6 Nations – Week 2

Today was something of a repeat of last Saturday – one joke game and one excellent one.

Scotland were a little better today than they were against Wales, thanks in no small part to the selection of the Evans brothers, but their pack is still getting beaten up a lot. Going in a game with only one specialist second row in your squad can’t be good. France, on the other hand, were largely incapable of capitalizing on their up front dominance, and the one try that they scored could have been ruled out for any number of reasons. Their 22-13 win was deserved, but only just.

England made a significant improvement on last week, and when they can get the ball to the likes of Flutie and Sackey they look a really good team. They were also superb in defense, snuffing out Welsh attacks in the red zone on a number of occasions. Joe Worsley really earned his man of the match award. And of course they scored two tries to the Welsh one.

And yet they lost, 23-15. They lost in part because the Welsh side is confident and disciplined; they lost in part because they were indisciplined; and they lost in part because they telegraphed their game plan. Some England fans will doubtless be complaining that Jonathan Kaplan favored the Welsh. I have no sympathy, and I think this should be a lesson for Martin Johnson. If you go into a game saying that you intend to bully the other team off the park, and prevent them from attacking by slowing the ball down, then the referee will be primed to look for infringements at the ruck, and will have his hand on the yellow card before the game has even started.

Next weekend there are no games, which will give you folks a bit of a break from my rugby fanaticism, and Shane Williams a chance to get his ankle right before the big game in Paris. I don’t expect the French to be as bad again. Here’s looking forward to a good game.

4 thoughts on “6 Nations – Week 2

  1. “they lost in part because they were indisciplined; and they lost in part because they telegraphed their game plan.”
    i agree but am thankful that we were significantly better than the previous week in most areas of the game. I had predicted at 20 point mauling.

    i think the looking for indiscipline at the ruck was an issue but i think it reflected more on our ‘tactic’ to kick ball away rather than keep it in hand rather than Jonno’s / Gatland’s pre-match statements

    When Flood came on there was a difference and Wales had to scramble a bit more – hence the penalty for Ryan Jones. I think indicative of Welsh composure / being streetwise that it was not a yellow, but this was because it was the first one for ages anywhere near the Welsh red-zone because England hadn’t got themselves to play in that area as they had kicked the ball away.

    IMHO, due to the interpretation of the rules at the moment, one element of the exertion of pressure on your opponent it means that you have to be going forward with the ball in hand in the right areas of the pitch to give the ref the opportunity to see that the defenders are slowing the ball down – had England done this on more occasions and closer to the Welsh 22, the ref would have been forced to start taking Borthwick’s complaints about Welsh side-entry to the ruck etc seriously

    I watched the Scotland / France game and thought that a large degree of the fluidity of the game was killed by the referee, Clancy was awful at our game versus the Scarlets last month and did very little to disabuse me of the impression yesterday – i had the distinct impression that Lievremont had to send on Keyser for Szarzewksi (sp?) because he needed an english speaker so that the props could understand what the hell the pedantic Clancy wanted from them in the scrum and therefore to be able to use their clear advatnage in that area.

  2. Going forward is certainly the way to play. It is what the rules designers want to encourage. The England back line actually looked quite good at times yesterday. I’m hoping that you can continue the improvement and give the Irish a tough time in two weeks.

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