    1. England need some big carriers…obvious to everyone, but since the NZ win they’ve started to think they play an amazing all court game…wrong. England are at their best with 3/4/5 big carrier too allow Ford farell to run the game and may to exploit space . lawes to 5, curry to 7 dombrandt or earl or simmonds even to 8 – mako back in squad, thorley into back 3, daly (reluctantly) to full back while we wait for watson to return. devoto given a start with JJ. farrell dropped? or one more chance, but at 10. anything other than great and i would drop him ford has been better for the last 10 tests (captaincy weighs too much)

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    2. I agree with most of your points, but…

      The additional lock at flanker did actually benefit our set piece. I don’t have the stats to hand but we disrupted quite a few French line outs. Coupled with what was some decent tactical kicking, we set up some nice positions. It could have worked if we had a true 8. But the lack of an 8 and the loss of our ball carrying back prevented us capitalising on this!

      1. Henno, the additional lock at flanker also gave a try away. England couldn’t break the French goal line. Even Curry coffeed it in their 1st line drive. Then Furbank. France could & did break England’s line yesterday. Utilised their back line & fwds in turn. England dived straight into the back of the French ruck just before conceding their 1st try. Indisipline. Game over at 1/2 time. France were on the front foot for 3/4ers of the game. How would a different 8 have made a significant difference? England needed better decision makers. The ability to hang in to it might also have helped.

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    3. Jones still has a second rate fledgling at no.15
      A loos forward at no 8 and a could be good no 10 ?? Daly had a poor game and there are better wingers about ?

  2. MJ, what game were you watching yesterday? England DID use big ball carriers yesterday. They too booted it on to Bouthier’s head, also aimlessly & inappropriately at times when they needed points. So what all court game? It was only when the game was afoot near the last 1/4 did they really run it. Previously they kept doing what wasn’t working & they were unable to adapt, until Jonny May popped up. Predictable? Shawn Edwards must have loved it.

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    1. Whilst I agree with some poor kicking, particularly in the first half, no pressure on the french back 3 from kicks too long…but tell me who are these big ball carriers you refer too? Manu caused one or two issues in his 15 minutes, but sinckler went missing, curry underhill and lawes carried manfully, itoje was good defensively but anonymous carrying in international rugby terms they are not big ball carriers, they are excellent secondary carriers once vunipola’s, Launchbury and tuilagi have done their damage – france knew if they slowed there ball down we didn’t have anyone who could punch a hole – running it wasn’t an option early as too many players made mistakes (hence change full back and 10 or 12) – Dombrandt or even Hughes are the only big ball carrying men we have fit – i would have started thorley as well as apart from Manu he is the only real power funner in the backs

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      1. Lawes, front row, lesser extent some b/row like Curry, although not as big as Lawes admittedly & the locks ain’t lightweights. Probably heavier than any 8. That they may not have been as effective as desired is somewhat down to them & Shaun Edwards surely. To have had a fit BV available wouldn’t necessarily have changed the game. France tackled England out & made less errors. England had 6 goal line chances (I think) in the 1st 1/2. Couldn’t capitalise. Jones should have played a specialist 8, sure, but no fwd planning. Nevertheless he could have gone for Morgan, or even Hughes who you mention. However, no guarantees that they or even BV would have helped England prevail. Gotta credit French ‘D’ IMO. They also took most chances.

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        1. I’m sorry you are wrong Don…Lawes is not a big carrier, he is a huge tackler, but not a heavy ball carrier, he is tall and lean, takes some stopping of course, but he is not big carrier Marler is not a big carrier (although 1 or 2 decent carries), nor George, Sinckler is but as i said went missing and didnt ball carry hard once. the defence was good, but so it should be, there is a world of difference about tackling lawes curry and underhill vs vunipola x 2 and Launchbury – throw in Manu and Cokanasiga and you’re impossible to stop – so the team has to accept there are times when there is slow ball and you need big men who draw 2/3 defenders every time, dombrandt and hughes bring that, thorley brings that in the backs as does obviously manu, devoto can bring that too. My point is everyone has got excited that we are some great all court team when we beat NZ in a one off – england play their best rugby when they have 3/4 big heavy carrier s and then the secondary carrier (Curry underhill itoje, lawes) make major in roads due to the space created. look at that game in dublin last year, ireland couldn’t live with our heavy carriers, not one player in the pack would be his clubs primary ball carrier, whilst they all do it fairly well, its different gravy at test level. BV has looked off his game since returning from his last injury but the reality is he is 2/3 tackled 13/14 times a game and that takes its toll, other forwards – secondary carriers get the space as a result, the backs too – we dropped a lot of ball i agree, but i dont believe we genuinely tested their defence as we should have – with injuries you have to find the big men from somewhere else

