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Naughty England fail to learn lessons

Ben Dirs | 21:49 UK time, Saturday, 28 February 2009

"Knowledge," said Brian O'Driscoll on Friday "is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad."

God only knows what ends up in the fruit salads of Phil Vickery and Danny Care - brussels sprouts? Segments of Terry's Chocolate Orange? - but they were strangers to both wit and wisdom during Ireland's 14-13 victory over England at Croke Park on Saturday.

Vickery is a man with 71 England caps to his name, yet he still fails to grasp that when a referee warns you not to bind on your opponent's arm, it's probably best not to bind on your opponent's arm at the very next scrum. Such stupidity leads only one way: to the sin bin.


And guess what Vickery was quoted as saying earlier this week? "Referees do communicate and if they are asking you not to do something and you keep doing it, they are going to penalise you." Remarkable.

Care's needless barge on Marcus Horan elicited a furious response from England manager Martin Johnson, who had spent the previous two weeks banging on in the media, and presumably to his players, about the importance of discipline.

"I'd rather not talk about penalties all week but we will keep on until we stop giving too many away," said Johnson before the match.

Thanks to Vickery, Care and the rest of England's knuckle-headed recidivists, Johnson will be talking about nothing else ahead of England's match with France in a fortnight as he reflects on the statistic that 10 of his players have picked up yellow cards in the last four matches.

"They've cost themselves a Test match against one of the best teams in Europe," said Johnson, who was clearly deeply hurt by his side's display.

"You've got to keep your composure in games like that. Some of the penalties we gave away were just stupid. It's incredibly annoying and frustrating.

"It's one of the fundamentals of rugby, not giving away penalties. When you give away 18 penalties away, you're not going to win Test matches."

Johnson must be at the stage where he is asking himself why, when players were ever willing to follow his lead on the field, they are unwilling, or unable, to follow his lead when he is slamming his fist on the sidelines.

It is becoming abundantly clear also that Johnson needs someone other than captain Steve Borthwick to reinforce his message in the heat of battle. When all about him are losing their heads, Borthwick too often keeps his down.

There were few positives to take away from Dublin. Prior to Saturday it had been argued that if England's backs were provided with regular quick ball, they would find holes in the opposition defence. That argument was demolished in the first half, when England's backs simply did not have the wit to unpick Ireland's defence despite a solid enough base.

Indeed, courtesy of some desperately poor kicking, there were times before the break when it seemed both sides were attempting to do the impossible, namely suck the life out of the Croke Park faithful.

Emblematic of just how poor England were was the performance of Delon Armitage, one of the few England backs who seemed to have a spot on this summer's British and Irish Lions tour sewn up before kick-off.

His late try could not paper over some woeful kicking out of hand and some decidedly hesitant play in defence, with some flagrant indiscipline thrown in for good measure.

And it could easily be argued that only wing Mark Cueto and replacement Mathew Tait, who both looked sharp, came out of the game with their reputations enhanced.

Ireland, lest we forget, were almost as poor as England, with Ronan O'Gara seemingly wearing flippers when kicking. Crucially, however, they gave away 10 fewer penalties than England. The result of this discrepancy? Well, that's just simple mathematics.

It was left to O'Driscoll, a man who so often manages to rise above the mediocrity around him, to make sure of the win, and even then England came close to pick-pocketing a result at the death.

At times, England's treatment of O'Driscoll resembled Italy's roughhousing of Diego Maradona at the 1982 World Cup. As Italian hatchet man Claudio Gentile said at the time, "football's not for ballerinas", and to be fair to O'Driscoll, he had no complaints after the game.

However, despite O'Driscoll's heroics, the odds on Declan Kidney's men landing only their second ever Grand Slam will surely have been reduced, and their trip to Murrayfield on 14 March to play Scotland could be a hairy one, let alone the match with Wales on the final weekend.

Talk of Grand Slams must be very far from Johnson's mind at this moment in time. For him, just getting through a game without seeing any of his players yellow-carded is the stuff of a madman's dreams.


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  • Comment number 1.

    We have played close to a third of our last four games with 14 guys on the park, disgracefull, even at schoolboy level disicplin is better, what was care thinking and the way he played inocent on his way off the pitch shocking behaviour, armatidge was luck not to get one as well while wandering into the path of o drical while he chased his own kick.

    Also why do our player feel the need to run into contact instead of passing on the ball case in point tait after his break he had fluty and kueto open and decided it would be better if he ran into contact unsuported and gave away a penlty

    sorry rant over

  • Comment number 2.

    Stupidity, lack of focus, lack of vision. Just 3 of the things I ranted on about to some unwilling friends.
    Why do NZ/ RSA do so well?? Because they do the basic skills to their best ability! They don't worry about being flash on the pitch they just get down and play the game. We had a clear cut chance with Tait ( a very lovely move from the backs), But these are professional players and I'm coaching my team not to have the ball in one hand so they can give an off load. Tait make the break tucks the ball under his left arm when he should be looking to pass left to Flutey and Cueto waiting to jog under the posts!!!!

    Our discipline is now a major problem when we are getting at least 2 yellows a game. If these players are getting yellow cards at England level how come they are not showing the same level of discipline in the GP?

    I share Johnnos frustrations about discipline and these are grown adults we are talking about not 13 year old kids that I deal with.

    Rant over...

  • Comment number 3.

    Let's be fair, England lost by only one point to the grand slam favourite. The game lends itself to poor discipline so don't just point the finger at England. They are making progress and will be a power again- sooner rather than later.

  • Comment number 4.

    Never mind the match everyone, look to the future of English rugby.

    I've just watched Martin Johnno's post match interview. It was Inspired!

    Even when the nation's witnessed his "volcanic" reaction to the sin-binning on TV, the guy's got it all together for the press conference and kept the falling out/shouting matches safely in the dressing room.

    Martin HAS to keep it indoors, sort it out (and I can't think of anyone else more capable).

    I would not like to be one of those England players coming into the dressing room today.

    Not very proud of the England players today but mighty proud (and hopeful) for the future under Martin.

  • Comment number 5.

    Right. Where to start?

    England have made life very difficult for themselves, not least because referees have now become so concerned about clamping down on England's lack of self-discipline that they have simply stopped monitoring England's opposition in similar areas. For example, at O'Driscoll's try, Paul O'Connell had climbed so far over the ruck onto England's side that the refree had to step over him to award the O'Driscoll try. Following Flutey's dubious challenge on O'Driscoll (which wasn't deemed worthy of a penalty even though the referee saw the incident from close range), Heaslip's clearly deliberate, extremely late, challenge on Delon Armitage went unpunished, even though it happened directly in front of the touch judge. Why? Politically incorrect to ping an Irishman in Dublin when O'Driscoll's just been questionably taken down? I don't know. However, I do know that Heaslip should have been sin-binned for it - yet not a single murmur from the officials.

    The ref also chose to ignore several other clear infringements. For a start, there was the yard-forward pass right in front of him. Everyone saw that, apart from the man with the whistle who was closest to the ball...? However, much worse and more damaging than this was when Tait was caught short of the Ireland posts. The fast ball from the resultant England ruck was snuffed out and useless because, funnily enough, all seven Irish backs were standing in front of the back foot of the Irish ruck at the time the ball came out on England's side. That makes them all offside. All seven of them. Even an idiot canb see that one, but no whistle.

    When Goode's conversion of Armitage's try was nearly charged down, the referee was clearly heard to say (on mike) that the Irish charger had "gone too early". The correct award for that offence is a penalty to England from the kick off - that's 14-13 with a penalty in front of the posts 50 metres out, isn't it? The ref told the player he was wrong, but chose not to penalise him. Why? "Two minutes to go, one point in it. What do I do?" Well, as referee, you award the penalty to England. That's called a rule.

    This game was a litany of refereeing inconsistencies, same as the Wales game. Don't get me wrong, I think England are dreadful, riddled with weak players with weaker discipline and it would have been wholly wrong for them to have snatched victory today or (especially) in Cardiff. However, I do think that referees need to be told to referee with a more even hand and stop assuming that England are always in the wrong - they're not, and other sides are getting away with too much. The refs are looking at Vickery, Haskell, Tindall, etc and assuming that they're evil, when in fact there are others who are committing penalty offences with impunity because the ref's busy watching what England are doing or, today, assuming that England will be in the wrong.

