Six Nations 2020: England Player Ratings Versus Ireland

Manu Tuilagi

The title challenge is back on track. After an opening couple of rounds for England that lacked in fireworks, the hosts put in a performance that put them right back in the mix to take home the trophy against an Ireland side that came with high hopes of a triple-crown. The main negatives were that the score-line didn’t do the game justice and England failed to come away with what could be an all-important bonus-point.

Here are the players ratings.

15. Elliot Daly – 8
His best game for a while and one of his best in the 15 shirt for England. Looked assured under the high-ball and chased kicks well all game, which brought him a try. The occasional forced pass were the only blemishes on an excellent game.

14. Jonny May – 6
Mostly dealt with the high-ball well, albeit with the odd error. Perhaps not as involved as he would have liked in attack and was guilty of crabbing infield sometimes.

13. Manu Tuilagi – 8
Game-busting. Carried brilliantly and with a ferocity that Ireland couldn’t live with. Smashed the attacks back behind the gain-line time and time again. As an England fan, it’s great to see him play like that with a smile on his face and his team using him effectively.

12. Owen Farrell – 7
In tandem with George Ford, defended stoutly against Ireland’s most threatening player on the day in Bundee Aki. Managed the game well, but perhaps didn’t offer himself with ball in hand or with his distribution that could have taken England to the next level and secured that bonus.

11. Jonathan Joseph – 7
The controversial selection turned out to be rather good on the wing. Perhaps didn’t pop up in attack as much as he could have, but when he did, he was effective (including one marvellous dancing weave of a run). Managed well aerially when called upon as well.

10. George Ford – 8
The kicking game won it for England with the pressure it put on Ireland in the first half and he and his half-back partner were at the heart of it. Got himself a try with a good chase as well. Loses marks for over-kicking at certain points when there were better options and for the one that went backwards…

9. Ben Youngs – 8
He needs more performances like this to guarantee his own selection and to ensure the progress of England going forward. Almost always chose the right option, pretty good pace to the game and kicked well.

1. Joe Marler – 7
Very solid in the pack, as you would expect. Defended well and carried well, but it would be good to see him take a greater role in the loose because we do have options that can do what he does with more prominence and dynamism when the ball gets moving.

2. Jamie George – 7
At the heart of a tireless performance from the forwards. Whilst he isn’t standing out in any particular facet (Luke Cowan-Dickie has arguably caught the eye more in his cameos), the forwards do seem to lose a bit of cohesion and direction when he is removed from the field.

3. Kyle Sinckler – 8
Seemed to be back to the Kyle Sinckler pre-World Cup Final. Carried venomously, showed some slick hands and was aggressive in the tackle and the scrum. Let’s hope he can keep this form up now as England are a much more formidable force with him playing like that.

4. Maro Itoje – 8
A nuisance to the Irish all day long. That is becoming increasingly his role in this squad and it works wonders. He put pressure on rucks, mauls and line-outs with those octopus-like arms finding their way everywhere the ball was.

5. George Kruis – 7
Marshalled the line-out well and supported the runners going in well. Could do with a bit more ballast in his carrying and did give away a couple of senseless penalties when England had momentum.

6. Courtney Lawes – 8
A few options for man of the match, but he did stand out. He really took the mantle for ball-carrying in the forwards and managed to put the tackler on the back foot every time. In addition, he was his usual torpedo in defence and was used well at the set-piece.

7. Sam Underhill – 7
Always on the front foot when tackling and set the tone for line-speed. Perhaps not as noticeable on the floor as he has been, but a solid performance all round.

8. Tom Curry – 7
Seemed in better control at the back of the scrum, tackled well and carried well when given space. Still struggled to show he can make the hard-yards required of an 8 though. If Courtney Lawes and Manu Tuilagi weren’t in such inspired form, would he have been able to make the difference?

Bench – 6
Individually, there were a lot of good moments from the replacements. However, collectively England seemed to lose the relentless pressure as the game went on.

What did you think? Where will England finish? What changes should they make in their last two games?

As a reminder, here are the 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

By Joe Large

38 thoughts on “Six Nations 2020: England Player Ratings Versus Ireland

  1. I’d give Farrell a 6 because his petulance lead to Ireland scoring a try a few phases later, I agree that Youngs had his best performance for a very long time but I will be picky that with the clock at around 39:38 in the first half Youngs elected to box kick rather than take another phase and run the clock down, nothing major I accept but needs to be more mindful with game management in these situations.

