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Tuilagi makes mark as Stoddart dream ended

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Bryn Palmer | 19:38 UK time, Saturday, 6 August 2011

While the door to the World Cup has cruelly closed already for Wales full-back Morgan Stoddart, England's new star-in-the-making Manu Tuilagi barged it down with trademark force.

Warm-up Tests are always a precarious business, as Stoddart discovered in the most painful manner when his left leg crumpled to the Twickenham turf after an innocuous tackle from Delon Armitage.

While the Scarlets player saw his hopes of heading to New Zealand disappear in that moment, one flash from Tuilagi was enough to show why he could make a name for himself in New Zealand.

Manu Tuilagi celebrating

Debutant Tuilagi celebrates scoring his first England try Photo: Getty

The 20-year-old had impressed sporadically in the first half of his Test debut, making ground with his ball-carrying in attack and performing his defensive duties with the relish you'd expect of a player born in Samoa.

But the manner in which he accelerated onto Jonny Wilkinson's pass three minutes into the second half, barged through two Welsh defenders and held off Stoddart's despairing tackle to score under the posts illustrated the force of nature Martin Johnson has on his hands.

Johnson was measured in his praise afterwards, calling it a "pretty good" debut. But he wouldn't be human if he wasn't inwardly thrilled at the possibilities that a player Wilkinson has already labelled 'the future of the game' can bring to his squad's repertoire.

While tougher tests await, and major World Cup matches are not considered a place for inexperience, the bare minimum the youngster provided was a case for his manager to take stock of his options in the midfield department.

Johnson also mentioned in dispatches Armitage and Matt Stevens, who both probably booked their seats on the plane to New Zealand with solid all-round displays.

But he reserved his warmest praise for Jonny Wilkinson, who showed why his game management - and ability to put points on the board at crucial moments - is still highly valued, whether from the start of a match or in the later stages off the bench.

Johnson refused to be drawn on whether the golden one's man-of-the-match outing had been sufficient to cause him to revise his preference for Toby Flood starting at 10. "Jonny doesn't have to prove to me that he can start a Test, there has never been any doubt about that," he said.

But assuming Flood gets his opportunity in Cardiff next week, it will be intriguing to see who gets the nod for England's final warm-up match in Dublin on 27 August, when Johnson is expected to play as close to the side as possible that he intends to use in their opening Wold Cup match against Argentina on 10 September.

He will also be mightily relieved if the "tweak" to the right knee that forced Lewis Moody out of the action proves to be just that, and nothing more.

Injuries have a habit of taking a little longer to heal than expected in Moody's case, and Johnson - despite asserting he has yet to choose his World Cup captain - will want his experienced flanker back in harness sooner rather than later.

Morgan Stoddart receiving medical attention.

Wales must focus on the positives despite Stoddart's sickening leg break. Photo: Getty

Wales took the glass half-full approach to this defeat, as well they might.
With the obvious exception of Stoddart's desperate misfortune, there was plenty for Warren Gatland and his coaches to be encouraged about.

Considering they were forced into a late change to their side with the withdrawal of Stephen Jones, the match also produced another World Cup contender in Rhys Priestland, who rightly drew praise from Gatland for the composure he showed on his first Test start at fly-half.

As so often down the years, the Welsh looked more likely to score with ball in hand than England, and outscored their hosts three to two. There was a patience and composure about their approach work for all three tries that has not always been apparent.

The benefits of their two intense training camps in Poland were evident in how strongly they finished the game. Physically they competed well, even if England had the upper hand in the set-pieces.

As Sam Warburton, their superb captain who was denied two more scores, put it: "There was plenty of chat coming from our side in the last 20 minutes. England were pretty flat, hanging on. It makes it pretty exciting for the home game."

The two meet again at the Millennium Stadium next Saturday, when both sides will look different.

Wales will hope to give some of their front-line players - Gethin Jenkins, Adam Jones, Lee Byrne, James Hook - some game-time as they work their way back to full fitness. England will probably recall at least half-a-dozen of their Six Nations-winning line-up.
Injuries aside, this was a positive first step on the road to the World Cup for both countries.

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  • Comment number 1.

    Tuilagi has already shown more promise than any of the centres who featured in the 6 Nations - I'm sure he'll be starting by the time the WC kicks off. And it must be a dream come true for him to finally get some game time in that famous black jersey!

  • Comment number 2.