    It stinks and, frankly, is marring my enjoyment of watching rugby. I recognise that the best team is still winning (especially against current England), but the refereeing is getting beyond a joke. I'm sure a lot of you Welsh and Irish supporters recognise that you've had a much easier refereeing ride against England than you have against your other 6 Nations opponents.

  • Comment number 6.

    What leads to indiscipline?
    It's not having the skill set to play the game any other way.
    The game today was not a rugby classic; Ireland were a lot less fluent than in their French performance; with identical personel. But they were probably better in every area of the game than England today. England persistently infringed at the breakdown; they unfairly slowed the ball at a lot of rucks, and I didn't see proper binding at any scrummage. Armitage should have been yellow-carded for a blatent shoulder charge on O'Driscoll and should have been penalised for turning his shoulder into O'Driscoll (I think) after he chipped past him just outside the 22.
    England gave away so many penalties, because they were getting no-were and infringed out of frustration. Given the better English performances in years gone by, they are not used to being in this position.
    Johnson has to stop blaming indiscipline and come up with 15players and a game plan that means they don't need to resort to foul play.

    And which one of the English team swapped Ronan O'Gara's and Crusty the clowns boots?

  • Comment number 7.

    England's pathetic performance probably overshadows Ireland who came to the match with a really stupid game plan. You might argue that against this England side keeping it tight and waiting for the penalties to come is reasonable but when your pack is so superior you should aim to develop kick ball and go wide. Additionally the decision making was shocking in the backs kicking away good ball but running from 20 metres behind the gain line or from slow ball, Kearney was particularly guilty of this.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think it has to be mentioned that england need to get there act together. Why put your hands in the ruck and play the ball off your feet when the other team has allready secured the ball and the referee is shouting 'HANDS OUT, ROLL AWAY!', and props as a specialist position and as proffessionals who practice every day somehowstill find it impossible to bind on the shirt; is beyond belief.

    But, despite ill discipline there was a dramatic improvment on the england side. they actually started playing rugby keeping ball in hand and playing the phases. the backs were playing well flood the main difference setting the tempo with flutey in my opinion putting in another solid performance running at pace and looking for gaps. the forwards controlled the game again slowing things down.

    but when the main aim in your defence is to slow down you opponent and stop them from playing of course your going to give away penalties. but thats the risk that johnson has took and the players fault for not listening and in danny cares instance plain stupidity. but some can do it well take worsley i dont think he gave a penalty away against wales or ireland.

    but with this sacrifice in the forwards defensively england havnt got n extra ball carrying strike runner, i know that easter is allegedly a ball carrier, but not affective enough. personally i would like to see either croft or steffon armitage used corectly in the back row to inject some pace and go forward into the pack then if england stick to playing rugby and not chess, then not give away as many petulant penalties there may be a fair few more english victories.

  • Comment number 9.

    What if England had won by one point? What would you "experts" be saying then? You disect the game in minutiae as if it's the most important thing in the world. My God, it's only a game ...and all players, on both sides, are playing their hearts out at great physical risk. So what if a bit of over-enthusiasm leads to a sin bin or two. That's what happens in the heat of the contest. Some people certainly need a boot up the backside - and it's some of the commentators here.

  • Comment number 10.

    Living in Oz at the moment, I am so happy that I stayed up to see one of the worst six nations games I have ever seen. The only upside was the performance by BO'D, two fingers up to all those doubters that have written him off over the last 12 months.

    Agree with the postings regarding decisions made by the ref, but lets be honest, it was a dreadful game but the better side won.

  • Comment number 11.

    Congratulations to Ireland, that was a hard fought victory and Brian O'Driscoll showed why he's an international captain. Awesome.

    As an Englishman i have to say i was happy with the way that England slowed up Irish ball in the first half whilst not giving away too many penalties. Second half though....don't know what to say. Both sin binnings were idiotic (on the part of the players ;-)). If you can successfully slow down the opposition and generally stay on the right side of the ref for one half, why not the other??!!

    Oh well, England are lumbering somewere near in the right direction, and i get the feeling that after Martin Johnson's post-match team talk Danny Care might be wishing he was still injured.

    Once again though, I think that was a well-earned win for Ireland and I would love to see them go on to take the 6 nations crown.

  • Comment number 12.

    The offenses committed by Vickery and Care were not sending off offenses. To be sent off you have to be continually committing fouls , killing the ball, dangerous play, stuff like that. The cards come out far too quickly, especially against England. Certainly Care barged in to the back of the Irish player...but it wasn't a sending off foul. He hadn't been persistently fouling. How many times do we see players actually punch each other in the heat of things and the touchy comes in to report, ref says ok calm it down, no harm done , awards a penalty, even reverses a decision and gets on with it. There was no need to send Care off, it just made everyone say....oh here they go again. IT WAS NOT A SENDING OFF OFFENSE. Please don't start with a rules definition as we could do that with everything.
    Vickery didn't need to be sent off, he hadn't been persistently fouling, certainly no more than others on the pitch. IMO he'd gone in to do what he was supposed to hard, scrummage. Was on his feet initially then with bodies all over the place ends up on his knees. Really not a sending off offense...penalty ok ..but sending off, come on!....overreaction. But I'm not moaning about the ref...he made mistakes, they all do, but a least he didn't go into the game with a pre match agenda..ala Katland.

  • Comment number 13.

    1 minute before Vickery was carded, Borthwick was told that if there were any more killing the ball infringements in the 'red zone', the offending player would be in the bin. So what does Vickery then do? Kill the ball and complain about a yellow card.
    Care, who I'm a big fan of, can also have no complaints. That wasn't rucking by any stretch of the imagination. Johnson's reaction says it all.
    It's no use blaming the referee. If he feels that the captain cannot control his team after warning, he has to take action himself; which is exactly what has happened in the last three games. Borthwick has been told what his team must stop doing, yet they carry on.
    At least it's positive that Haskell has come out and been critical of the players, including himself. Naming his as captain would have raised his game, improved his discipline no end, and probably kept him in England.
    Personally I'd rather see an England team play well, with some decent attacking rugby and lose than play the way we are at the moment and win by one point.
    Armitage seems to have the habit of scoring tires in international rugby, which is a nice natural skill to have, and Tindall showed signs of his form of 2003 towards the end of the game. But to be honest, if you had to pick a World XV, or even a World Squad, at the moment, how many Englishmen would be in it?

  • Comment number 14.

    I am ashamed to see the pathetic attempts by some fans to diminish the English players list of penalties.

    Yes the Irish team were lucky that some of their offenses were ignored but that's just how it goes. How often have English players been in the same position over the years?

    It shouldn't matter how often a player has been commiting a foul during a game, once is one time too many. The fact that any player honoured with their country's shirt attempts to foul, dishonours those whom they claim to represent.

    Deliberate or so called professional fouls are nothing less than cheating and while we can all do regretable things during the heat of the moment, our national teams are supposed to be above acts of petty and unsporting behaviour.

    Any game won by knowingly breaking the rules is not a win to be proud of under any circumstances. In my opinion that sort of team deserves to face the wrath of their countrymen and women for disgracing their country's honour.

    England were lucky that O'Gara was having an off day. Ignoring the fact that when he is on top form he creates openings for the Irish Backs from just about anywhere on the pitch. If all he had done today was to score at each kicking attempt the Irish victory would not have looked so narrow.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    We should have beaten the english by a lot more. O'Gara was in poor form today.

  • Comment number 17.

    The most entertaining aspect of the match was Eddie Butler trying to point out the obvious to Brian Moore who seemed to be somewhat desperately trying to blame the referee for Englands poor performance and indiscipline. It was a poor game but England only came within a point at the end of the game and only because O'Gara left his kicking boots at home.

  • Comment number 18.

    The current English side is not performing well enough to deserve the 6 Nations Championship title. If you've ever played the game, you will already know that.

    Along with many other players / teams in the past (France), England is experiencing problems with on-field discipline. Martin Johnson will deal with that; its his job.

    It is however, patently unfair to complicate MJ's job by employing well paid individuals to provide marginal refereeing performances, regardless of whatever their reasoning or agenda may be. Whilst it is politically acceptable, to ignore this poor quality of refereeing and its impact on our game is naive in the extreme.

    This 6 Nations tournament has shown that adverse comment on referee competence can be (maybe rightly) suppressed by the establishment. They can't however, hide the rugby. Where are you Clive Norling?

  • Comment number 19.