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          1. MJ, here’s the England team v South Africa in the WC final: Elliot Daly; Anthony Watson, Manu Tuilagi, Owen Farrell, Jonny May, George Ford, Ben Youngs; Mako Vunipola, Jamie George, Kyle Sinckler, Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Billy Vunipola. This team contained all the ball carriers you mentioned. England had more territory & possession in the WC final game. Therefore, how am I wrong about an alleged lack of ball carrying ballast being responsible for the result v France?

  3. How was it a complete damp squib though? Sure England were outplayed for most of the match, but they did come back in the last 1/4, within 7 points, away. Difficult to gauge points, but think the bench, Genge in particular, maybe Kruis, featured as did May, although don’t believe the latter’s overall game rated an 8 which seem based on his 2 tries. Farrell was ordinary with errors to the fore, but how he is ‘brilliant’ in 4/5 is surely fanciful? 3 may be fair. Furbank’s 4 reflected a disappointing debut. Also a bit surprised at Curry’s 4. Maybe, but was he much better or worse than others like Itoje? Beats me. Ewels did seem anonymous, so 4 I suppose. Most seemed neither that bad, nor any really outstanding, so average of around 5 seems apt. Youngs, everyone’s favourite whipping boy, was undistinguished, but 2? Revenge call? Eddie Jones? 4? Or is that being unkind to 4? Hartley talked a sensible game. A 6, or 7? Been interesting to have had a comparison with the French scores and for a bit more objectivity.

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  4. I genuinely think Eddie is taking the piss now, so many problems, where do I start.

    1. Same old shit different suit, Ben Youngs’ ship sailed long ago yet somehow he clings Leonardo Di Caprioesque to the Titanic wreckage waiting for Winslet to finish him off, my Gran could give quicker service and she died 3 years ago, new scrum halves please.

    2. LAWES IS NOT A 6 & CURRY NOT AN 8!
    Why did the under 20s and Ladies teams win? Perhaps they picked and played the best players in each position, Curry back at 6, Lawes at Lock and ffs Dombrandt or Sam Simmonds at 8, it’s not rocket science.

    3. Furbank is class but shouldn’t of started at 15, lets hope this doesn’t ruin his international career.

    4. Farrell as captain, head goes down under the cosh and makes stupid rash decisions, keep at 12 no longer captain.

    5. Ford needs to be dropped totally or to the bench, time for the future and get Marcus Smith in.

    6. Have someone on the bench to change the game not all like for like changes, thank heavens for Jonny May who kicked on.

    Jesus Christ the Scots will be loving this…….

  5. Just curious; what is the anti people have against Jason Woodward at 15 on Quora. He is by far the best 15 in the prem!
    I realise he’s a kiwi so is it that people have a purist English player preference for the national team? Surely under the current rules anyway such a Woodward friendly pick would be fine!
    I’m interested in England winning, not losing (as per Saturday) so I would overturn any stone to marshal the right resources. I think Eddie should do the same or does he have an anti-Kiwi bias? Surely not because of Hartley, his ex-captain!
    I have mentioned the PI issue before ad infinitum on here and for me it would justify the selection of J Woodward……..all things being equal! The ABs have a trade surplus with ‘foreign player’ usage whereas we still have a ‘trade deficit’ to use EU trade language. All a question of numbers!

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    1. Best 15 in the prem? A hot take there, but I’m assuming you mean england qualified? If all are fit and 100% I would say Watson is my 15 of choice. Proven at international.
      Furbank, barring the two knock ons, actually played well. Positioning and taking of high kicks was good and made a solid cover tackle on Thomas, who’s certainly allusive.

