T Nation

6 Nations 2008

well…

we’ve had 2 weekends of on the whole, poor-ish Rugby football. I say on the whole as France seem to have gone back in time 20 years and have decided to run from everywhere - seems the new management team of maso/Lièvremont has freed up the French who basically adopted an English look to them under past coach Laporte.

Wales are looking good but have Ireland away and France at home. Ireland looked good in defeat in the second half against France - but did France just let them in. Italy have been plucky twice in a row - and still lost. As for England. No comment.

I think no-one will win the grand slam, and France to win a championship. Maybe Ireland for a triple crown?

comments?

Oh and that super 14 thing kicked off again on sat - so any SH guys - feel free to chime in on your thoughts about the experimental Law variations. The future?

having sat through the first two england games i am totally disillusioned. only thought i can come up with is that england are using the same tactic they used in the world cup and pretending they are crap in the early games to fool everyone into thinking they are no hopers only to come good at the end. certainly fooling me at the moment.

I don’t know wtf is going on with Ireland. The first half of the France game was one of the worst performances I’ve seen. So many dropped balls, so many gifts. It seems like we only got going once we had nothing to lose.

France looked dead by the end of the game and Ireland looked like they were good for another half. That coulda just been because Ireland didn’t play the first half tho!

I woulda said not a hope in hell of a triple crown, but with England sucking as badly as Ireland it could happen!!

Nah im backing Wales for the triple crown, good to see them running a bit more freely, although they should have put alot more points up against Scottland. None of the teams look partiicularly impressive but mabey if France had Marcconnet and De Vilers back to sure up there front row they would start to look the goods. Also is Jauzion injured?

Super 14 games havent been that great, ELV speed and open it up a bit more but to early to really judge

i belive wales will win the grandslam again, that will be so awesome

I’ve been pretty disappointed with Ireland’s play so far. Although the second half against France showed what their pack is capable of, their back line looked like complete shit. On offense they seemed unable to create any space to run, and the few times there was room on the outside, the ball was just taken into contact where the French would bog it down and jog comfortably back to a solid defense. Defensively they bunched up too much and left way too much space open on the wing, especially with a guy like Clerc out there. I will say that Eoin Reddan has impressed me at 9. If only the backs could sort themselves out and use the ball the forwards were winning.

France looked solid, if undisciplined at times. Clerc looked brilliant, and Elissalde has been playing well. Overall I think Ireland could have, and should have, beaten them had they not take the first half off.

I expected more from Scotland this year. I’ve been impressed with a number of their players individually in the Magners league and the Premiership. Most notably Nikki Walker and Mike Blair. I’ve only seen bits of the Scotland matches, but from what I did see, they looked pretty flat.

Italy look about as expected, occasional glimmers of talent, lots of heart, but they’re still not quite there yet.

I haven’t gotten a chance to really watch England or Wales play yet, but Wales seems to have figured out what they were doing wrong last year. They play France in the last match of the tournament, could be a good one.

England have been terrible. I found it really disheartening in the Wales and Italy games that Wasps, or London Irish, or Leicester could have closed both games out well and truly, but the so-called cream of English Rugby could not. Wales even more so, as effectively, it was just the Osprey’s team versus a national side. Rob Andrew is a genius. He could have given the job to a man who has coached Wasps to two Heineken cups, two league titles and also (whilst coaching league) had managed to haul in three super league titles.

But instead he gave it to a man who has thus far managed to win one title (a premiership title) with Bath, in 16 years of “top-level” coaching. Luckily for England Wales saw sense and hired him straight away. The blame cannot all rest on the inept coaching of Brian Ashton. The backs have been terrible. Gomersall can’t get a 1st team game for a mid-table team like Harlequins, but is just right for England (?!?), Balshaw is a sham who is an absolute liability under the high ball. Flood’s tactical game from centre is terrible (how many times did he refuse to pass when England had a 3 man overlap?) and Cipriani is as flaky as an ice-cream van’s confectionary cupboard.

Consequently, Vainakola has been woefully underused. He touched the ball two times against Wales, and created a try once, then drew three men into the tackle the next time. The back-row needs sorting out. Caprese (sp?) the Italian No. 8 made them look terrible. Ashton seems to have chosen his players before he’s made a team, and then tries to fit the team around them, rather than the other way round. Plus, what he sees in Premiership and international performances, compared to what the rest of the world sees is beyond me.