    Flood may have a job holsing onto his place - given his chance to prove himself is at the Millennium stadium - a much more difficult task. I don't think too many people will be that surprised that Manu has announced his arrival onto the international stage in style. What will be interesting is whether his fellow South Pacific centre partner - Rikki Flutey gets another chance after his performance. He has some in-form competition.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yet more hyperbole from a BBC Sport journalist. Tuilagi scored that try well, sure. He had the presence to be there for a regular England move, and he had the acceleration to get through the gap. But that was Wales' mistake. England "always" reverse now. They'd already done it 5 or 6 times by that point, but for some reason the Welsh defence just did not pick it.

    Also, Tuilagi's defence was rubbish. He was hardly ever in the right place and his inside shoulder was weak. He also has a tendency to fly out of position. But we knew all this already, and he was better than nearly all of England's other players. TBH, it was an embarrassing performance, especially for a pack bereft of any breakdown presence. Indeed the only one doing any real work there was Croft, and even he was hesitant. Moody, if he was any other player, would have surely played himself off the plane, while Hartley just did not turn up today.

    The Welsh cannot say they were much better, though, as they were full of comical errors. Only Warburton and Priestland gave them any positives, imo (although Scott Williams did well in an unfamiliar role).

    If either of those teams came up against even an average team, they would lose. They both need drastic changes, Wales in tactics and belief, England in personnel.

  • Comment number 4.

    England/New Zealand & Samoa 23 Wales 19. How sad that a country 10 times the size of Wales, Scotland or Ireland has to resort to playing Kiwis and Samoans masquerading as English in order to win! Even more sad that English rugby schoolboys now know that they will be passed over in favour of an English rugby union that will play overseas players (here on an extended holiday) to make themselves look good......shame on you Martin Johnson, how desperate can you get!

  • Comment number 5.

    This is a warm-up game, nothing more. Players are asked to perform in an International area under intense pressure, because if they do not perform, they are not going to the world cup.

    "If either of those teams came up against even an average team, they would lose."

    Define an average team then. France? They blow hot and cold. Scotland? They have beaten Ireland in a dull affair. Please don't waste our time with such ridiculous comments! These were both teams IN TRANSITION, with both new and inexperienced players, trying to get to New Zealand as part of the 30 best players in their country. There will be mistakes, and there will be good performances. Some will be dropped, some will show their fragilities. And if the players being considered don't actually believe they can win games then they shouldn't be on the plane in the first place. It's as much about mental state as it is form.

  • Comment number 6.

    I thought Tuilagi was a god send. Sure he is not the finished article, but he looks so much more threatening than Tindal and Hape did in the 6N.

    I thought Wilkinson looked top notch and tried so hard, which was made extremely difficult by an absent Flutey outside of him.

    On the whole though, we showed pretty much the same as we ever have throughout the tenure of Smith (backs) and Wells (forwards). So much possession, so little penetration. It is beyond a joke that we are still struggling to solve problems that have dogged the team for 3 - 4 years. Our forwards look lost on the opposition 5m line and conversion rate in the 'red zone' is embarrasing. Out wide, our backs have nothing - Foden and Ashton provided the fire power in the 6N, but without them, we were looking for individual threats.


    I would love Brian Smiths job - 365 days holiday a year and a massive wage.

    My final concerns relate to the inability of the side to adapt to the new rules. We barely turned the ball over in the 6N, and we don't have a fetcher (as Back would call a proper 7) in the side.

    We are just not smart enough.

  • Comment number 7.

    Re: comment 4 (Rick) dont look too hard into nationalities of North or Falutau eh if your heading down that route...

    A solid debut for a couple of players to be fair, sad for Stoddard... I dont like the black kit - I actually grew to like the grey one from last season and sort of wish we'd stuck but im guessing theres money in it.

    I would ask the question how long someone has to spend growing up in a country before being allowed to consider himself that nationality...

    But they you're probably trying to get an argument going because it makes you feel like folk are talking to you.

  • Comment number 8.