      1. Sorry Jake, cant agree that Watson is a proven international full back. He has not played there often for England and when he did looked a poor substitute for Brown or Goode. The only thing that one could say was that he was a hell of a lot better than Daly and not so inclined to absent himself beneath the high ball or in tackle situations.

    2. Woodward’s too old for the nxt WC, so Jones won’t pick him. And you’re ranting again AD. ‘Foreign surplus’ bollocks. What that means in English or reality Gawd knows. Also, slagging off EJ left, right & centre now, when it wasn’t so long ago that you stated ‘In Eddie we trust’! What’s that all about? Actually, please don’t answer, it’ll be too excruciating.

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      1. If 29 is too old (32 for the WC) then I’m Father Xmas. Just my personal opinion. Depends how you look after yourself, an iota of luck and the rest is skill. Woodward has it in buckets so I’m sticking to my guns on this one. They don’t all have to be 21 to qualify or be selected for a WC team.
        “In EJ we trust!” Absolutely DP, for the last WC cycle that was certainly true of myself. No change there. If this current meandering style of selection continues though he will arrive at the same position in 2023 as he did in 2019 – short of the final furlong!
        Excruciating it’s gonna have to be. But……one thing I know DP is that you can take it.

        1. different positions have different longevity but generally at fullback pace is important we have seen performances drop off post 30 for most in that position

  6. Next week surely he’ll have to go for:

    Vunipola (JM wasn’t bad, but need more carrying); George; Sinkler; Itoje; Kruis; Curry; Underhill; Earl (with no No8s in squad, he’s the best placed); Heinz; Ford; May; Farrell; Tuilagi/JJ; Daly; Watson/Furbank

    Genge, Dickie, Stuart, Lawes, Ludlam, Youngs (sigh), Devoto, AN Other on bench?

    After the Scotland game, bring in Dombrant.

    1. Too left of field to start Genge? Man possessed when he came on.
      I would drop Sink, maybe the move to Bristol has was on his mind but he wasn’t at his best, a couple of times he caught the ball and essentially rolled over for the tackle. Think Stuart or Williams should be given a shot.
      Think Farrell and Daly should be given a West, Devoto and Thorley coming in to play their set positions.

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  7. My biggest worry is we will waste 2yrs of the so called 4yr World Cup cycle with Jones at the helm with his stubborness to continue with absurd selections and what seems certain players below par continuing to hold down their places.

    1. Agreed. He has said he is sticking with Curry at 8 for the next game and all of this has the feel of 2018 when he just refused to admit he was getting things wrong. I really am sick to death of this side of Eddie ie the childish stubborn- to- the- point- of -madness egomania. Often the beneficial changes only happen because his hand is forced not because he voluntarily makes them.
      Eddie got fired the year after taking Australia to the world cup final didn’t he? Starting to wonder if history is going to repeat itself.
      On another note, surely he can see that his Sarries players are in a bad place? Why heap the pressure on boasting inanely about brutality? It’s very poor man management.

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  8. One thing I would like to focus on in some defence of England is that many folk (and Don P in particular) keep referring to Englands lack of adapting to plan B, and decision makers able to change things up. It is a lot easier said than done to completely change up a game plan as you are relying on the collective all having the ability to do so, and more often than not IMO is the inability to effectively execute plan A correctly and individual errors that cause the bulk of the issues. England got into Frances red zone 4/5 times in the first half(?) and came away with nothing. This wasn’t down to plan A not working, it was lack of execution due to individual errors (assisted with a solid French D). If you look across all international teams the lack of plan B is common and often by the time teams see that Plan A is not working it is often too late and then you are also relying on the opposition going off the boil a little.

    To me this really just came down to a mix of poor selection but also simply the personnel not being good enough – good enough on the day or good enough full stop could be a debating topic!

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    1. You can’t completely change your approach but any intelligent side should be able to make tweaks.
      But England didn’t lose because there wasn’t a plan b. Plan a was good enough for us to win sufficient ball and to gain sufficient territory that we should have done more with it.
      Our failure to convert pressure inside the French 22 into points was telling.
      That said, the decision to go into a match of this nature without a recognised No 8 was an error that no senior coach should have made.

