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Cian Healy banned for three weeks for leg stamp on Dan Cole

I'd like to see these punishments meted out in games, rather than weeks. As the citing panel have demonstrate by their mess up in trying to make sure Healy misses 2 6 nations games, some games matter more than others. So if someone is cited in an international, the penalty should apply to the next x international matches. Otherwise, in a case like Andrew Hore, the penalty simply meant he missed 1 game, while if that same offence took place in the pool games of the RWC, he'd have had to miss the tournament. It's bizarre.

I think an x match international ban would mean one helluva lot to the players, and the games are so heavily televised they know they are unlikely to get away with it, and could contribute to getting rid of these nasty incidents at the top end.

So then, Hartley's gouging last year would have ruled him out of internationals until December (I think). Might be worth considering.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

Owen Farrell kicks England to victory over Ireland in Dublin

Italy come to Twickenham too.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

Owen Farrell kicks England to victory over Ireland in Dublin

I'm with you to an extent over the back 3, but for lack of outstanding alternatives, they've all made significant contributions. And I'd argue Goode and Brown were pretty good against Ireland.

Mike Brown seems to havecome of age for me - his taking of the high ball right on the touchline, then spin infield and making metres, all at a crucial time under huge pressure from the Irish chase, typifies the player he has become (I'd always thought he was a not-quite player) and he consistently runs the ball back well. He is also one of the best wings at trying to steal the ball at the breakdown.

And Ashton, for all his defensive fragility, isn't a terrible tackler - he set up Manu's try in France last year with a blitz on an overlap and an absolute thumping of Swarsevski, plus he does run those tracking lines better than anyone else. He has developed an annoying trait of running past the support close to the line and not taking the pass, but I think that can be changed.

Goode I can't say I'm convinced is the long term solution - but he seems a solid, capable smart player, and at this stage, that's ok. He'll be around the squad for years, like Matt Perry, but I would guess Foden is the better option.

I'd love to have a George North type player, but having Tuilagi back will balance the line much better.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

Owen Farrell kicks England to victory over Ireland in Dublin

Intruiging game. What seemed to me to be the difference was the organisation and decision taking. It seemed to like England did play more rugby than many are crediting them for, but they tended to do this only when it was in the area of the pitch where it wouldn't hurt them if it went wrong. That said, I think on at least a couple of occasions off turnovers they looked to go, but after the Irish shut the door went back to their playin for territory.

Other than that they were happy to defend with their rush defence, not go offside or concede kickable penalties and impose pressure.

The most impressive thing for me was the way England took charge totally during the sin bin. Impressive maturity for what is still a very inexperienced side.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

England power past Scotland to retain Calcutta Cup at Twickenham

Yeah, I agree with the strong mentality - the autumn showed that. Could've beaten Australia ... Should've beaten SA ... then rallying to beat NZ. But but but... at the moment, for all their promise, we have to remember that England haven't won in Ireland for a decade, and the last 2 times have been ugly. Ireland have experience and control in their team in a way that only comes with years of seasoning.

Another reason I suspect Ireland will shade it is that without Morgan and Corbisiero the pack is definitely weaker. Morgan is developing fast into a really dangerous player, and I rate Corbisiero highly - he and Cole were dominant against NZ and Ireland last year. Marler is promising but he isn't dominant yet, and without Morgan the ballcarrying isn't as effective.

But injuries happen, and the replacements have a shot. I'd like to see Vunipola junior get a run off the bench.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

England power past Scotland to retain Calcutta Cup at Twickenham

The pace that England played at showed at least a developing style, and that was the most pleasing thing for me. Yes, there were sloppy mistakes, but the players seem to be largely on the same page. You can begin to see Catt's influence.

For me the thing which stood out was how the gameplan worked well (with the dummy runners and the cut out passes behind them) by creating little creases in the defence, and on at least 2 occasions that I can think of Brad Barritt was put in behind the Scottish defence. On one occassion he went down too easily and gave away a penalty, but it was significant - if an average carrier like Barritt can be damaging, what might Tuilagi do?

The structure and understanding seems to be coming together. I suspect England may well lose to Ireland, but I'm still pleased with the squad development.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

England power past Scotland to retain Calcutta Cup at Twickenham

In the autumn, Robshaw went up against the 3 southern hemisphere teams, including McCaw, and in playing terms gave very little away, and was part of a unit that bossed McCaw at the breakdown.

I'll give you that Robshaw doesn't 'seem' to be a thoroughbred 7, in that he doesn't seem to be the best in the world at anything, but if you actually look at the game, he plays a huge role in the team, racking up the tackles, turning ball over, slowing ball down, carrying time and time again - the physicality, fitness and ability to be in the game all day long is impressing me more and more.

I was a Robshaw sceptic last season as a player but he's coming into his own. Then again, for his first 2 seasons in international rugby I didn't see the point of Dan Cole, so what do I know!

As far as captaining goes, yes, he made a couple of poor decisions in the autumn, but he appears to be a good leader in that the attitude in the team seems good at the moment, and he also seems to be a quick study. Decision making as a captain is different, and it's a learnt skill, not an inate one, so I am pretty confident that with experience he will get better.

1 Year, 9 Months ago

The Rugby World Cup 2015 Pools drawn and IRB awards given

seriously! because the Millenium stadium is part of the bid to host games and the venues aren't decided yet.
There's no chance it'd happen that way, and I actually doubt that Wales will play Australia in Cardiff either, but I like the cheekiness of it.

1 Year, 11 Months ago

The Rugby World Cup 2015 Pools drawn and IRB awards given

There's a hilarious piece of cheek gone on from the Welsh management, asking for the England-Wales game to be held in Cardiff!

My monocle popped clean out, snagged on my handlebar mustache and fell into my Earl Grey when I read that.

I'm guessing NZ and France will be happiest with their draws, and Australia least.

1 Year, 11 Months ago

 
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