    @rick there is only one real foreigner in the England side and that is Flutey (the kiwi you refer to) and there is only one Samoan in the side, and he has played all his rugby IN England, so I think as a rugby player he counts as English. Him aside there were more than 13 others out there that are without a doubt English through and through. That was not a 2 man show. as it has been said 100 times, this is all within the rules and Ireland, Wales and Scotland and who ever else could and would play players in the same position if they could.
    Flutey was below par. Allen or Barrit should be there ahead of him.
    Banahan and Armitage played well. Wilko is asking to be starting and not an impact sub. Haskell is challenging Easter.
    Where was the back row tackles? Wilko put in 12 (the highest from and england shirt), Croft and Moody 7 and 8 respectively. Not good enough. Need to dominate the break down. It seemed to be a tactic to leave men out of the breakdowns to allow more men on the rest of the feild, but we didnt get quick enough ball. Why were forwards picking and going on their own?
    There seems to be a lack of direction, no one really seems to know where we are going or what we are doing? And for some reason we were constantly going up the middle when out wide would have made a nice change!

    That all said, we won. Well done. Not our first choice team, and we held of a Welsh fight back. Good job.

  • Comment number 9.

    Re: No 1) smellslikesalmon - I'm not sure Tuilagi will be starting the big games yet; He was a bit impetuous at times, understandably, and I don't think you can under-estimate Tindall's influence - certainly in the management's eyes - in an otherwise inexperienced backline. But it would certainly be a surprise if Tuilagi didn't make the squad and at least feature against the likes of Romania and Georgia, and maybe on the bench in the bigger games.

    Re: No 2) Hugh Davis and No 6) Tinoflyer. Bit difficult to judge Flutey on that outing. From where I was sitting, seemed Wilko was keen to by-pass him and get Tuilagi into the game at every opportunity. Certainly didn't see Flutey making much ground with ball in hand, but that's not to say he was 'absent'.

    Re: No 3) Tom - Interesting to hear Wales coaches say afterwards they were at fault defensively for both England tries. Shaun Edwards said that because of the late change, Priestland didn't know his role in defence, which is why Haskell's try looked so easy. Gatland said they 'over chased defensively' for the Tuilagi try, though he was confident these were things they could 'fix up' before next week. Fyi James Haskell suggested afterwards that a lack of 'defensive intensity' was because they were still doing heavy fitness training until Tuesday, and were tired going into the game, lacking in freshness. Make of that what you will.

  • Comment number 10.

    "As so often down the years, the Welsh looked more likely to score with ball in hand than England, and outscored their hosts three to two."

    Not only have England scored more tries in the last three Six Nations than Wales, this match was the first time since 2008 that Wales have outscored England.

    Some facts.

  • Comment number 11.

    So we now have unwanted New Zealanders & Pacific Islanders playing for England Rugby (we are even playing embarrassingly in the All Blacks' kit!) and 3rd rate American women running for GB Athletics.
    Have we got NO national talent any more? At least no-one is stupid enough to want to change nationalities to play for England at football!

  • Comment number 12.

    george north is welsh. speaks the language and found himself born in the wrong place somehow and toby was 7 when he came to wales.

    who cares as it should be a reflection of how you feel and not how you qualify. I would be grateful if lots of foreign born players wanted to play for Wales (we need them) but I wonder how many of them would call Wales their home nation.

    back to the match and it is the same with England every game where they look like they could be brilliant if they decide to play with a midfield that matches up and has a ball player. flutey is not that man. also they never seem to balance they back row for some reason. they also did not look fit (yet)

    wales looked fit at the end but lacked cohesion in their forwards (yet). wales cannot afford anymore injuries but I feel that injuries to england players can be dealt with.

    decent display by both sides MoM jonathon davies for me but he did loose his shape for a try. wilkinson did what he does but he too often slowed the ball out to midfield and he kicked back to wales so many times giving possession away, So it goes to Tavis Knoyle for a cameo that showed what scrum halfs should do. stop bench pressing and link the play up!

  • Comment number 13.

    #11 - Almunia and Arteta were close! But Almunia was just a bit too mediocre (even by the standards of Arsene's defensive purchases) and it was discovered that Arteta had already turned out for Spain. But give it time....

  • Comment number 14.

    From my point of view thought it was a good hard game which is a perfect warm up for the WC. If England had run away with it we would have learnt nothing. One comment that was made during commentry was would Tindall have scored the try that Tuilagi would have scored the simple answer is probably no however would England have let in 3 tries if he was playing again probably no. Tuilagi will make the squad and will be a very handy impact player coming on in the last 20 mins if we are chasing the game as his positional work is a work in progress. In reference to his 'weak' shoulder, shoulder is not weak his positional play was the issue. Wilko showed everyone why he should be starting ahead of Flood, he keeps the points ticking over and brings a much calmer feel to the midfield. The game did have a little ring rust about it but it is not about peaking now but gradually getting better and better towards a possible Third World Cup Final, here is to hoping and good luck all thirty guys who make it which ever nationality they are origionally as long as they put on the red rosed shirt and play with pride for England who cares.