    I do not expect to see either Vickery or Care in an England shirt again. If their indiscipline loses matches, what is the point in having them in the team?

    Borthwick to go as captain? Telling the ref he had to "defend his players" when he waded into the fracas is an admission of intentional indiscipline! However, who's the alternative? We can't have Vickery again based on his current performance!

  • Comment number 20.

    "The most entertaining aspect of the match was Eddie Butler trying to point out the obvious to Brian Moore who seemed to be somewhat desperately trying to blame the referee for Englands poor performance and indiscipline. "

    So Brian Moore was at it again, was he? I now watch the matches on live feed on my PC to get away from his commentary.

    How I miss Bill McLaren! He was a patriotic Scot, yet when he was commentating on a match in which Scotland were involved, he was always scrupulously fair to the opposition, and the referee. He could appreciate, and even enjoy, good rugby, even when it was played against Scotland. Moore isn't fit to fill his shoes - he sees his role as a cheerleader for the England team.

  • Comment number 21.

    Little improvement in England's performance. The only message in the closeness of the score is that England might have gained a rather fortunate win but for their own stupidity and indiscipline. Otherwise it was the same old shortcomings on display - no obvious strategy; lack of midfield guile; lack of second row power; poor game management at half back; and an unimposing captain.
    Some of the above are selection issues, and some are coaching. A change of captaincy would be a start, followed closely by a change in offensive coaching personnel, to address problems that have been apparent for 2 seasons now.

  • Comment number 22.

    123nickx wrote: ”This game was a litany of refereeing inconsistencies”

    Even as a dispassionate Scot I have to agree. I kept asking myself - why did he do this, why did he not do that? Unusual. Nonetheless, England's indiscipline was as appalling as Scotland's perpetual "basic errors".

    I'm glad nobody will get a grand slam - they're just not good enough.

  • Comment number 23.

    Can the BBC please do something about their commentary team. Moore and Butler are as bad as each other, partial, ignorant of the rules, childish and embarrassing. That aside, they are poor at the fundamentals of commentary even when they are not squabbling. If the Six Nations is going to be on the BBC, they have to do it to a reasonable standard and, at the moment, they are not.

  • Comment number 24.

    I always thought Vickery was a deeply stupid player but it now seems this is a pre requisite for England selection, just look at the England backs who have forgotten how to run straight and kick into touch or space.
    If another player kicks without finding touch or space they should be fined their match fee.
    If a player is sin binned he should be fined and dropped.
    Why is it Johnson is having so much difficulty getting his message across to the players? well perhaps it's because he has never coached before .Another masterful decision by the RFU from the Phil Vickery book of clever things to do(the world's smallest book)
    If we had appointed Jake White do you think England would have been dishing this sort of rubbish up?

  • Comment number 25.

    I awaited the game with a feeling today was to be Englands day, and ended it thinking it should have been.

    In the first half the game was stunted, slow and played how England wanted it. We howed we can shut out and slow down a very good attackig side, and without serious ingfringements.

    In the second half we returnde to type, and Vickery's days must now be numbered (hopefully a very small number). If our penalty count was 18, Vickery must have accounted for 4 of them at least, nearly as many as the whole of the Irish team.

    Joubert missed a couple of things, a knock on in the ruck for O Driscolls try was the worst, but we would not have kept them out for long anyway. What it highlighted after last week is that there are some core offenders, Vickery is the worst, and Tindall coughs up more than he should.

    At least MJ knows, if he didn't before, whose performances are hurting him. This must be acted upon, we could have been top of the table with some self control, as well as winning one of the AIs.

    People can not seriously blame MJ for this brain dead behaviour,unless he is telling them to go out and commit penalty offences. Judging by his reaction in the stands, I don't think this is the case!

  • Comment number 26.

    Actually, you can blame Johnson - he has hung his hat on the two best coaches in the world (Ford and Wells) and his Captain (Borthwick). He picks this largely imobile and stupid team and he decides the tactics

  • Comment number 27.

    I'd like to see wholesale changes to the England squad. Vickery, even though I'm a big Wasps fan, is driving me to distraction. Borthwick just isn't up to the job of being a international player, let alone being a captain. Out with the old and in with the new. It's a total fallacy that there's no English talent, they just never get the chance because the old guard is always chosen over "untested" players. So test them!

  • Comment number 28.

    Dull dull dull.

    Thats how I assess Englands performance yesterday.

    I've noticed alot of comment regarding the referee and the decisions he made. I've always felt that alot of words are wasted about referee's in rugby. Often there is a point to be made about a refereeing decision that is particularly poor/bad. However I was always taught that you play to the ref - that means that you abide by his decisions and walk away when what you really want to do is tell the ref what an idiot he is.
    We can dissect the refs performance all we like, its not going to change the result. Vickery deserved that yellow and if anyone is to blame its Borthwick; The ref told him that the next time somone infringed at the breakdown the card would be coming out. At that point Borthwick should have got everyone together and told them in no uncertain terms to stop doing it.
    As for Care..... I hope that Jonno gave him the biggest roasting of his life. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do at a crucial stage in the match and not something that is worthy of a player at any level of the game.

    What I saw yesterday was a clueless England with very little to give in terms of invention and flair and they deservedly lost the game. Out of the whole match, I saw one piece of flair and even that, ultimately, ended up going nowhere.
    There was no leadership on the park from ANYONE let alone Borthwick. I didnt see the scrum half orchestrating his forwards at the breakdown, I didnt see the backs moving about like they should, virtually from the start players were ambling up to scrums and lineouts in ones and twos. Nobody seemed to be talking to each other.

    Toby Flood needs to spend the next couple of weeks deciding what he really wants to do because yesterday he looked totally out of place no matter what he did.

    Jonno has got to get rid of Borthwick as captain and appoint someone who's going to inspire the team. We have the players, they just need someone to inspire them on the pitch.


  • Comment number 29.

    I was always taught to play the ref as well as the opposition. A lot of our guys seem too dumb to operate on that simple premise. This is something that the captain has to sort on the field - if he can't then we need a different captain.

    I think the specialist coaches need a long look at what they are doing too. I lost count of the number of times in the first half when we had clear overlaps but chose instead to take the ball into contact where it was eiether slowed down, given away in a penalty or turned over (not necessary legally). Often this was because we have forwards with poor handling skills lurking in midfield rather than doing the grunt work around the edges of the breakdown.

    Finally (before I end my rant), it's about time that crowds gave the bird loud and long to the dreadful ping-pong that formed most of the first half yesterday. If you are paying hundreds - if not thousands - of pounds (or euros) of good money to support your national team they should at least give you something more interesting to watch than this dross.

  • Comment number 30.

    From the day MJ was appointed England coach, inspite of his glaring lack of qualifications, this story has written itself. When you have a player managing players the only result will be a leaderless and indisciplined team. Look carefully at the player's reactions when being penalised and sin-binned. Are they remorseful and angry at themselves for letting down their team mates and leaving them in the lurch, for letting down their manager and letting down the army of England fans who are willing them on to victory? Or do they moan, wine and complain at how unfair it all is? Their reactions speak volumes for the overall atmosphere prevalent in the England set-up at the moment.

    Their reactions are indicative of a team without a true leader directing events off the pitch. Shouting and banging your fists in a post-match dressing room is nothing more than hollow theatrics and we will not achieve our true potential as an Engling team (which I believe is huge even now) until MJ goes and we put a professional coach in the job.... or me.

  • Comment number 31.

    archLionheart wrote:

    "The offenses committed by Vickery and Care were not sending off offenses. To be sent off you have to be continually committing fouls , killing the ball, dangerous play, stuff like that."

    Let me just comment on this silly post.
    1/ Vickery had been consistantly committing fouls and had been warned by the ref. The ref said to Borthwick prior to his sending off that if another foul was commited in the red zone the a yellow would be produced, So yes a deserved yellow card.

    2/ Danny Care charged into the back of a player which is dangerous play as he can give a player wiplash, yellow card.

    It would be nice if you learnt the rules of rugby before making such uninformed comments.

  • Comment number 32.

    Ireland won a shocking game of rugby yesterday; the right result on performance. However, had England played with 15 throughout the 80 minutes, they might have sneaked a win. This needs dealing with immediately.

    Johnson has to take drastic action to prevent further sin bins. Danny Care should be dropped from the squad altogether as a warning to the rest that indiscipline results in losing their place. Vickery too should suffer the same way.

