England discover themselves at a crossroads as they ponder the ultimate two matches of the Six Nations. Can they declare a spot within the first division of that event with Eire and France or are they nonetheless within the second division alongside Scotland, Wales and Italy?
I’m barely extra sanguine than some after the slender win over Wales despite the fact that for a lot of the sport it was like watching a unique sport to the glories of France’s attacking masterclass in opposition to Scotland.
England didn’t produce the coherent attacking sport I hoped for however the outdated rivalries and depth of Six Nations video games and the very particular ambiance at Anglo-Welsh encounters doesn’t all the time enable for that.
Sir Clive Woodward stated England’s victory in opposition to Wales on Saturday at Twickenham was very important
Greatest-laid plans can exit of the window and the straightforward goal of profitable by no matter rating ultimately consumes you.
So firstly, the victory was very important. We might all be having a really totally different dialog this morning had England let it slip on the finish, not that I ever felt they might.
Now the mud has settled, England are in respectable form. They may unquestionably begin as underdogs in opposition to Eire — and when has that ever been the case at Twickenham in latest instances? However that may be a dynamic they’ll get pleasure from.
He stated it was like watching a unique sport to the glories of France’s assaults in opposition to Scotland
When every little thing appears like a ‘bonus’ and the gang is unambiguously behind you, it could possibly free a workforce up and I’m satisfied it received’t take a lot for this facet to all of the sudden click on and look altogether a unique rugby beast.
It has definitely been a very long time coming and I hope will probably be price ready for.
The large downside stays changing possession and a few vigorous moments at half-back from Harry Randall and Marcus Smith right into a extra threatening show from the backs typically and I’m afraid we’re again to the perennial downside at No 12 once more, the place that continues to hang-out England with the countless uncertainty over Manu Tuilagi’s health.
Sir Clive stated England didn’t produce the coherent attacking sport he hoped to see
If Manu could make the beginning line-up in opposition to Eire it will be a large bonus for England but when he’s nonetheless injured, it stays an issue place.
The Ollie Lawrence experiment was deemed a failure with out giving him a good alternative and Eddie Jones appears reluctant to belief Gloucester’s Mark Atkinson. Owen Farrell would possibly return there at some stage but it surely’s not his finest place so in the intervening time, Henry Slade is carrying the jersey.
Slade is a fantastic all-round expertise so he’s by no means going to allow you to down. In truth, individually he was certainly one of England’s higher gamers on Saturday however was he fulfilling the position at 12 that England wanted him to?
However that sport plans usually exit the window and it turns into about profitable by no matter rating
Previously, I’ve been tempted by the dual playmakers concept at 10 and 12 — and sometimes it really works — however the feeling persists that if you will get the most effective out of Smith’s creativity you want a giant bodily presence at 12 for him to play off. A foil moderately than extra of the identical.
I ran into Will Greenwood at Twickenham and he insists Slade is usually a long-term 12 if Tuilagi isn’t going to be round, however for that to occur he must play there recurrently for membership in addition to nation.
It stays the conundrum that England should clear up and within the brief time period if Manu stays sidelined, I think they’ll go together with Slade.
England face Eire subsequent and Sir Clive stated they’ll undoubtedly be ‘underdogs’ within the conflict
Does Elliot Daly proceed at 13? It’s probably not taking place there for him however what are the alternate options? Joe Marchant maybe or Luke Northmore from Harlequins, who could be Greenwood’s selection.
Once more, England appear slightly in need of tried and examined performers on this division. Eire and France, conversely, appear blessed on this place.
The pack allowed the tempo to slide approach too usually and the countless faffing round at scrum-time within the first half threatened to not solely derail the match as a spectacle however England’s efficiency. All of it appears so pointless and counterproductive. I don’t anticipate many adjustments within the pack though you fancy that England would revenue from the strong presence of Joe Launchbury, whose nous would even be invaluable.
He stated the upcoming video games are pivotal not solely to the Six Nations however to the 2023 World Cup
I’d put Courtney Lawes again into the second row with Maro Itoje and add much more tempo to our again row by way of Sam Simmonds or Alfie Barbeary from Wasps.
So, a giant couple of video games forward for England — pivotal to this event and the highway to the 2023 World Cup. Eire will handle itself, a giant house match in opposition to outdated rivals who England know effectively, however a visit to Paris is the hardest gig in rugby proper now.
France are the most effective workforce on this planet and getting higher by the week. They have been majestic at instances in opposition to Scotland. You don’t really feel there’s a pink card in them any extra, they’re solely desirous about taking part in nice rugby — that’s how they inflict ache on the opposition lately! And they’re now 80-minute match, a facet filled with distinctive, well-conditioned athletes.
Shaun Edwards has clearly had a large affect however I additionally give big credit score right here to Fabien Galthie who typically will get missed.
Head coach Galthie is a tough taskmaster — any disruptive affect within the French squad will get brief shrift — however he additionally had the braveness of his convictions when tasked with rebuilding a French facet to reckon with after the final World Cup once they imploded and misplaced a quarter-final to Wales that they need to have received.
He needed Edwards as defence coach and he was going to get his man although he was already being wooed by Wigan, his hometown membership who needed him to return to rugby league.
However Galthie wouldn’t be postpone. He knew this might turn into the important thing signing for the way forward for French rugby, and ultimately he landed his man. What an acquisition he has proved to be.
If solely England would even often nail their colors to the mast like that. Apart from an strategy in 2006 from Andy Robinson when Edwards’ private circumstances made it unattainable, he has by no means been courted by his house nation and the prospect of him by no means working for England leaves you shaking your head.
It’s selections like this the place World Cups are received and misplaced.