    2. Passing the ball instead of kicking it aimlessly & inappropriately when points are needed doesn’t require anything ‘collective’. Does a team have to repeat plan A x6 with ball carriers failing to score before the captain decides that it wasn’t working? Plan B? When in possession, there are 3 choices. Run, pass or kick. The former with wraps, dummy runners or back 3 entry might have constituted a plan B. I didn’t notice this on Sun.

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  9. Think you’ve got the numbers near spot on Joe.
    Though furbank had a mare with the knock ons I think he played well. Solid under the high ball and a good covering tackle on Thomas. I would bring Watson in for him though.
    Sinkler was really off his game imo, a few carries saw him just roll over and he seemed a bit lost at times.
    I don’t think Farrell at 12 works, the defence know he isn’t a threat ball in hand so charge him, he either throws a poor pass or gets tackled for a loss. England need a back to take the pass at the line and get over it. Devoto should’ve been given more time but England had turned it around so can see why is wasn’t changed sooner.
    I think England did well to turn it around in the 2nd half, it was evident when instead of box kicking the threw it to Ford for a cross field kick, French 15 was caught out of position and England earnt a defensive line out in good field position.

  10. Can we judge Furbank a failure when so many of his team mates let him and themselves down? Here is where I question Farrell’s captaincy again. I don’t but, did he give Furbank words of encouragement/an arm around the shoulder during the game? I suspect not as he tends to get lost inside his own head when the chips are down.
    Which brings us to the pachyderm in the lounge: Sarrygate.
    Given that so many of England’s best players come from the Fez heads and given that Ed has broadly imposed their style of play on the national team, is it coincidence that we were so disjointed, especially in the first half yesterday? Jones comment about feeling sorry for ourselves was very telling IMo and may well come back to haunt him if the performances continue to be so dim. Ignoring the morality of the situation, a lot of Sarries players have reached a huge crossroads in their careers. Distraction is only to be expected when you are examining how and where the rest of your club career takes place.
    Should Ed go left field and minimise the number of Saracens involved for the time being at least?

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    1. Well the Sarries players are probably at a very low ebb. They are part of the wolfpack everyone in it together mentally of Sarries and many have spent their entire careers playing there. Now they have no idea where they are going to be playing or moving to. It’s extremely hard to quantify what the effect on the individual players is going to be once they stop playing with each other week in week out. Also they get insults yelled at them everywhere they go. Faz looked like a shadow of himself and George looked pretty miserable. The one who seemed most ok was Kruis, who had no business being stuck on the bench while Ewels was utterly anonymous.
      I don’t know how you handle it but think they should be given the Scotland game to prove themselves. Eddie can’t just drop them all as they are the centre of the team and that would hardly be good man management. However Faz is so obviously off colour and bloody miserable that it’s pretty obvious he can’t function as England captain and Eddie probably should give it to someone else on a temporary basis. Dunno who?
      Given the mess the squad is in it really is pretty damn stupid of him to be playing Curry and Lawes out of position and messing up the big success story of the world cup which is Cunderhill. Let’s destroy Curry’s confidence as well shall we?
      I despair of Eddie sometimes.
      I don’t think he should play Furbank at Murrayfield as that could be a disaster.

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      1. So should Farrell be on the bench against the Jocks or out of the 23 altogether?
        I’d keep Kruis in there, Ewels was lightweight and Maro was spasmodic so Kruisers heft and attitude are a must for me.

    2. Agree with you Acee on furbank, not sure he was that bad, especially in comparison.
      I’d stop short of suggesting Farrell didn’t encourage him though, we’ll never know the details of their conversations.

      1. Fair do’s Jake. I take the point and i’m not just sticking the boot into Faz for the sake of it. As you say, we aren’t party to what goes on during the game.

  11. Firstly credit to France. They have underperformed for a while but Sean Edwards had them properly fired up. England were off the boil. Mentally they weren’t quite on it, particularly the Sarries boys. Not playing a proper 8 was a mistake.