  • Comment number 15.

    I would just like rick to clear up his comment about overseas players and their 'extended holidays'. What exactly is that supposed to mean? Yes we have Dylan Hartley born in new zealand, Manu from Samoa and Flutey from New Zealand but these men are passionate about playing rugby and if they are willing to play for England then I say why not. Of course english talent must be nurtured from grass roots all the way to international level. If the All Blacks can pack their team full of pacific Islanders then why cant we or wales have one or two overseas players that are eligible to play for their adopted nations in our sides? Regarding the game, it wasnt a brilliant performance but as Johnson said after, its much better to grind out some results than run away by 60 points and be underprepared for the world cup.

  • Comment number 16.

    They aren't going to set the World Cup alight in NZ, are they?. . but still fair display by both teams, I thought, and possibly take them both in to the quarter finals and no further if they play like that again. Who knows if Johnson threatens his side with fire and brimstone, they'll probably come alive and play like J Lomu used to do.

    But the All Blacks at home take some shifting; in fact, we may as well accept the others are playing for just one place, and will it be?.....SA, AUST, FRA, ARG, ENG, WAL, IRE, SCO etc etc.
    The southern hemisphere nations are well-tuned now and ready to fire. Even the Pacific island teams could upset the plan and send some of our guys home early.

  • Comment number 17.

    Bryn Palmer wrote:

    "Fyi James Haskell suggested afterwards that a lack of 'defensive intensity' was because they were still doing heavy fitness training until Tuesday, and were tired going into the game, lacking in freshness. Make of that what you will."

    This seems quite realistic to me - I don't see a problem with England not being at full fitness now... in fact I might even be a little bit concerned if they were given it is two months to the WC. The aim should be to build up to peak in October.

  • Comment number 18.

    From a Welsh perspective, other than outscoring England and a few players performance (most notably Warburton and Priestland) I was pretty disappointed. What I wanted to see was us giving it a go, using the talents of Roberts and Davies in the centre and cut England in half. Only once or twice did Roberts really run over the gain line full force, but this isnt enough. We need to see him receiving the ball every first phase, pinning the English line backwards. Then maybe giving it to a forward (Faletau would be a great choice, but going on today's performance he would struggle to get on the plane to NZ) before finally giving the ball to Davies to conjure up some magic. Give him quick ball running at the gain line and he will create space.

    One thing that really wound me up was the fact we had Lloyd Williams, a scrum half, as the 23rd man. I know its a rarity that someone will pull out just before the game itself, but with Phillips, Knoyle and Shane Williams all proven scrum half's why didnt we take any other back? Thinking about it, Byrne, Hook and Halfpenny were all injured, but what about Henson? Brew even? Or to be quite frank, bringing me to another topic, why dont we have Biggar? He may not be first choice, he'll probably be 4th in fact, but moments like today he would've come in very handy. The Ospreys chose him over Hook all season, and he gave quite a few good performances and always seemed to put points on the board, and yet the Welsh coaches seem to overlook him every time.

  • Comment number 19.

    I have watched the All Blacks with two very much changed sides play South Africa and Australia in the last 7 days, and frankly England and Wales will be merely making up the numbers for the World Cup.

    They cannot possibly improve sufficiently to even give the All Blacks a decent game.

    We must accept that England are not as good as we keep making out and I doubt they could beat the All Blacks third squad

  • Comment number 20.

    #4 Rick can you explain to me why people like you go on and on about the make up of England teams with people who were not born in this country when the Aussies and NZ team have been poaching players from their Pacific neighbours for a long time and no-one mentions that. Lest we forget Lomu even the flying winger Roko, etc. Manu has been here since he was 12 I think and has qualified to play for England. If the English schoolboys are good enough they will make the grade.

  • Comment number 21.

    To be honest, I'm a bit sick of people moaning about the origins of some players. If you qualify, then you qualify. That's the rules. Move on, folks, it isn't an episode of "Love Thy Neighbours"!