    How will England improve if there is such complacency in the squad. Jonno needs to be ruthless. Borthwick, Easter must go. Bring in some youthful dynamism, there's plenty out there.

  • Comment number 33.

    I thought the refereeing was pretty even-handed but as an Irishman I suppose I would say that. It did look to me that O'Driscoll was being illegally targetted, especially Flutey's South Sea 'tackle'. England's performance was pretty dim and must reinforce the doubts about Johnson's ability as a coach and man-manager. It's simply not enough to have a face like thunder and scowl a lot. As has been pointed out, if O'Gara had his boots on the correct feet, the contest would have been over by half-time. However I still wouldn't predict a Grand Slam with any confidence.

  • Comment number 34.

    The illegal tactics of the england team must be the real reason why the discipline is so poor.

  • Comment number 35.

    saying england would have won is slightly flattering to england. having played the game in the correct manner, spirit and sticking within the laws of the game then maybe ireland would have won by more. I thought the referee was generous to england, see both late tackles on Brian o driscoll.

  • Comment number 36.

    I agree with most of the other thoughts on this post that England are beng singled out for extra scrutiny by the officials due to a recent history of indiscipline, and unless England revert to the no penalty game as done by Sir Clive's team from 2001 to 2003 then it will only continue, unfortunately.
    As to this game it was clearly heard that the officials called the Irish charge on the final conversion to be too early and illegal and should have been punished with a penalty from the restart, but it wasn't. Why? You can bet if the score had been reversed then Ireland would have been given the penalty, but that just proves that England need tpo be whiter than white until they lose this earned repution of indiscipline.

  • Comment number 37.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 38.

    You can complain about the ref etc etc but in the end the English team were pathetic. These people are being choked with gold to drift around the park, kick aimlessly, stand offside, bind incorrectly, charge people in the back, turn a shoulder into a tackle and generally behave like a group of second rate yobs. Take charge Johnson.

  • Comment number 39.

    I totally agree with poster #5. Some very good points, okay the yellow cards were deserved and lets face it England did'nt deserve to win. But the penalty at the end should have been awarded. Oh and please get rid of Moore and Butler, its past a joke them two. Must admit I had Ireland down to win by 14pts and still think they're good for the GS.

  • Comment number 40.

    Some comments.

    1. Ireland did not scrape a win. They dominated England in nearly every aspect and finished 8 points clear with 2 minutes to go effectively winning it at that stage. Apart from the missed kicks it was one of the strongest Irish displays I've seen in years. England were on very good form as well.

    2. This was a high quality game with massive defensive effort leading some to call it boring.

  • Comment number 41.

    How these guys, representing England, having played rugby most probably since they could walk, can be so naive and down right stupid is beyond me.

    I don't know what goes through their heads when they walk on the green stuff, is it lack of focus?? It's lack of something that as professional sportmen should just be there, period.

    The whole squad needs to step up and remember that they are representing their country, how they have been behaving is just embarassing. Notice I said 'behaving' and not playing, because they have been playing okay, pushing both Wales and Ireland right ot the end. Both of those games could easily have been won so surely it is not lack of beleif that is causing the players to panic and make such ridiculous decisions.

    Maybe they are just weak, weak minded, weak bodied, weak souled. There really is nothing more Martin Johnson can do, it is for the players to sort out, whatever the problem is.

    As far as the rugby goes it looks promising for England, especially on a defensive front. If we can play with that solid defence and counter with our quick, dynamic back three we might actually start winning test matches. God forbid.

  • Comment number 42.

    While agreeing that both Vickery and Care need to be dropped for sheer stupidity if nothing else, I'm also surprised by the relative lack of comment about Flood's performance.

    Quite frankly, he was dire! After every Irish score he kicked off miles down to pitch to give the ball to the Irish with no chance for the forwards to get anywhere near it; again and again he produced aimless kicks ahead that gave the ball back to the Irish. No vision, no imagination, no guile. The only decent bit of flyhalf play from England was Goode's kick to give Armitage his try. Flood wouldn't have had the wit to do that if he played all night!

  • Comment number 43.

    Well I definitely agree with 123nickx, the biggest problem in rugby is the refereeing. There is a definite advantage for the Irish and Welsh teams.

    It seems this year the refs are looking at certain teams and turning a blind eye to others. After a while it’s a pain in the ass.

    In the Ireland France game the ref ‘Monsieur Owen’ waited until the 75 min before penalising the Irish. This is probably a world record. Every team makes mistakes, some are accidental but most of them are done on purpose, hands on the ball in the ruck, not releasing the ball quickly etc

    Tom Shanklin pulled down Imanol Harinordoquy when he was going for high kick and didn’t get a yellow card. If it had been a French player the card would have been out straight away, which is normal as it was dangerous play.

    Against Italy O'Driscoll drove into a ruck head first and head butted an Italian forward, no card and wasn’t even cited

    At one point in the game against France, two welsh forwards were standing in front of the back foot of the welsh side of a ruck. That makes them offside. Did the ref whistle? No he just pushed a French forward back behind the back feet of the French forwards.

    I could probably go on about this problem for hours.

    I know the French and the English make stupid mistakes but so do the welsh and the Irish, both teams are very good at slowing the ball down, they are taught to do it. I can see it, you can see it. the whole world can see it but not the refs this year.

    Most rugby players just want refs to be fair, it’s not the end of the world to lose against a team that are better than you. But when the ref is not doing his job properly it’s as I have said….. a pain in the ass

  • Comment number 44.

    RE: Post #6 (123nickx). Craig Joubert was perfectly correct not to award a penalty on halfway as Law 9.B.3 (a) states: 'if the opposing team infringes during a kick at goal but the kick is successful, the goal stands. If the kick is unsuccessful, the kicker may take another kick and the opposing team is not allowed to charge'. So in actual fact Craig Joubert was perfectly correct not to award a penalty as that is not the sanction as stated in the LOTG. Surprisingly, referees do know the LOTG inside out!

  • Comment number 45.

    I'm sorry but I increasingly think I'm watching a different game to everyone else. How anyone can confidently claim that the best team won is beyond me. There was absolutely nothing between these two teams save for England's indiscipline which has cost them. Right down to the final whistle it could have gone either way.

    The forwards were so closely matched that neither team could put together more than 3 or 4 phases of quick ball. When it was spread wide the midfield had each other so closely marshalled that there were no real line breaks. The kicking game was equally poor from both sides.

    I know the rugby media are determined to carry on with this narrative that Ireland and Wales are the best teams in the championship and nothing will stop them from a final weekend showdown but it was plain to see that Ireland were not inherently better than England last night.

    And as for some Irish fans whining that their fly-half wasn't on form, is that a valid excuse now? Because we haven't had a consistent kicker/fly-half for 5 years so if we could just erase those results from the history books it would be much appreciated.

    /obligatory rant

    On a less belligerent note I'm not sure what Martin Johnson can possibly do about the kind of penalties we are giving away. Or for that matter what Borthwick can do. If someone is so dim-witted as to smash into another player off the ball when there is no pressure and when we have the ball then what can Johnson or Borthwick do about it? Short of shouting "don't give away penalties" every five seconds I don't see what can be done.

    But it's not just the yellow card penalties which are costing us dearly. It's the brainless indiscipline when we should be putting pressure on the opposition. For instance when we put a kick in behind Ireland and O'Driscoll scampered back to dive on it. We had them turned, deep in their 22 with nowhere to go. At worst they give us posession in their half, at best they give away a penalty in their 22. But what does Flood do? He dives straight on top of O'Driscoll, gives away a penalty and Ireland easily relieve pressure. It's these pointless penalties which need to be reversed.

  • Comment number 46.

    Firstly i would like thank the true England fans for coming on here and congratulating Ireland.
    England are not as bad as what is tried to be portrayed in the media and i believe that should you lower your penalty counts in matches, you will then start to win a few matches thus gaining momentum and confidence.

    To those that are coming on here and claiming that there is a conspiricy against England. You are sad individuals to say the least. You have played 3 games so far with 3 different refs and the outcome has been the same. You get put on the back foot and end up infringing. Simple.

    With confidence England will go into games and try to win instead of trying not to lose.

  • Comment number 47.

    What's to congratulate (eirebilly) ?

    I'll be happy to do so when Celtic sides raise their sights high enough to become true contenders on the world stage , start to beat Southern hemisphere sides and progress much beyond the group stages of the RWC.