  12. The French took the wind out of England’s sails with their defence, Your team was totally flummoxed. Farrell had a shocker, it happens. Itoje was good in the lineout, made a couple of tackles, but did not look interested in carrying the ball. One thing you fellows must realise is that the French got to the stadium with one thing in mind, “winning that game”. Nothing else would do. I have no idea if they can carry that attitude thru’ the next 4 rounds. Only time will tell.

  13. Team V the jocks: Watson (if fit), May, Thorley, Devoto, Faz, Williams, George, Genge, U/Hill, Earl, Curry, Kruis, Itoje, Heinz, Ford.

  14. The basic fundamental problem is Jones.I suspect the rwc final has scarred him for life and he needs psychological help as much as the players.We are likely to finish up 4/5th in 6N.With only a year to go he may just quit.That is probably the best outcome with 3 years to next rwc.
    Selection/preparation/mindset in England camp right now all wrong

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  15. MJ, Lawes and Itoje are 18 stone, 115 kg’s. How heavy does a ball carrier have to be FCOL? Mako & Kruis are both 19 st. I think MV is considered a ball carrier, so why not Kruis too? Ok, so BV is 20 st, but would his extra stone have made the difference on Sun with the way France tackled? Are you stating that a ball carrier, a player has to be 20 st +? If a bit more ballast was required, then couldn’t Kruis have replaced the lightweight, 17 st, Ewells early on. Besides Sinckler is also 19 st, Marler as nr as dammit the same. Launchbury is just under 19 st, but he doesn’t usually play, nor does Cocka. I think this impossible to stop stuff is more of a dream team fantasy than reality. Did all of these play v NZ.. or SA? Personally, I think this is very NH, English thinking. ireland also beat NZ in Dublin, Chicago as I keep being told. Did they have 20 st bruisers aboard. NZ beat SA in the WC. Did the Saffas not have enough heft then? What about the final. Did England’s ball carriers suddenly all get fatigued? There are other factors involved besides having behemoths in a team. Like having ball players across the park in
    when in attack, tackling technique in ‘D’, for predictable route oners.

  16. Honestly, it never fails to amaze me that England have the ability to go from Sublime to under whelming. It’s time to build another team.
    In. 66, the footballers lost 2 nil to Scotland the next game after the WC final. In 2003, the game after WC final, the rugby lads got their asses handed to them by Australia.
    In 2005 lions tour, Woodward relied on a 2003 WC winning Nucleus and we know what happened there.
    I would like to see young players coming in and getting bloodied.
    Every team has its time. They got to the final with some great performances but that time has gone.
    Some of this team will make the Lions on their own merit but England need to concentrate on building a team for 2023.
    I don’t think that( obviously) Youngs, Heinz, Kruis, Mako, Billy, Tuilagi, Joseph, Daly, Laws, Cole, Farrell, Noel, Launchbury, Sinkler( looked intimidated on Sunday), Marler are going to be effective enough in 2023.
    We’ve got to start looking at other options now. I want to see the team develop.
    To end my rant, it’s a great pity that the proud Englishman, Sean Edwards, didn’t have a face that fit.

  17. Lawes doesn’t have the ‘bust through a tackle’ ability that is needed at the top level any more. Good line out jumper, great tackler and even some pace about the park, but a Du Toit ability to ‘break through’ tackles and bodies and make metres he ain’t got.
    That means have him at second row by all means but nowhere else! Earl or Dombrandt (body mass, strength and tackle-breaking ability in buckets) at 8 and 6 & 7 can be fought out between Ted Hill, Curry and Underhill. SOME competition for the Cunderhill duo is needed otherwise, like Billy, those two positions will go stale.
    Furbank gets ONE more opportunity against the Scots in my playbook (lesser opposition – no offence meant – that surely a novice 15 can show his wares against!)
    If its a case of finding a SHORT-TERM competent 15, then at least have a look at Woodward, because I can assure everyone on here, that at the ‘OH-SO-ANCIENT’ age of 29, I think Mr Woodward from NZ can cope for 12 months more without having a coronary on the park. After all he’s a Kiwi isn’t he – he’s as tough as teak!

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