I’ve spent the last hour reading the Sunday Papers on the internet about England’s win against Italy in yesterday’s 6 Nations tournament. Sometimes I wonder if the reporters have been watching the same game, or if they know anything at all about rugby.
On the face of it a 59 – 13 scoreline does suggest that England are on the way back after a barren 8 years after they won the Rugby World Cup in 2003.
But let’s look at who they were playing. Italy that’s who. No disrespect to the Italians, but their team contains a majority of players who play for the likes of Treviso and Ayroni who get their arses handed to them on a regular basis in the Magners League and even more so in the Heinekan European Cup. World class they’re not.
The Italians first up defence yesterday was appaling, it allowed the English attack to slice through them at will and it was only the heroics of their scramble defence that kept the scoreline below 3 figures! And as for their attack…I’ve read in one of the papers that they looked good with the ball in hand. Eh? You expect international players to be able to catch and pass, this they did. But at no time did they have the wit or guile to penetrate the English defensive wall. In fact during most phases their attack would finish behind the point at which it started.
Their major offensive weopons, that of scrum and line out were both mis-firing and towards the end of the first half they had started arguing amongst themselves. It seemed to me they were still suffering from last week’s last minute defeat against Ireland. A game they should have won and lost only through unbelievable naivety at the restart.
Anyway, where does this leave England. I suppose you could argue they can only play whose in front of them and scoring 59 points in an international isn’t to be sniffed at. Both points very true. But let’s keep our feet on the ground as much as Martin Johnson will be keeping his players feet firmly on terra firma.
Our kicking game needs work from our 22. Kick like that against the French and you’re in trouble. Their attack is nowhere as near sterile as the Italians, just ask the Scottish! Also we turned ball over too often by not adapting to the referee quickly enough and not comitting enough players to the breakdown. We certainly need to get bodies in the rucks against the French or mayhem will ensue!
I guess the English coaching staff will have identified that. Pity the rugby press didn’t! They’re now talking about Grand Slams and the Rugby World Cup. Amazing!
I’ll leave all the Chris Ashton hooha to the tabloids and remind the journalists that Rugby is the ultimate team game. As Chris Ashton tells them himself every time he’s interviewed!
And as for Scotland v Wales…Who’da thunk it!!!!!