    There's's little chance of that happening whilst they regard beating England and the occasional Triple Crown or Grand Slam as the pinnacle of their careers.

    I'm inclined to agree with the earlier reference to the refereeing of Celtic sides - it's as though refs have bought into the same notion that wherever, however well they're olaying or are ranked, the Celtic sides are perennial underdogs and ref them accordingly.

    When Ireland, Wales and Scotland can shrug off that inferority complex, treat England as their equal rather than their Colonial tormentors and set their sights higher they'll earn my admiration.

  • Comment number 48.

    Just simply a dull game played by dullards.

    I find myself as an Englishmen losing the will to watch.

    The officating was fine with calls going for and against both sides. No quarrel with the cards.

    England are simply off the pace and void of talismanic, on pitch, leadership. Borthwick is not the man for the job but there is so little choice. The big question is how can a nation with more registered players than anyone else have a cupboard so bare?

    There are good players but nobody that leaps out as great and one of the few with real potential, Cipriani, was elevated to superstar status before getting his kit dirty.

    Time to clear out the jolly boys club at the top, put away the chariot next to the fleet of Range Rovers and prune the Rose bush.
    New thinking for new times, who knows the rolling maul may not be reinstated in time to save England's decline.

  • Comment number 49.

    The ref bashing seen here is pointless diatribe. England have earned their reputation for fouling unless you missed it they gave away 18 penalties. Johnson said it himself you can't win games doing that.

    Any team regardless of what level they play at, who consistently foul their opposition to the point that 2 yellow cards nearly every game is considered normal should expect every referee to punish even the slightest rulebreaking.

    When I played my coach drilled it into us if you get a reputation as dirty players then even when you don't put a foot wrong, you are still dirty players. If that holds true at schoolboy level then why not at international level?

    Ireland were by no means the outright deserved winners yesterday. Complaining about O'Gara not kicking well is not just an empty moan. Yes he missed kicks that would have given the Irish a greater lead at the end.

    The complaint has more to do with his ability when on form to put the ball behind the opposition, giving the backs room to run by ensuring his opposition stand back from the play slightly in order to ensure that they can gather in those kicks.

    It also should not be forgotten that when those Irish backs do get the chance to show off teams like England get hammered by 30 clear points. I fully agree with the Irish, if O'Gara had been on form then yesterday's result could very well have been a repeat of their victory 2 years ago.

    The English team yesterday did only one thing well and that was to slow down the Irish in the first half. They stood up close to the Irish line and prevented the free passage of the ball from the forwards to the backs.

    When they had been forced onto the back foot most especially in the second half the English team did not seem to have any game plan to deal with it. Desperation set in and that's when stupid penalties were given away.

    Frankly untill England Rugby has a complete change, both of players and playing style then English fans should expect to keep losing and expect referees to penalise the team for any and all infringements

  • Comment number 50.

    there are signs that england can become great once more, but it looks to be a long way away. as an englishmean living in wales i'm now praying that ireland do the grand slam. Brian O'Driscoll...pure class and has clearly put the dip in form of the last 12 months well behind him now...bring on the Lions, he's a dead cert.

  • Comment number 51.

    I assume by your name that you are an Aussie?
    If you can read my post again you will see that i congratulated England and also pointed out that they are not as bad as they are portrayed in the media. So where is this inferiority complex then??
    I dont understand why you bring the southern hemisphere sides into a debate about the England and Ireland match either but since you have, The northern hemisphere sides have acknowledged the class difference between us and are working hard to try and be competitive.

  • Comment number 52.

    England are an incredibly frustrating team to watch. For all the hard work in defence (mainly by the two flankers) to concede that many penalties and 2 sin bins again is a joke at this level. They are professional players who are representing their country and need to understand that responsibility. I would drop Vickery and Care as a warning to the rest. Borthwick is the softest captain I have ever seen, him and Easter couldn't get past the gain line if they were running at paper. This is the weakest set of forwards I ever seen play for England. Thank God for Sheridan who at least has a bit of muscle. Bring back Simon Shaw for Borthwick. We need Wilkinson desperately, White in for Vickery, Lewsey back at full back and a decent number 8 someone like Andy Powell.

  • Comment number 53.

    Hmmm...nickx123 wrote "The ref also chose to ignore several other clear infringements. "

    You're not wrong. The England full back should have been in the sin bin twice for deliberately wiping out the man after the ball had long gone. The bottom line yesterday is that England looked stale and talentless (Cueto & Tait excepted) and resorted to foul play to compensate. The sad thing is that even though they had little imagination, they probably still had enough in the locker to beat Ireland if they'd just behaved themselves.

  • Comment number 54.

    the sooner johnson realises that the 'hard man' attitude that he tries to force into this team is the reason for the penalties the sooner they will stop.

    For the rest of us we just sit back and laugh and laugh and laugh, in fairness ireland were 20 points better than england yesterday everyone knows that king o gara had an off day that is why it was so close, in all other aspects ireland easily were in front. Its going to be interesting regarding the lions will the sponsors force england selection to bolster revenue (ala the disgraceful decison to bring wilkinson and the even more disgraceful decision to play him in the last lions series). will money rule and ensure we have a token english player starting? As it stands armitage and possible tait are the only two england player who deserve to even make the squad for south africa- there will be more scots on the lions squad than english if it was done on merit and not on merchandise selling power.

    i really just hope real rugby players from my own country anyway dont lose out to the knuckle headed english lads, as it stands its a welsh and irish lions team, with perhaps blair pushing for a starting berth leading the scottish charge, but out of a 40 man squad there are only 2 english men worthy of a place anyone who disagrees is obvious english!!

    7-8 irish lads on the lions team and the same with wales- well at least we will have passion!!

  • Comment number 55.

    I don't understand what all the bleating is about. Everyone says the indiscipline cost England a test match, but let's be clear. If it hadn't been for England's indiscipline (and ROG's kicking I suppose), then they wouldn't have even been so close!

    The only way England were ever going to get near Ireland yesterday was to spoil, provoke, deliberately and cynically slow down the ball, defend desperately, intimidate the Irish and the referee and silence the crowd. And all credit to them, it damn well near worked!

    MJ must actually be secretly delighted with his tactics. The streetwise, beligerant, win-at-all-costs approach played right on the referee's threshold all day and had Jonno written all over it!!

    While they got away with it to half-time, they just got more desperate and less subtle in the second half and the ref lost his patience. To complain about the ref when he could have doubled the sin-binnings is just one-eyed and short-sighted. And as for the late penalty for charging early, talk about clutching at straws! Yes, those 'oul grapes are definitely sour!!

    You guys shouldn't be so harsh. The only thing Care and Vickery did wrong was get caught! It's difficult I know, because the shoe used to be on the other foot, and because it just so nearly worked, but I thought England were superb yesterday and were just beaten in the end by a superior team.

    Those who say this was a poor match just don't know their rugby. It was fascinating and you couldn't look away for a minute. A very limited, but improving English team very nearly de-railed an exciting and experienced Irish team - fair play to them - but O'Driscoll's performance alone was worth the entrance fee!

    Ireland would have buckled against these tactics in previous years, but they were composed, patient and professional. Nervous and naive at times maybe, but deserving of the win without any shadow of a doubt.

    You can only beat what's put out in front of you and I am so proud of Ireland's attitude. Every one of them played their part and BOD and POC led them like the world-class players we know they are. Lions shoe-ins for me.

    I can't remember anyone winning a Grand Slam by beating everyone else by 20 points or 4 or 5 tries. Ireland are still on course and need to concentrate on Murrayfield before even considering Wales. But keep the faith lads - Declan is a cool customer.

    And England, with a bit of work, you might still win the Calcutta Cup......?!

    Erin go bragh


  • Comment number 56.

    Re;English Rugby;When I played rugby years ago,kicking the ball all over the park was not an option.The game was invented because someone picked up the ball and ran with it.That appears to have gone out of fashion in the game today.You can't score TRIES by kicking the ball you can only score by running and keeping possession ,taking the hits but at least getting the ball back so as the faster players get a chance to go for the line.Why do scrumhalfs box kick from the scrum when the forewards have just spent a gruelling time trying to win it then scrumhalfs give it back to the opposition.Stupid,no wonder Martyn Johnson was furious.England had that game won the same as the Welsh game but screwed it up with stupid KICKING. Come on get back to basics and you might start winning again.When I went to see them play the beat Wales 62-5 so where have those days gone. Cheers trebornottus

  • Comment number 57.