    I thought Tuilagi did have a good game, but like others, positional play needs to improve in defence. I thought Flutey needed to impress more. I thought Wilkinson did impress. I thought Armitage displayed some of the form that he showed on his international debut. He was solid in defence, both covering and under the high ball. In attack he looked really quick. It'd be good to see him with Ashton both in form. I think Cueto needs to pull out a performance. In the scrum, the back row could have been more visible, but did okay. Haskell deserves a mention in despatches. Easter does a lot of more unseen work securing possession though, as well as having the occasional charge. The front row did the business in the set piece but need to be more visible around the park. And what about Shaw? He certainly didn't do any harm to his chances of getting a flight to NZ.

    As you may have guessed, I'm an England fan, but as regards Wales, I thought that they could have won that game, they showed in many positions they're good, or better and have players to come back. Not the strongest team from either camp, but food for thought for both. A much more interesting game than the one at Murrayfield, notable only for Scotland scoring a try, bless them.

    It'll be interesting next weekend!

  • Comment number 22.

    A team of foriegners mascarading as an English national team.......joke!

    Any victory by a team of over 50% foreign born players is no victory in my eyes.

    Those who want to win without principles will no doubt disagree with me........they're wrong.

  • Comment number 23.

    Both teams played with experminental combinations, so ic ant understand comments like "they will just make the numbers up at the WC." Anyone who has watched the last few world cups knows that sides that have been written off can cause major upsets. Its a little early to say Eng or Wales wont be able to compete with the southern hemisphere sides.

    I thought wales had some fantastic runs with ball in hand. As an English fan I would love to see more of this from our boys. When we have our strongest backs playing im sure we will be able to cause any side defensve problems. Our forwards dominated the scrum and it looks a solid area of our game. I just hope we can sort the break down out so we can get quick ball out. Cant wait for next week, im sure it will be a cracker!

  • Comment number 24.

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

  • Comment number 25.

    Dunno whether what Haskell said was true, but I must admit that England looked either very tired or seriously unfit. The last 20 they appeard to be running through syrup.

    Wilkinson was good, yes, but… it cannot be mere coincidence that England reverted to what most observers would describe as ‘the English way’ of playing for the first time since JW last started a match. Tuilagi does look exciting but we will surely only see what he’s capable of when he plays with Flood. England’s game was 60% slower than it has been for the last 18 months and while Youngs & Flood have come in for plenty of criticism lately, their absence was felt yesterday.

    A few other points.

    Delon was England’s best player yesterday. Nice to have him back.

    Hartley didn’t have a great game but as soon as he was replaced, showed why he is indisputably England’s number one. Mears was hopeless.

    Wales played their usual game: territory by inches, windscreen-wiper style. Efficient against a poor side (which England were yesterday) but too predictable to trouble a good team.

  • Comment number 26.

    looking at yesterday through welsh eyes, england totally dominated up front but lets not forget we were missing adam jones matthew rees and gethin jenkins the british lions front row and behind the scrum the average age was 21 with about as many caps. Both teams have players to come back in i just feel where Wales failed yesterday they have players to come in who will improve the poor area. It will be a great game next week if both teams improve there line ups.
    one more thing i know Tuilagi scoreda good try but he is poor defensivley, be intresting if James hook lines up aginst him on Saturday!

  • Comment number 27.

    2 trial teams and England scrape a win...Wales making the same basic errors in defence and England lacking in flair. nothing changes. Wilkinson save England yet again. After watching the All Blacks and Australia earlier in the day you realise how far behind the southern hemisphere we currently are. Pace, skill, flair true 15 man rugby, difficult to differentiate between backs and forwards sometimes.

  • Comment number 28.

    So the usual ignorant nonsense continues to be said about Tuilagi. He is not a foreign import similar to Flutey or Waldrom. He has been living in Leicestershire since the age of 11. The whole of his secondary education was in the UK. At what point does an 'imigrant' get accepted? Is he only allowed to play for England if he has an unbroken line of descendents all conceived and born in the UK dating back to before 1066? England is his home.

    And btw (unlike big brother Alesana who is superb in attack but pants in defence), he can tackle!

  • Comment number 29.

    Sorry - should be 'ancestors' not 'descendents'!

  • Comment number 30.

    at least tuilagi did better on his debut than the other import lesley vinokolo dont know spelling was he a kiwi or somoan? anyway it's part and parcel of rugby new zealand have done it for years england just get the one's they dont want

  • Comment number 31.