[quote]m0dd3r wrote:
Defensively they bunched up too much and left way too much space open on the wing, especially with a guy like Clerc out there[/quote]

That was because all of the french scores bar 1 were from turnovers, defensively they didn’t have time to sort themselves out and france punished like any good team would do. They weren’t intentionally playing a tight defence it was simply that france moved the ball off 1 phase all 3 times and they had no time to shape a proper line.

France are going to win the grand slam and yet again prove they are the best team in the northern hemisphere

Wales for second place with a triple crown in the bag

Ireland and England to finish with everyone wondering why they are still so shit despite having a wealth of talented players

Italy to finish with the usual “awww well done italy you tried super hard but your shit”

Scotland…who even cares?

[quote]darraghoconaill wrote:
m0dd3r wrote:
Defensively they bunched up too much and left way too much space open on the wing, especially with a guy like Clerc out there

That was because all of the french scores bar 1 were from turnovers, defensively they didn’t have time to sort themselves out and france punished like any good team would do. They weren’t intentionally playing a tight defence it was simply that france moved the ball off 1 phase all 3 times and they had no time to shape a proper line.
[/quote]

Good point, I think Ireland were over-committing to rucks in the first half, hence drawing their own back line in tight and leaving space open on the outside for counterattacks. They should have been able to maintain possession with fewer men at the breakdown. Especially considering how dominant their pack was in the second half. Overall they just looked terribly unorganized in the first half.

I don’t know, England beat France last year, and Wales looks pretty flash. France has still got some work to do for the grand slam. And I’d say that if Ireland plays as well as they did in the second half against France, they have just as good a chance as Wales to take the triple crown.

I like your interpretation of Italy’s tournament. The IRB should give Italy a few years off to play in the Churchill cup or something and let Argentina be the 6th nation for a bit while they figure out how to work them into the tri-nations. Give France a run for their money.

[quote]m0dd3r wrote:

The IRB should give Italy a few years off to play in the Churchill cup or something and let Argentina be the 6th nation for a bit while they figure out how to work them into the tri-nations. Give France a run for their money.
[/quote]

yeh, i suppose it’s hard to call with italy, the other argument would be that the only way to make them stronger is to leave them there, and i suppose they have without a doubt improved since they’ve entered.

for argentina it’s a very shitty situation, while most of their players are based in europe giving them a place in the 6 nations with a home ground in say spain or somewhere could make sense but i’d say it’s unlikely. The tri-nations i feel they don’t have a hope with. None of the current tri nations teams have anything to gain by letting them in, and again given that most argentinian players are based in europe it would mean a hell of a lot of travellling for games regardless of where they play their home games.

[quote]darraghoconaill wrote:
m0dd3r wrote:

yeh, i suppose it’s hard to call with italy, the other argument would be that the only way to make them stronger is to leave them there, and i suppose they have without a doubt improved since they’ve entered.
[/quote]

I think a lot of Italy’s improvement has come from the players playing professionally in England, France, Celtic league, etc… Much the same as Argentina. Either way, in my mind they rank more as a “developing team” and hence would be a great addition to a tournament like the Churchill Cup (which is geared towards developing teams and countries). They might actually do a better job at bringing up the level of competition in a lower level tournament.

I believe the current situation is that the IRB has said that Argentina will not be brought into the Six Nations and that the UAR (Argentina’s rugby union) has to institute a professional league between now and 2012. After that, they’ll be “fully integrated into the Southern top-flight Rugby playing structure.” Whatever that means.

I just personally think they’re a much higher quality team than Italy and would do a lot to increase the quality of play in the Six Nations. Even if it was just a temporary thing until their pro league gets going and the tri-nations current TV contract ends (in 2010)

Englands team for the weekend:

I Balshaw; P Sackey, J Noon, T Flood, L Vainikolo; J Wilkinson, R Wigglesworth; A Sheridan, M Regan, P Vickery (Captain), S Shaw, S Borthwick, J Haskell, M Lipman, N Easter. Replacements: L Mears, M Stevens, B Kay, T Croft,P Hodgson, D Cipriani, M Tait.

Ashton has been quoted as saying “This is a big, big game for some players, I’m sure you know who as well as I do”. Mmm. I can’t really see why Balshaw is still there. Wigglesworth’s inclusion is promising, but Hodgson (the London Irish scrum half) has been playing really well recently and I’d swap Wigglesworth to the bench. Good to see Tom Croft getting a place on the subs bench, but Easter has a lot to make up after last weeks performance. The entire back row do really. Sheridan and Vickery return to the front row. I’m not 100% in favour of Vickery. After the implosion on the first game for England, I don’t think he has played well enough as a “captain” to make up for his so-so positional play. Unnerving to see Flood, Tait and Cipriani once again hanging around the mid-field. Two out of position fly-halves and an underweight centre. None of them are really big enough to man the midfield, but you know at some point they could all be on the pitch, acting as the counter to the more physically comanding Traille and Marty. Hopefully Vainikolo will cut into the midfield at some point to add some much needed line breaking power.