    RE: Post #46 (AJCRU789). Craig Joubert was perfectly correct not to award a penalty on halfway as Law 9.B.3 (a) states: 'if the opposing team infringes during a kick at goal but the kick is successful, the goal stands. If the kick is unsuccessful, the kicker may take another kick and the opposing team is not allowed to charge'. So in actual fact Craig Joubert was perfectly correct not to award a penalty as that is not the sanction as stated in the LOTG. Surprisingly, referees do know the LOTG inside out!

    Shock horror, an Englishman (123nickx) not knowing the laws of the game, much like a lot of the team.

    The obvious that England are poor at the moment. The more England fans moan about the ref, the more they ignore the real problems with English rugby. On a side note, the fact is yesterday that we played poorly and England played pretty well (well as well as they can play with that team methinks)...and still lost. Says it all really.

  • Comment number 58.

    The 6Ns games so far have left me bemused about many things, so lets start with the simple.

    It would appear that tackling a player in the air is a penalty offence, but when does it become a yellow-card?

    Listening to Jonathan Davies (has many wise things to say) & his fellow pundits, you would think that the yellow card should be out on every such incident, but clearly the referees don't share the same opinion.

  • Comment number 59.

    There seem to be quite a few English conspiracy theorists on here. There is no conspiracy - just indiscipline in plentiful supply. I don't understand the calls for the BBC to get rid of Butler. He was fine until Moore came along. Get rid of Moore and do everyone a favour! btw, had O'Gara been kicking well yesterday, the result would've been decisive.

  • Comment number 60.

    123nickx - your post should be used to explain the word bitter in the dictionary!!

  • Comment number 61.

    'If O'Gara was on form ' 20 points??

    Did you see the game? That was as an inept display by both sides as we have seen since England's performance v Wales 08.

    I think the faithful at Croke Park (of all nationalities) should have been given free Guiness and there should have been a rerun of Wales v France on the big screen during the match.

    England are poor and therefore to win by a point is as close to being equally poor as you can get.

    Lion's team. We better get working on cloning O' Driscol if 7 Irish players are to get in the starting line up. For England the only way for them to get on the pitch will be carrying water (as painful as that is for an Englishman to say.)

    Still Kenboss11 you did make me 'laugh and laugh and laugh'

  • Comment number 62.

    Everything has been said of the England performance that is worth saying and whilst Ireland deserved to win and are rightly congratulated for doing so they really need to think long and hard about how they are going to deal with Scotland. If Scotland make a point of limiting O'Gara's game it could all go horribly wrong for Ireland. Good as he is when on song he can be fragile and Ireland don't have the luxury of having David Humphreys on the bench to take over these days.

    The Irish in me will be cheering you on through the next 2 games. Brian O'Driscoll deserves an historic championship success for all he has brought to international rugby.

    Go for it.

    From an England supporter.

  • Comment number 63.

    Perhaps England players, before being selected, should have hearing and IQ tests. Instead of yellow cards they could be given Homer Simpson masks to put on for the 10 minutes. They were fortunate to have only 2 yellows, they could have had four.

    Are England being picked on? No, the referee gives them warnings and instructions, which they choose to ignore. Duh!

  • Comment number 64.

    I agree with the comments made about the commentators, Brian Moore in particular.

    He really spoiled the game for me.

    First lesson in TV commentating is that this is TV not radio. The viewers can see what is going on, and every time someone kicks a ball, we don't need him to explain to us that the ball has been kicked.

    Fewer words please Brian, next time, and let the visuals speak for themselves.

    What training do commentators receive? The standard they reach is very variable!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    "The offenses committed by Vickery and Care were not sending off offenses. To be sent off you have to be continually committing fouls , killing the ball, dangerous play, stuff like that."

    When the referee states that the constant infringement by the team will result in the next individual offender in the sin bin? What is there not to understand?

    This problem of indiscipline has been with us for so long now, starting after Woodward. How many times have we seen the game plan being forced into unacceptable risks, because we have given the opposition a 9 point lead due to indiscipline?

    What we must have is a captain who can see through red mist and lay it out there and then, in no uncertain terms to any player who is having difficulty in understanding the simplest of concepts. Not only that you need the other players to point out to these individuals they are in no way helping the team by their actions. Borthwicks lame protestations to the ref after Vickery was sin binned immediately rules him out from the position, in retrospect he would have been far better served by assisting Vickery from the pitch with the toe of his boot. Someone is needed who will let any player know exactly their responsibility and back that up regardless, even to the extent of that player no longer taking the field.

    Ever since Woodward and our World cup win this problem has been endemic within the England camp, occasionally masked by the absence of pressure. Enough is enough.

  • Comment number 66.

    after each penalty the captain was seen to do not very much, it wasnt nipped in the bud, if MJ had been on the field he would have sorted them out. MJ isnt playing now but he needs a captain who can stand up and be counted, its too late to wait for half time
    poor play and weak dicipline/captain

  • Comment number 67.

    I would just like to praise the performance of Steven Ferris for Ireland yesterday. So many big tackles,fantastic ruck and lineout work and show some nice offloading as well. Must be pushing for a Lions Squad place now as he continues to improve for Ireland and for me is the most impressive number 6 so far in the competition

  • Comment number 68.

    Sadly J Davies a made a good point. If England didn't play on the margins of the law in the ruck, how many points would we concede? Then again Richie McGraw gets away with it all day so I guess we need to be smarter or slyer.

  • Comment number 69.

    Those complaining about Moore are right. However, having to sit through Dallalgio's commentary of the Scotland match was equally painful. Do you have to be an ex England player to commentate for the BBC these days? Still, Matt Stevens can look at Dallalgio and use him as a beacon of hope.

  • Comment number 70.

    As an Englishman I am furious at our ill discipline but I think enough has been said about point in whinging too much just get on with it..however, as someone who has played semi professional rugby for 6 or so seasons the one thing that I have noticed, in all games, not just England's is a complete lack of consistency in the refereeing, all of the game so far have had several offenses which have gone one way one moment and another the next. To take an example from yesterday; O'Connell challenges Kennedy in the line out, completly fairly, all is well. Next line out, Kennedy does exactly the same and gets pinged. Tackling; Fluety should clearly have been penalised for his charge on O'Driscoll and isn't, one of the Irish lads, can't remember who, challenges a bit late but legally and gets done. I could list about 20 examples from this weeks games alone. When will the refs just get some bloody consistency? How can players know when they can and can't if it changes not just between who is reffing but in the course of a game! Any way rant over and I shall leave the rest of my comments for another day!

  • Comment number 71.

    England's very high level of penalties and free kicks has been going on for along time now----certainly well before MJ took over. I'm fairly certain that there can't have been more than 5/6 matches over the last 5 years when the opposition have given away more. The indiscipline is disgraceful especially considering the high salaries that these guys get paid for being the "elite of English rugby" [very debateable!!!] Yes, MJ and the other coaches can talk about this with the players until they are blue in the face but on the field of play the players have to be self-governing/responsible for their actions. So where is Steve Borthwick in all this? He's the one who should be laying down the law to his troops during the game but he clearly isn't. It has to stop and immediately and the only way is to change your captain to someone who has the respect of the other players AND can make them listen to him during the game. I'm sure that like most England supporters I'm fed up with hearing the comments like "We must do better in this area" and "The guys know they've let themselves down". Even chairmen of huge banks can't get away this anymore!
    I'm not suggesting for one minute that the players aren't "giving their all" but players who consistently give away penalties or get yellow carded should be dropped from the team until such time as the management believe they have got the message as to the reason for their being dropped.
    Final part of my rant, we need an 8 who runs straight with real venom--look at Parisse and Powell---real power and determination. Easter is too slow and cumbersome and runs laterally far too often.

  • Comment number 72.

    how many times did we here the ref yell Rollaway White, the reasons

    1 England are playing without a recognized open side flanker so the whole team whether told by the management or not feel that Wurzle (brilliant tackler) and blindside flanmker are getting to the breakdown slightly later than the oppo so are tempted to hang on/cheat

    2 Professional fouls are considered clever and go unpunished in the English Premiership so the players are in the ill get away with it mindset

    Solution all premiership games should be reviwed and persistent proff fouling, offside, tackling without ball etc etc should be as severly punished as dangerous play cos its killing our game and players just think its being proffesional

  • Comment number 73.

    To be honest its an embarrasing disgrace...