    1. Petulance Mr B? Almost all players, from all teams, try to drag oppo into the ruck. Farrell did take this a bit too far but there were certainly grounds for a penalty reversal with Stander clearly striking Farrell multiple times.

      1. Jake agreed and I think Farrell would’ve got it if he’d of let go but Peyper clearly saw it as a mitigating circumstance, not disagreeing with you but if this happens in a game where fine margins matter it could cost us and it did to a rather small extent.

          1. Not defending Farrell at all, but there was a ridiculous amount of off the ball stuff around rucks the whole game. Peyper seemed to let everything go which meant players kept doing more and more of it. An early talking to or penalty would have seen this stuff stop.

            1. The fact Farrell was reprimanded the harshest tells you all you need to know. Peyper had no control over the game, and breakdown in particular and solely relied on Junker to dish out penalties. Last time I checked, the TMO was their to assist the referee. As the game slipped away from Ireland they resorted to cheap shots, glad England rose above it.

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      2. Farrell’s the captain for chrissakes. He deserved a yellow for cheating, i.e., ‘tackling’ a player without the ball, holding on forever, needlessly being the instigator & for being so dumb. What did he hope to gain? If an oppo player had perpetrated this, what would you have stated then? Still, looking on the bright side, at least Farrell clearly used both arms for a change.

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        1. Agreed – Farrell tried it on and knew exactly what he was doing . Takes only the most one eyed supporter to see that he was looking for a reaction while stopping the flow of the game

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            1. So, why did Farrell needlessly hang on, that bring the case? What, with his shoulder tacking rep, he paints a ref’s target on his chest. One day it could all come back to bite him & England, in the arse. Beats me why he keeps getting labelled WC.. usually, goal kicking aside.

              1. Think I already commented but tying defenders into a ruck is something that all teams do. Nothing to do with slowing the game down, that argument doesn’t make sense.
                I’m not a fan of it – tying players in – personally, no matter who does it, and refs seem to be penalising it more now which is a positive more. Each game we see players trying to pull a leg free, or swat an arm away, but I’m still certain that Standers method was over and above what is considered acceptable. Lots of people bemoaning Farrell because they don’t like him as a player, but it doesn’t change that fact that Stander should’ve been penalised.

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                1. What do the rules state about ‘tying players in’? That ‘all players do it’ according to you, is irrelevant. Why should the provocateur not be pinged? Without provocation, there’d be no retaliation. The instigator should carry the can. If the situation had been reversed, what would your response have been then? Jeez!

                  1. I don’t exactly but it is usually penalised if players clear out beyond the ruck, but my point was more that Farrell shouldnt be criticised for something that all players, that all players do it was relevant to this point.
                    My POV would be the same if the roles were reversed, why wouldnt they be? Grabbing around/beyond the ruck is annoying and needs to be stamped out, but striking another player is the graver offence. It’s fine if you dont like Farrell Don but think some objectivity is needed on this one.

                    1. Just looked at the rules. No sanction for “binding” on to a player if you are in the ruck, even if they do not wish to be bound. So refs can’t blow for that. Obviously if you are no longer part of the ruck, which I guess applied to Farrell, then you have no right to bind onto an opposition player, and that would probably be a tackle off the ball?? Not quite sure about the last part, but the principle is correct.

    2. Not defending Farrell at all, but there was a ridiculous amount of off the ball stuff around rucks the whole game. Peyper seemed to let everything go which meant players kept doing more and more of it. An early talking to or penalty would have seen this stuff stop.

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    3. Just don’t get the anti Farrell thing. He plays fly half and monsters an Aus second row and SA centre who really thought he was going to run over Faz and ended up on his arse. What’s not to like?? Celebrate this and please stop the hate. Were arms wrapped or not, don’t care, he killed them. For the record I thought it was legal and it was the size of the hit that caused the problem not the hit itself. As a former flanker I’d be buying a fly half or inside centre that did that a beer every week. Have the haters ever played any decent level or Rugby?? I see the Faz is petulant thing as a reflection on the commenter and not a good reflection.
      Finally, Don, please resist the temptation to comment. The adults are talking now.