Ireland team for RBS 6 Nations match against Scotland at Croke Park on Saturday:

G Dempsey (Leinster); T Bowe (Ulster), B O�??Driscoll (Leinster, captain), A Trimble (Ulster), R Kearney (Leinster); R O�??Gara (Munster), E Reddan (Wasps); M Horan (Munster), B Jackman (Leinster), J Hayes (Munster), D O�??Callaghan (Munster), M O�??Driscoll (Munster), D Leamy (Munster), D Wallace (Munster), J Heaslip (Leinster).

Replacements: R Best (Ulster), T Buckley (Munster), P O�??Connell (Munster), S Easterby (Llanelli), P Stringer (Munster), P Wallace (Ulster), S Horgan (Leinster).

Mick O’Driscoll is starting in place of Malcom O’Kelley, who was dropped from the squad altogether due to Paul O’Connell being fit. Good to see O’Connell back, I’m curious as to when he’ll come in.

Tommy Bowe is replacing Geordan Murphy, who was also dropped from the squad, on the right wing. Hopefully this will help shore up the defense out wide. Too bad for Murphy, but he really hasn’t been playing up to par lately.

No changes other than that. Could be an interesting match. Among a multitude of changes, Scotland’s captain, Jason White, is out with a concussion, and they’ve pulled Dan Parks and put Chris Paterson in at stand-off.

Scotland team to face Ireland in the RBS 6 Nations in Dublin on Saturday:

H Southwell (Edinburgh); N Walker (Ospreys), S Webster (Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow Warriors), R Lamont (Sale Sharks); C Paterson (Gloucester) M Blair (Edinburgh, captain); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Ford (Edinburgh), E Murray (Northampton Saints), N Hines (Perpignan), S MacLeod (Llanelli Scarlets), A Strokosch (Gloucester), TBC, TBC.

Substitutes: F Thomson (Glasgow Warriors), G Kerr (Edinburgh), J Hamilton (Leicester Tigers), TBC, C Cusiter (Perpignan), D Parks (Glasgow Warriors), N De Luca (Edinburgh).

wales- 47
ireland…8!
im a happy bunny!

Are they showing this on versus?

[quote]caveman101 wrote:
wales- 47
ireland…8!
im a happy bunny![/quote]

Ehhh… Wales vs Ireland??? Someone shoulda told the Welsh team to take off the Scottish jerseys before they walked out in front of 78,000 people in Croke park today!!

So England beat France… bit of an upset there surely!

Looks like the tournament has been thrown wide open after this weekend. Would anyone be surprised if it came down to the very final game of the series on March 18th with Wales -v- France?

Truesay. England were a lot better. Wigglesworth played really well for a first cap. Quite reminiscent of Matt Dawson. Easter made a decent fist of it and deserved the man of the match award. I’m still not sure what is going on with Vainikolo!?! He didn’t seem to get the ball until the 60th minute. Vickery was much better than last time round, and Sheridan played well. I thought Noon played well also. Much better performance all round.

Wales made some good tries, but I think they could get unstuck against the Irish and/or French. The backs, particularly the wing, fullback and scrum half played really well. The forwards I’m not so sure about.

Wonderful off-loading and slight-of-hand in some of the Ireland tries.

What say everyone else?

nice to enjoy an england game again. highlight for me was to see them stick to it for once and close the game out at the end. good work!
made the previous performances even more frustrating though.

As a Scot, I think we are in a bit of trouble now. Despite selecting a much more attack focused back line, we still look horribly static. I think the stats showed us making something like three times as many passes as Ireland, but never looked threatening in the backs.

Disappointing when some of the players are standing out at club level. Seems they just can’t make the step up. Only plus point I can take out of the game is Strokosch, he did exactly what he does for Gloucester, for Scotland.

Bring on Italy so we can fight it out for the wooden spoon.

As a slight off topic, I haven’t watched any of the Super 14 stuff yet, but we played a tournament with the ELV’s at the tail end of last season. All I can say, as a front five forward, is they are absolutely lung bursting.

I don’t think all the rules have been incorporated into Super 14 though. Will need to watch a game to see.