    Martin Johnson definitely has my backing as a coach, but his players definitely are not helping him with their stupid antics on the pitch.

    England have silenced the Millenium Stadium and Croke Park - two cauldrons of world rugby, yet they have the ability to throw it away by conceding stupid penalties and playing 1/4 of the match every week with 14!

    I think Steve Borthwick isn't the right man to take England forward, personally when fit Tom Rees is my favourite to take up the captaincy. As for the carded players, they need to be dropped. It's a shame Matt Stevens was banned, as I feel he is far better than Vickery, but maybe for now we need to drop the ill-disciplined players.

    By all means push the referee to gain the advantage, but the world's best teams (New Zealand especially) have the nack of not getting caught - we need to take a leaf out of their book and either wise up or clean up our acts!!!

  • Comment number 74.

    Buttler and Moore.

    Do we need a petition to the BBC?

    Brian Moore was a great servant of English rugby, on the field. Yesterday he again clearly demonstrated an absolute lack of ability to remain even remotely neutral, and "commentate".
    Also can someone please tell him how to pronounce "penalise" - the most comminly used word in yesterdays commentary.
    Eddie Butler must want to throttle him, having to sit beside him in the box.

    Honestly there are dozens of ex-english, irish, welsh , scottish, portugese, french georgian, isreali, morocan rugby players who could add more to the BBC team.

    ....oh, and gag Austin Healey.

  • Comment number 75.

    England need to remember Woodward's T-CUP principle. Thinking Clearly Under Pressure. Actually so could Johnson for that matter, it was odd sight to see him ask for his players to keep their composure when he had so clearly lost his own.

  • Comment number 76.

    Bit too easy/ too much of a cliche to blame Borthwick, Ben.

  • Comment number 77.

    yesterday's England game showed how low discipline in the England team has gone.

    the players are meant to be professionals but their conduct on the park can normally only be seen in street fights and brawls after chucking out time in most English towns.

    It was obvious that O'Driscoll was targetted by the England squad and must have spent have the game concussed after the many 'off the ball' incidents.

    the matched should watched again by the RFU with a view to looking at the future of the English game

    Completely embarassing - deserved to lose

  • Comment number 78.

    I have never been so frustrated as an England Fan. England need to go back to basics. Too many times were our forwards unable to ruck an Irish Back off the ball.

    Borthwick is not a born leader, he has alot to learn but I don't think he is up to the job. I can't really see anyone in the England set up that is up to the job.

    Harry Ellis is too nice when it comes to his role too. The Scrum half is meant to be a leader and direct the play as well as show a bit of rough play. Danny Care went a bit too far with that, but I believe that when he came on he did have more control than Ellis had shown.

    England need to find a Scrum half who will dominate the proceedings, one that will control the forwards. A few times yesterday it seemed that our forwards were very lax when it came to getting to the breakdown, there is no trust between them and the backs, when this happens you find forwards thinking that they are better out of the action because they think that they can play better at centre/winger etc. When we did have overlaps instead of having the pace men outside, we had the fatties. Warren Gatland ensures that his forwards play as forwards and his backs play as backs, this is just rugby at its simplest.

    With regards to the mistakes that were made when we did have the pacemen outside, those were just schoolboy, not looking around for your support, carrying the ball in one hand, getting whiteline fever etc etc.

    Changes need to be made, I would like to see Tait get his chance again. He is still carrying the blame for his debut game against Wales in 2005. He is a real impact player. The fringe players need to be given some time now, we have nothing to lose so its best to give them the experience and time in Test Rugby.

    Oh and on the commentary I actually enjoy Brian Moore commentating. If you actually listen to what he says, he criticises the English play unlike any other. He is just a bit passionate about England.
    I think Butler needs to go though, I can't stand him.

    Rant over

  • Comment number 79.

    After week 1 of the tournament, I suggested on htis forum that, on current performance, there would be no Englishmen in the Lions Test XV or even 22. Nothing has made me change my mind on this. Anyone disagree?

  • Comment number 80.

    No Englishman in the Lions test team? Not so sure about.

    Sheridan is playing well in an underperforming team.

  • Comment number 81.

    If all England have to worry about is their discipline, that is fine.
    The improvement in the play from the turgid dispaly against Italy and the gutsy efforts against Wales and then yesterday, against probably the best side in the Northern Hemisphere bodes well for the future.
    Put it this way, I would not like to have been in the England dressing room yesterday when Johnson said his piece and his honesty and passion in the post match interview was refreshing and brutal.
    He, at least, is realistic.
    Gatland knows that Wales are on the slide towards another World Cup without a second phase and yet he does not have the passionate response of a Martin Johnson.
    Ireland will win a Grand Slam this year.
    As for the comments about the Lions and who is in and who is out, this is second string importance to a strong side for the World Cup.
    Looking forward to the rest of the tournament, as always a good watch!

  • Comment number 82.

    Sheridan is under-performing by his own high standards. Reasonably solid in the tight but little impact in the loose. We would all love to see him rumble! Better options elsewhere I think?

  • Comment number 83.

    What can you say? Awful and shocking. Just shocking.

    Ireland certainly weren't great and what on Earth was that kicking from both sides supposed to achieve in the first half? But England................

    The trouble is sides know they don't need to do anything against England now. They just try and keep position in England's half a bit, just keep rucking and mauling and eventually England will give away a penalty where they can choose to kick for three or England will get a yellow card where they can decide to push on for the try.

    Some of those England players are a stupid as they look. It just looks as if they are using attrition and fouling as a replacement for their lack of skill and talent.

    The only bright spot, and I mean only, was Tait and the quick ball played to get a try scoring chance. You can't pick on him for that one chance though, because precious little else was created apart from the try that they were a bit lucky to get.

    Quick ball? There's a laugh though. When we had men over there was no awareness whatsoever of where the men were to get an advantage. When we had possession in their half we got turned over or gave away a penalty and it came to nothing. Either that or it was simply kicked straight back to Ireland when we needed possession desperately.

    I can't remember watching any rugby match and being so frustrated. The future doesn't look bright. Not one bit. Goodness knows what Martin Johnson must feel.

  • Comment number 84.

    I'm sorry, people can say what they want but we NEED Wilkinson back to get our ineffective backs working again and we need him to captain our team, the only player that has leadership skills.
    tait in for tindall, so what if our defence isn't as good we might actually win a couple, in the slow pack; borthwick out, shaw in
    easter out croft goes open side to maybe win some ball on the floor a player that we lack, worsley blind side and haskell 8.
    drop care from the squad, to set an example. whilst jonny is injured keep flood at fly-half, thought our back three were ok last game. whatever happens MJ needs to revamp the pack.

  • Comment number 85.

    While I don't diagree that a penalty count of 2:1 against is not good, I do wonder if we were watching the same game. Phil Vickery was not sin binned for binding on the arm. He did concede a penalty for that, but he was sin binned for being off his feet at a ruck, despite being repeatedly told to roll away.
    I presume we are also talking about the same Matthew Tait, who seems to have vision impairment in his left eye, or an aversion to passing to non Sale players. I thought Delon Armitage was, and has been, one of the true lights to come out of the England campaign so far. To single him out for his poor kicking is to ignore what else was going on around him.

  • Comment number 86.

    Martin Johnson always killed the ball in the ruck when he played - I can still remember that long body curled around the player on the ground preventing release in every game he played, so it's hardly surprising that his teams do the same.

    I am not sure you English fans will get what you are looking for from Jonno. Perhaps what he is telling them is to kill the ball but don't get caught at it? I noticed in his post match comments he has been excusing Care 'you are allowed to clear players in the ruck'. Maybe he and his rugby league coaches should learn about getting up immediately after a tackle - look at Brian O'Driscoll and learn - he tackles like a flanker but lets the player go immediately and gets back on his feet and wins the ball at least half the time

  • Comment number 87.

    Lot of sour grapes in those posts chaps, suggest you hang onto them and make some vinegar instead.

    Don't shout about the referees, before a ref can call an offence he has to see it happening in the first place. Joubert was not too bad last night and could have called a lot more. Why no red card for the high shoulder charge on Brian O'Driscoll, why no Yellow for Heaslip, i could go on all night.

    If referees are going to be given rules to play to then they must play to them, if England can't do it then the coaching team need to find players who can play to the rules.