    Agree with a lot of the posts here on the game, whilst England have a plethora of back row forwards we don't have specialists at the break down to turn over ball regularly (think of Pocock for the aussies, McCaw for the kiwis). Defensively we got caught out & out wide we can't afford to give top sides that amount of space, let's hope they were ring rusty & going forward we have to be able to unlock defences in the opposition 22 - we looked way short of creativity without Ashton & are too reliant on him + Foden.

    To be honest the final should be between the Kiwis & Oz, the kiwis are far & away the best side by a mile, the Aussies are a top side & after that the Saffas is their whole 15 puts in their best show & they sort out their fly-half (Morne Steyn - great goal kicker but the least creative Fly-half in the world) have an outside chance but if we played NZ we'd get buried, even their forwards side step defenders!

  • Comment number 32.

    Re. where you were born, its a good job you can qualify on residency grounds. 11 of the 35 man squad were born outside England, including yesterdays entire front row. But good luck to them all!

  • Comment number 33.

    bradders...why do you think they changed the rules :-) rugby union is just moving to the american football model, players wearing impact vests, endless subs, do the powers that be really think this makes it more exciting. Front row tired, no problem, take them off and put on a new one...its pathetic, if they cant play 80 minutes they shouldn't be out there

  • Comment number 34.

    Sure that Tuillagi is more attacking than Mike Tindall but without Tindall against Ireland our defence went to shreds. Tins is the best defensive line organiser in the game and dropping him for some hot headed 20 year old would be a huge mistake!

  • Comment number 35.

    Overall that was a dire England performance. One of the few positives was a good work out for the defence, even though it was breached for 3 tries. We still lack the skill of instinct and rely on training ground moves that grind to a halt. It's turgid and painful to watch. When we cut loose and play open rugby, we have the talent to cut through defensive lines. WHy don't we do it more often?

    Yet again England played ponderously slow and Danny Care just doesn't cut it. The ball has to be distributed quicker. Wales were far more dynamic.

    A few good performances though to take heart from. Tuilagi was good, Wilko solid and intelligent, Armitage getting back to his best. I thought Shaw was solid as usual. Also great to Stevens back, just keep him away from the white lines....

    Still, playing like this we're not a patch on NZ and we'll need a dramatic improvement in the next warm up match.

  • Comment number 36.

    Not interested in kit colours or where you are born. If you've signed up for a country to play at international level (within the rules) then that's where you play out your career.

    The ENG v WAL game was better than I expected, and look forward to the return match. The young lads who came in did well. I can understand the focus by the media on young Tuilagi, but you have to take your hat off to G North, 5 tries from 6 games and come back from an injury, well done. Priestland, Knoyle, Scott Williams deserve a mention, Faletau will improve and look forward to seeing if Tuperic will get a run out, but that depends on whether S Warburton will be rested for the ARG game perhaps.

    Talking about S Warburton makes me realise the potential in the Welsh team, with young men now seen as established players in the starting XV. B Davies, D Lydiate, J Davies places look to be booked for the RWC11.

    There were disappointments, M Phillips and H Bennett in their respective positions are below par, and there is a lot of negative feeling towards them in the public. With two games left before RWC11 it's a difficult call for W Gatland, H Bennett should play in the hope of M Rees getting back to fitness, but I think it's time to try someone else out at 9 before they get on the plane to NZ. When T Knoyle came on he was more unpredictable and offered a more attacking threat.

    R Jones gets a lot of stick, but proved his worth when he came on yesterday, nevertheless I would like to see G Delve get the 8 shirt next week against ENG, because out of all the freindlies I feel the ARG game is going to be the most difficult to call, especially how WAL are going to go the game. A home tie against stubborn opposition like ARG could un-pick the mentality of WAL, who if things don't go right for them could revert to throwing the ball around in frustration, which in the build up to the strong opposition WAL face in the RWC could bring back the mishaps seen in previous RWC, and the recent loss against the Barbarians.

    I would take a close loss (5-9 points) against ENG next week as long as it was followed by a tactical, clinical and thoughtful victory against ARG, no matter how boring attrition rugby might look to the spectator, (I personally love tight forward battles, and find it entertaining in an intense way) if any team has learn how to play ugly to get results it has to be WAL, because come September in the SH it's going to be a hard slog to get out of that group.

    Whereas the players did themselves justice, I am completely baffled by the performance of ref S Walsh again. There was a period in the game where blatent knock ons by both teams went unpunished, and marginal ones including forward passes were pinged. Although they were not as costly as the knock on for the Sivivatu try in the NZ v AUS they do become frustrating.

