England’s loss to Scotland at Twickenham has given us plenty of talking points, not least the question of who should be England’s starting 10/12 partnership.
There was hope that a new coaching set-up would transform the often clunky on field relationship between Smith and Farrell – but yesterday’s game gave little indication of that.
Both men showed their world class ability, Farrell with some textbook defensive reads (particularly on Finn Russell) and Smith produced a moment of magic with his crossfield kick try assist.
Big tackle from Farrell on Russell forcing the turnover. Big effort from Russell to get back around moments later and let Farrell know about his non-attempt on the Van der Merwe try. #ENGSCO pic.twitter.com/Vk9TlNcx4u
— Ben Smith (@bensmithrugby) February 5, 2023
However, once again the duo did not seem to get the very best from each other and England’s attack looked spluttery at best.
It is important to state that both players are among the world’s best fly halves, and this can often get lost in social media criticism, but can Borthwick an his team get them singing from the same hymn sheet or is it a partnership doomed to fail?
Both men are at their best from first receiver, but obviously it is impossible for that to happen. Equally Smith’s attacking game is most effective when alongside a strong ball carrying inside center.
On the flip side, Farrell has proven himself time and time again in the No.10 and No.12 shirt for England, so is this a problem sparked by Smith’s inclusion rather than anything else.
Here is what supporters and pundits have said on the partnership.
What a game of rugby. Well done Scotland. Smith-Farrell axis needs to be rethought!!
— Nick Easter (@nick_easter) February 4, 2023
SMITH & FARRELL REALLY WORK AS A COMBO. THEY ALWAYS HAVE. IT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BEST, MOST FLUENT PERIOD OF ATTACK WE'VE SEEN BY ANYONE THIS RWC CYCLE (V NZ '22). IT WORKED YESTERDAY. SMITH WAS BRILLIANT. I FEEL LIKE I'M GOING INSANE WHY IS EVERYBODY SAYING IT DOESN'T WORK.
— Squidge Rugby (@SquidgeRugby) February 5, 2023
A lot [often tribal, mostly stupid] takes on the Farrell/Smith conundrum
Very few People talking about goal kicking
In Prem Rugby this season, Smith is at 95%, Farrell is at 75%
Form is temporary etc… But 75% off the tee will not win you test matches.
— Dave Rogers (@DRoj) February 4, 2023
I’ve had enough
Farrell at 10
Two playmakers doesn’t work
— Tigers Fans (@TigersLeicester) February 4, 2023