    England only have themselves to blame, they are inconsistent at best, at worst totally incompetent. Vickery and Care need taken out...and left out for ever. As for the forwards, no bite, the backs witless against the Irish defence, if, as has been said England want to be a world power in Rugby I strongly suggest they get rid of the whole lot of them including the Novice Coach and start a fresh. They are a long way from winning a six nations tournament.

    Ireland were awful yesterday but did enough to deserve the win but i doubt there will be a Grand Slam this year, can't see them beating Wales.

    The best bit for me yesterday was Brian Moore (though it pains me to say it), to hear him lambasting England at every error was sweet music to this Scotsmans ears, how Eddie Butler managed not laugh.

    Scotland are worse so at least you can look forward to at least another win.

  • Comment number 88.

    One often forgets that playing for England is in fact a paid job, and that we the public pay in many ways to watch this team play. I will support England forever, and a true supporter is one that stands by his team through the worst of times. Like with all jobs, without successful leadership, failure will inevitably follow. In the days of MJ as captain, no one would dare perform like they did yesterday, with Botherwick on the pitch, not only would he not say anything to the players regarding self-discpline but he is more than likely to take a swing himself. Steve cannot be blamed entriely for England's performance, but I cannot see why this man still is wearing an England jersey? He is weak in position, and weak in captaincy.

    England made it to the final of the World Cup, yet following this Rob Andrew called for a full investigation into England's performance (notably from the early stages). A coach must take the burden, as he is the one selecting the players. His response to Danny Cipriani was to drop him immediately after poor performance, the correct decision - he came back from injury too soon, and will be an asset to English rugby in the future, with correct management. The big thing for MJ is what next, who will he drop for the French, as if we play like that in two weeks time, and the French play like they do on Friday, we are indeed in trouble.

    There is talent in England, and talent that can be developed, but until discipline is displayed, we will not win test matches.

    From a very concerned English fan.

  • Comment number 89.

    The RFU need replacing top to bottom. End ELVs.

  • Comment number 90.

    Like a bad workman with his tools, some people want to put the convenient blame on the referee, and are even drumming up some daft conspiracy theories on bias against England and in favour of Wales / Ireland.
    Well, it's obvious nonsense and is just seeing the game through conveniently red rose tinted spectacles. Like any addict, if we don't first admit our problem it will never get sorted. And in reality, we were lucky that Flutey stayed on the pitch for a charge that looked more made in Samoa than made in New Zealand, arms outstretched like an albatross with no attempt to tackle. And Armitage committed a clear professional foul to stop a try scoring opportunity. Unlike Danielli earlier in the Scotland / Italy game who chipped and ran straight into the defender (and was correctly penalised himself), Armitage had enough time to turn his back on O'Driscoll and drop his shoulder - so he had enough time to get out of the way and it was clearly cynical.
    And sorry to say it, but those on about Heaslip's charge on Armitage are just being (mis)led by Briam Moore. It should have been a penalty, but was innocuous compared to Flutey's wholly unpunished charge of moments earlier, and lacked the try saving advantage of Armitage's blockage on O'Driscoll.
    It's not the referees who are causing all the penalties awared against England, it's the number of penalties that England are committing. I think the commentator in the press who today said England are putting so much pressure on the win at all costs that they panic at the prospect of defeat is closest to the truth.

  • Comment number 91.

    "And sorry to say it, but those on about Heaslip's charge on Armitage are just being (mis)led by Briam Moore. It should have been a penalty, but was innocuous compared to Flutey's wholly unpunished charge of moments earlier, and lacked the try saving advantage of Armitage's blockage on O'Driscoll."

    Couldn't agree more - Moore's commentary is a liability and gives the conspiracy theorists something to cling on to. He should go and soon!

  • Comment number 92.

    So much that is frustrating. Yes England are dumb and there are players there who are too slow and ponderous for modern post ELV rugby - Easter - head down in space doesn't pass - for example. Makes you mad!

    But the referees are being really bizarre this season and I would argue the revised way of reffing the breakdown has actually caused more problems than the ELVs.

    They are penalizing players who are on their feet viz Goode against Wales, but worst of all because they are concentrating on the breakdown they are ignoring offside and some of the other silly stuff. Armitage barging into BOD was silly and probably a penalty. Fluety didn't properly tackle, but BOD had the ball and it was marginal.

    But there was a lot of Irishmen who could have qualified for a white shirt yesterday - since they were far offside. Two tackles on England players when they were in the air were ignored, the knockon before BOD's try, forward passes, the early charge on Goode's conversion - the list could go on.

    The problem seems to me that the ref has too much to do and can't cope with everything, so they get selective and focus on the breakdown and go hang everything else.

    So perhaps rugby has to decide what it really wants a game to be. Last season the Premiership was brilliant, this season I have seen, perhaps, 3 good games. Most of the iffy-ness is down to the kicking - which seemed to start in the World Cup (pre ELVs) and is not helped by the breakdown reffing.

    I don't want this great game ruined, but something seems to have got into everyone this year and it is NOT GOOD!

  • Comment number 93.

    I am really finding this hard. Why are England the only team in the six nations or even the world of rugby who think they can give 20 penalities away every game and expect to win. No wonder refs get fed up with our stupidity. Carey was senseless, and Vickery whilst I thought was unlucky yesterday was told to move away.

    These are professionals and would suggest next week they read the rule book before poor old Martin explodes.

  • Comment number 94.

    I think that everyone should put their allegance on the post they send. For those who have I admire your approach to what is still the greatest game on earth. I'm an englishman with irish family.

    There are clearly some very bitter comments on here.

    I think MJ is the right man for the job. England were famous for the lack of ambition showed in the past, but have now outscored wales on the try count and could have scored more against ireland. The clear short fall is discipline.

    The australian who commented on the difference in class between the nothern and southern hemisphere needs to be reminded of a welsh team during the most recent autumn friendlies. Your good, but not invincoble.

    Lets look to the future and not think about what would have happened if jake white had been given the role.

    The sad reality is that england have lost 2 games on the bounce, however narrowly, to better sides, cut out the porr discipline and england are closer to a grand slam side than they are given credit for.

  • Comment number 95.

    the england team should be

    Sheridan, Mears, Vickery
    Shaw, Kennedy
    Haskell, Worsley, Croft

    Ellis, Cipriani

    Sackey, Tindall, Tait/Flutey, Strettle (when fit), Armitage

    how many times did you count when england had an overlap and the player went into contact?! I remember three easily, one with Flood, who tries to go into contact too often for a player of his lightweight frame, Tait when he should of passed to Flutey when he made a break through the Wales Line, and Mears, when he should of offloaded to Sackey.

    Dan Carter scores a try every other test, Flood hardly ever scores

    New Zealand play simple rugby, 1st phase, quick ball then 2nd phase they attack. England take too long to get ball out of rucks

  • Comment number 96.

    "england are closer to a grand slam side than they are given credit for."

    Yes, and Brian Moore supported Ireland on Saturday! Thanks, that made my Sunday night.

  • Comment number 97.

    Yes, Englands indiscipline cost them again, but why overlook such backs as Simpson Daniel, Maddock, Olly Barkley, Strettle, Banahan or Shane Geraghty, these guys deserve a go now. Olly Barkley in particular is having a very good season.

  • Comment number 98.

    Quite ludicrous to suggest Care's offence did not warrant a yellow card. Have you seen the replay? Cheap, and stupid, shot.

    As for Moore, he described England at one stage as "inventive". . .

  • Comment number 99.

    I've just read some of the previous 98 posts ( I couldn't bare to read them all) and am overcome by the bitterness out there. Get a grip on your lives, chill out a bit, and be grateful that there are guys out there who are willing to officiate for the benefit of us all. I assume all you moaners are qualified referees?

  • Comment number 100.

    As a former referee I find it totally unacceptable that both Eddie Butler & Brian Moore keep referring to the 'rules' of the game. Moore, in particular, will frequently comment that a player doesn't seem to know the 'rules' of the game. It is abundantly clear that neither commentator is qualified for their role because they should know that there are precisely ZERO rules in Rugby Union - the game is actually governed by the Laws of the Game.

    In some ways this potentially small, but nevertheless significant, semantic difference should be remembered - a rule is defined as 'a principle of regulation governing conduct', a law is defined as 'a principle or regulation governing conduct established by a recognised authority'.

    And Moore, as a qualified solicitor, is unable (unwilling?) to comprehend this significant difference. A rule effectively expects a participant to comply - a law requires them to comply.


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