  2. Some of these scores are a mark or two high to my mind.
    I thought Underhill was our best player. The bench was a bit mixed, but I thought LCD was terrific when he came on.
    On the Farrell/Stander incident, i’m with Stander on this. If you hold someone in to a ruck, don’t be surprised or upset if they do what they have to do to extricate themselves. Farrell rightly got penalised. And his general play wasn’t up to a great deal either.

  3. Not sure I agree on the Marler observation – it is also a bit contradictory, saying that he carried well but then should offer more in the loose. I feel that as a prop Marler has his priorities in the right order – scrummage, set piece and fringe defense are all (imo) better than MV. He is no MV, Sinckler or Genge in the loose, but he is more than adequate and I think one lesson that must be learnt from the RWC final is scrum parity is an absolute necessity.

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    1. Agreed seen Marler coping a lot of flack for not carrying like Mako and Genge completely ignoring the other positives he contributes that are better than his rivals offer such as scrummaging and aggressive tackling

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    1. I actually though Youngs was pretty good however there was one moment at 22:40 on the clock following Josephs jinking run down the middle when he picks up from a breakdown and starts crabbing looking for a pass but never notices that there is a 5 meter gap in front of him because Furlong is too slow getting to guard position

  4. SJ, I agree, I think Marler is the best in the scummage, and winning the first scrum against Furlong is no mean feat.

  5. Daly a point too high as he buried a decent scoring chance. May at least a point and a half too low. A couple of his takes of the high ball were near miraculous and he was always threatening with ball in hand. Ford was excellent, and Youngs adequate. Thought he was made to look good because the pack was in the driving seat and his opposite number had a stinker. Still don’t think Curry is an 8, even though the back row worked pretty well as a unit. Peyper gets a gets a generous mark of two for not knowing the laws, interpreting the ones he thinks he knows randomly and losing control of the game and the respect of the players after less than three minutes. Best part of the weekend was listening to Jonathan “One-Eyed” Davies and Eddie “Bullshit” Buttler whining like sick cats as it became obvious that France had the measure of Wales and that Whinge-Jones was not going not be allowed to referee as well as play.

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  6. I guess these scores are impressions? If that’s so, then I didn’t see Daly as an 8, did alright, but v good? Also Tui. Crashed it all day with little variety, so how come also an 8? Or Farrell a 7. Adequate at best, apart from that spectacle of a ‘tackle’ of course, which should have dropped him a notch. Could have cost his team. OTOH, JJ, looked v much unlike the implied dead wood of yore & seemed to be powered by Durcel! At least an 8? Also, J May, although not having as much high profile ball, still looked a potential threat & likely rated a 7? Reverce his & Farrell’s ratings? Not going through the whole lot, but I sense that the fwds were generally appoint or so over rated in what was after all a workman like, effective performance at home. Job done, but away may have been more impressive, with these scores appropriate for such a location.

    1. Just on Tuilagi. He carried 10 times and made 29 meters. Thats a pretty good return. However, he was the only English player in the starting XV who never made a pass. One dimensional? I think you could make that charge, though it is fair to say that his carries were mightily effective. He wasn’t working overtime in defence either, making just 7 tackles.

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  7. I would largely agree with all the scores above, but one person I think deserves a mention is Ewels. I don’t know if he’s played much at 8 before, but he actually looked pretty good there. He certainly added some serious bulk and weight to the scrum, and it gave England a couple of very dominant scrums towards the end of the game.

  8. How about a mark for Jones? At this juncture i’d say 6 out of 10. He’s the man we all hate to love and justifiably so most of the time.
    After the 6N and AI’s have gone ,England Rugby has some serious soul searching to do and questions to answer IMO.
    Amongst them: Is Jones taking the players and the team forwards? Has he / is he selecting on form or favouritism? Most importantly, will he be hear in a years time?
    Be interesting to hear what others think.

    1. Wait and see, i think. He deserves credit for steering the team to a win, but that just evens out the poor performance in France.
      We’ll see what the next 2 games throw up and who he selects for the Japan tour.

