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France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

Not quite a Bath fan. Just someone who despises the play-acting in football and can remember when diving in that sport was seen as the ridiculous charade it is. I reserve the same vitriol for Heinrich Brussow and Bryan Habana. Incidentally, I admire all of these players, including Huget, for their rugby.

1 Week, 5 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

I'm going to put it down to training fatigue. Sounds like they've been getting a real beasting, including some hard altitude work. I'm not a fitness professional, but it does seem to me that pushing the fat boys too hard can sometimes be counter-productive.

In actual fact, it's not just the stinkies that can suffer from over-training; I think I'm right in saying Ireland used not to make Brian O'Driscoll train for longer than 40 minutes in one session, because they identified that beyond that they got a diminishing return on the training effect.

If my hunch is right, I just hope that the forwards especially get a bit of rest & recuperation while there's still time for it.

1 Week, 9 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

Feels like time has run out for Lancaster and suddenly he has a lot of options without a clear idea of which is the best one to take. I'm talking about centres primarily.

Burgess & Slade last week I though both played excellently, both individually and as a combination; bizarrely they looked like a settled unit!

Burrell was one of England's best players in the 2nd France game and has really done very little wrong in all the games I've seen him play for England, so I feel it would be harsh on him if he somehow missed out.

I hear though that Lancaster is most keen on having Brad Barritt at 12. This is a guy who the armchair fans (me included) tend to dismiss as one-dimensional, but who is incredibly reliable, and not just in defence.

Then you have the option of Farrell at 12, or indeed Cipriani, who always seems capable of injecting that little bit of magic and seems to be more robust these days too.

So that's about five blokes, (actually six including Twelvetrees) vying for the inside centre spot and I'm concerned that Lancaster and his coaching team don't really seem to have a handle on who gets the nod...

As far as I can tell, Joseph is the only outside centre in the mix for final selection. I rate him very highly, but it seems odd to depend on him so completely, when Slade had such a good game last week.

It sounds like Cipriani and Slade are not likely to get a look-in, so I'm confused as to why they were even used in the France games.

1 Week, 9 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

Agree with your analysis. Still don't think a high tackle on Huget should really be classed as foul play at all, but yes Vunipola dodged a bullet there; had it been on any other player I think a yellow card would've been appropriate.

On side note 3, I also agree. I also don't see how this arrangement is permissible when it clearly contravenes article 149b of the Treaty if Rome, covering the right to free movement of people in the European Union, particularly for employment reasons. There must be something about S Armitage that bothers Lancaster, maybe an attitude or something, for him to have refused to trigger that "exceptional circumstance" clause. Abendanon would be another player I'd like England to have at their disposal, but would probably select Browny ahead of him, and we have Watson and Goode available for full back too. But Armitage offers skills at open side that England need; I think I'd be comfortable with the idea of playing against Pocock, Hooper, Warburton et Al with Armitage in the side.

Anyway, too late for all that now.....

1 Week, 12 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

I would not support a site like that. Sounds too much like football, where too much time is spent analysing and criticising the refs and managers constantly trying to shift the blame from their own teams' performances.

Having said that, I think sareferees.com used to have a section that covered elite refs' performances, not the stats version you're talking about but they had quite interesting insight into specific decisions. Can't see it on there at the moment, but funnily enough one thing did jump out at me- referee of the month, most recently awarded to Jaco Peyper.

1 Week, 12 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

Sorry DrG, can't agree with your opening sentence. There's one warm-up match and just a few weeks training between now and the World Cup. Starting team should all be in ink now; I'd bet New Zealand have known theirs for a while.
I hope that behind the scenes Lancaster is a lot more certain and that he's just being diplomatic or doing a Mourinho in public.

1 Week, 13 Hours ago

France convincing winners over England despite late comeback in Paris

My main thought on watching this is Billy Vunipola seems to have played himself out of the team; harsh to pick in one individual but he single-handedly gave away nine points, which is not acceptable.

The first (line out encroachment) was just moronic, even more so than Dan Cole's.

Second I suppose was equally stupid especially as Burrell had already made the tackle, however I'm not convinced trying to take Yoann Huget's head off should actually be deemed foul play.

Third I think was a mistake by the red. 36 made the tackle, Vunipola was first man at the ruck and jackalled very effectively, on his feet the whole time.

At the end, a Number 8 being dumped on his arse by a wing is never a good look. Having said that Huget's a strong mother isn't he. And what a line he hit for his try. But I digress, Billy V (who I usually like) had a shocker in this game.







1 Week, 23 Hours ago

James Schrader's sensational try saving tackle in the opening round of the ITM Cup

Fair enough. :)

1 Week, 3 Days ago

England get the better of France with some great tries at Twickenham

Refreshing to see some praise for Haskell. In my opinion, he's under-rated, mostly I think because many fans just don't like him, can't get over "The Brand" stuff and disapprove of his media stuff and self-promotion. I say he's a hard-working athlete with a great work ethic. He's also very versatile, one of the few England players I think that can play well in all three back row positions, which makes him a very handy player to have for the world cup. Maybe he'll only appear as an impact replacement; in actual fact he seems to relish that role.

1 Week, 3 Days ago

England get the better of France with some great tries at Twickenham

Cheers Dan, very interesting. On this evidence I say sod it, let's go with Burgess and Slade!

1 Week, 3 Days ago