Weekend Entertainment

This weekend sees the most important sporting event of the year. No, not that little game in Miami, though I will be watching that as well (Geaux Saints!). I refer, of course, to the annual Wales – England rugby match.

This year the game is in London, which should help England overcome their natural disadvantage of being, well, English. Also the England side is very much in a rebuilding phase, with many young players looking to establish their reputations. The Welsh side, on the other hand, is stuffed full of veterans of two Grand Slam campaigns. They ought to win. Expectation always brings pressure.

My main worry is at scrum half. Gareth Cooper is the Welsh third choice – Philips and Peel both being injured. He’s a good player but, as I’m sure Will will explain in the comments, Danny Care is a wily fox and proving worthy of being England’s first choice at the position.

My other worry is the referee. As the BBC and Martyn Williams explain, some new regulations have just been handed down regarding how rucks will be policed. Going into the game, the players will be unsure what is legal and what isn’t. They will need to watch the referee carefully and see how he whistles the game. But Wales cannot afford to give away penalties, because if they do then Jonny Wilkinson will kick them, and then we’ll probably lose.

On the bright side, the selection of Tait instead of Hipkiss suggests that England are actually going to try to play rugby rather than mud wrestling, and when they do things that don’t come naturally to them they often get in a terrible mess. We shall see.

11 thoughts on “Weekend Entertainment

  1. Thanks for the heads-up re: the ruck interpretations

    Sounds like an anti-McCaw law to me 😉

    I think this match is Danny’s chance – particularly as he is playing with Easter at number 8 so the familiarity will help, Le Hasque was guilty of some erratic behaviour from the base of the scrum in previous games. I would have thought that Hodgson ought to have started having not done much wrong…?

    Youngs looked very good for the Saxons last week.

    Positives for me – not too many people out through injury at least compared to the autumn.

    It is a shame Flutey has pulled out but Flood is apparently in pretty good form.

    People are not playing out of position and Armitage is back with Monye and Tait this means we actually have some real pace in the backline and Cueto isn’t exactly slow.

    Will they get any ball though?

    Our Lineout and defence was pretty good in the autumn so I hope it carries on in the same vein.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about penalties against the Welsh – Rolland is hardly going to be much of a homer – being half french and half irish 😉

    Wales have some unfortunate injuries – especially Gethin Jenkins. I wasn’t liking the look of our front row but without both Melon and Rees i think it is a bit more even than it could have been.

    Many questions will be answered on saturday including:

    Can the england forwards provide any quick ball?, will Jonny stand flatter (maybe alternating first receiver with Flood)?, will the speedsters get the ball in space?, will our defence be able to keep Dr Roberts and wee Shane in check? will we display any intelligence in our kicking game? will we remember which way the tryline is?

    I will refrain from choosing a winner, let alone a score : the last time I did that for an England game some bloke named Gibbs scored at Wembley… 🙂

    I just hope to god that England are less turgid in their play than in the autumn. The spin from the camp this week is that they are planning to be more adventurous let’s hope so.

    To be honest I’d be happy with a settled squad and some signs of improvement.

    And also i can even bring this round to the SuperBowl – Johnno himself was a youth team tight end for Leicester Panthers Gridiron team at the same time that Sean Payton was their starting quarterback!

    BTW did i mention I managed to snag a ticket and am going… 🙂 I’m taking camera too though I am not sure I’ll get anything usable…

    1. I’m very relieved that we won’t be facing Flutie who is the one really creative player that England have. On the other hand, losing Jenkins is a major blow. He’s one of the best props in the world right now.

      I suspect that one or two people might be getting on a plane for Miami on Sunday morning, middle of the Six Nations or no.

      Great news about the ticket. Hope you have a wonderful time despite being on the losing side. 🙂

  2. They were talking about this on the radio when I was going out this morning: England are ‘the favourites to beat Wales’, according to the sports reporter.

    Unless it’s suddenly going to be a three-sided match, I can’t think how England wouldn’t be…

  3. I’m not convinced England are actually in anything like as much of a rebuilding phase as they need to be – God forbid this should be the core of the England team in 18 months’ time, but it looks as if that’s the plan.

    Having talented backs is all very well but England’s game plan for some years has been not to use the backs if at all possible. The only ball Armitage i slikely to see is that which Wales kick at him, and Wales have the pace to get to him quickly (while England’s lumpen pack are likely to be unhelpful in covering). That said, Wales played almost as poorly as England back in the Autumn, and England have a long history of pulling out the odd good result or two in order to save them from being COMPLETELY abject. While it’s hard to look beyond an Ireland 6N with France as the best candidate to upset them, England could yet do nicely. However it’s equally possible that they could lose to eveyrone except Italy!

    If it’s a low-scoring game, as I suspect it will be, England will probably shade it. If it’s a high-scoring game, woe betide them – when was the last team England won a high-scoring game against class opposition?

    And I never knew till this week you were into rugby…

  4. Will try Rugby Zone today. I won’t be getting BBC America until late next week (changing from Comcast to Verizon for Cable.) I hope it is a good game.

  5. I seem to remember reading a few years ago about a Welsh rugby fan who was so convinced that Wales was going to lose to England again (they hadn’t won at home for something like 12 years) that if Wales did win, he would cut off his testicles. (The story also mentioned that he was already just a little drunk at the time he made this pronouncement.)

    Well, Wales did win, and the drunk fan kept his word.

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