    2. No. Jones has England treading water. Does he have x3 WC players for every posi? Are they the best team in the world? These are Jones’ boasts & aspirations for England. Has he fulfilled these goals? Are they actually progressing in terms of having an all court game? I.e., if R1, via Billy, Tui is held, does England have a WC, settled back line with innovative back 3 insertions & a midfield whom create SPACE for the wide men? Do the 1/2’s vary the game enough, rather than kick it is the new run it policy? Who pulls the strings? F, F or EJ? What influence has Amor had, especially in comparison to Edwards with France, albeit in a different context? Do England have a superior back line to France? Do England have a superior loose trio to France? A rhetorical 1 really, but do England also have their best players in their best positions, or do France? Jones has been here for over 1/2 a cycle & yet when his team faced the big 1 in Japan, did they front up? All the press talk of dismantling Ireland etc (by 12? Familiar?) & being back on track after the last 2 6N games, with even guys such as Launchberry (& I like JL), or Ford, talking England & Youngs, in the latter’s case up, is frankly, disingenuous bullshit. Jones Is oscillating & vacillating with players, positions picks & style of play? What exactly is the latter? What has he fundamentally changed or improved in the English game? It’s changed him IMO. Where’s the flair that Japan beat SA with in 2015? AWOL, that’s where. I just don’t believe that he has the self belief or real confidence to give coaches & players responsibility & freedom to PLAY. If he had, England would have knocked the Saffas over in that final. Most don’t get too many shots at fame in life. Ed’s had 2 & so far, a Tyson Fury he ain’t! However, none of this will matter so long as England win their next 2 in the 6N. Then perform in the AI’s. By then, he’ll have yr to repeat the same, so it’ll depend on those following outcomes. So long as he doesn’t come completely unstuck, then the blazers will likely sit on their hands. After all, they can always do another Lancaster can’t they? I’m picking that Jones will do well enough to not lose his shirt, especially as many of his important future games will be at home. Additionally, by then it’ll be getting a bit near closing time to find a replacement.. & who? Mmm. Tricky decision that one & I don’t see the ol’ farts relishing it too much. However, I could be wrong. We’ll have to see.

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  9. Posted this under The England Training Squad, but my reflection may be better positioned here.

    As I couldn’t hear it in the pub, I watched the pre Irish match commentary again via SCW, BOD & Jonny Wilko. Interesting as SCW agreed with many here about players not being picked out of posi, like Lawes & particularly JJ, at wing. BOD opined that numbers on a player’s back were just numbers. He cited France especially as bucking tradition by swapping positions around regardless of normal shirt numbers, although didn’t state how this had benefitted them over the last 10 yrs or so. Jonny W, in that neutral manner of his, took the view that a player, although picked out of his normal position, like JJ for instance, could bring their own strengths & skills to an unfamiliar post. IOW, attempt to make it their own. I think HE mentioned Austin Healy in this respect. It was kind of ironic that JJ played a bit of a blinder & therefore seemingly undermined SCW’s belief about specialists in their rugby roles. Conversely, JJ’s on field efforts appeared to back the views of BOD & JW. Therefore, which camp’s opinions were right & which were wrong? Well, both.. & or, neither? Generalising can can make fools of us all I think & yet general views don’t come from nowhere either. There can always be the exception to the rule. Healy could probably have played across the whole back line & he may have done. However, this made him a Jack of all trades & he tended to ‘fringe’ with England, which must have frustrated him. Also, would JW have been any good on the wing? Possibly ok, but he was too slow, may have lacked side stepping guile, changes of pace or swerve-ability of a wide man. Others OTOH, like Ben Smith, were equally adept at full back or wing, although not necessarily elsewhere on the field. Likewise, Elliott Daly can play in either of the these two positions, although unfathomably (spell check doesn’t like this one!), his country hasn’t played him in his favoured (& best?) place of centre! If a team prevails, as England did v Ireland last week end, with players like Lawes & JJ out of their usual spots, then it’s more difficult to argue against these selections. Nevertheless, it begs the question as to whether England could have done the job, even better, with players selected in their ‘right’ positions. Would Theyvlikely have performed better with, for instance, Curry & Underhill at 7 & 6 respectively & say Dombrandt at 8? IOW, with a specialist back row? Scott Barrett didn’t work for NZ in the WC semi. Although the idea of attacking England’s line out was sound enough, as it transpired, a specialist 6 was required in the loose to stem the English trio. If a real 6 had have been thrown on early, could this have improved the NZ situation? For me, ideally specialist players should play in their best positions, to start, or even finish, anyway. If things don’t go to plan in a game, there’s always the option to change it up, arguably, preferably sooner, rather than later. The worst of all worlds though, is to oscillate or vacillate with players. Pick them & stick with them, at least until they prove or disprove themselves. Otherwise this policy potentially invites failure.

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