    Predicted Wales RWC11 1st XV:

    L Byrne, G North, J Davies, J Roberts, S Williams, J Hook/R Preistland, T Koyle.

    G Jenkins, M Rees, A Jones, B Davies, A W Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton, G Delve.

    Rep. P James, R Hibbard, R Jones, J Tipuric/T Faletau, M Phillips, S Jones, A Brew

  • Comment number 37.

    A win is a win but with the WC looming,the same old lack of continuity ,caused by inadequate basic skills is more than a little worrying.Good to see Jonny and Simon in form,Manu confirming expectations,Delon returning and James causing a stir....but the rest were off the pace.Comparison with the Tri game was a little frightening.

  • Comment number 38.

    Please help! I need another two "non-English-born" players to complete my Wold Cup team:

    Forwards: Mouritz Botha Alex Corbisiero Hendre Fourie Dylan Hartley
    Matt Stevens Dan Ward-Smith Thomas Waldrom

    Backs: Riki Flutey Shontayne Hape Joe Simpson Manusamoa Tuilagi
    Lesley Vainikolo Matt Banahan

  • Comment number 39.

    I live in NZ and I can tell you Lesley Vainakolo and Jonah Lomu were born in NZ and I even went to the same Primary school and lived near Jonah Lomu in Auckland. Also had David Tua lived near me. All the Pacific Islanders live in NZ from birth and not many are poached if any. Definately no poaching is happening now. We have over 200,000 P.I's living here so you might have to correct what you are saying about NZ poaching. Oz also have many born there but they do get alot of NZ Pacific Islanders immigrating there at school age.

  • Comment number 40.

    The 2 "Monty" mentioned went to the same school in Auckland. Was funny years ago in NZ Schools Sevens Rugby when you had Lomu playing, took 3-4 players to tackle him and you see why his school was the best in NZ

  • Comment number 41.

    When England win the World Cup this year will the eminent writer Stephen Jones pour scorn on England for playing imports? Players born and living all their lives in New Zealand with Pacific Island heritage playing for the All Blacks have been anathema to him. He has been disparaging about this for years.
    Now that the boot is on the other foot is he going to be as critical and condemnatory?

  • Comment number 42.

    Can't believe all the negativity. The first outing all season, 2 experimental sides and they are both being written off, particularly England. No change there then.
    "far behind the Southern Hemisphere teams"? Behind maybe, but far behind, no. Some recent results and certainly the last 2 World Cups show that when the pressure is really on, the form book can fly into touch.
    Oh and this residency thing, please give it a rest, it's boring. Rules are rules and none are being broken (remember Shane Howarth/Wales) and if a player chooses to play for his adopted country rather than the one where he just happened to be born, through no fault of his own, where is the problem? As some of you have posted, some countries have been doing this for years.
    Finally NZ, huge favourites but we've seen this before, haven't we?

  • Comment number 43.

    "the Aussies and NZ team have been poaching players from their Pacific neighbours for a long time"

    I can explain. It is largely a myth created by the British press and actively supported by the rugby public here because I suspect they find it so hard to beat us on the rugby paddock. There are only 4 players of Pacific Island descent who have played for the All Balcks who did not go to school in NZ and 3 of those were playing their rugby in NZ before the professional era (Schuster, Vidiri and Iremia). There are only 8 players who have played for the ABs who were from the Islands who came to NZ post puberty (which of course includes the 4 mentioned above). Only two of those have played any significant rugby for the ABs (Masoe and Sivivatu). The remaining players born in the Islands who have had AB caps (22 going back to Walter Batty in 1927 and the two Soloman brothers in the 1930s) came to NZ as the children of immigrants. Note they do not include Tana Umaga, Jonah Lomu, Micheal Jones, Frank Bunce and many other great names who were born in NZ. I should also point out that the Samoan side that beat Australia recently contained 12 NZ born players and a further 5 who immigrated to NZ as children with their families (e.g Mapasua wo came to NZ when he was 4 years old)

  • Comment number 44.

    Lesley Vainakolo was not born in NZ but lived there from the age of 6. I understand his parents were born in NZ.

    Monty for your information Rocokoko came to NZ when he was 4 years old

  • Comment number 45.

    I think it'e easy to be critical of these blogs because often they are simply opinion and everyone is entitled to theirs.

    Despite that, I think it was pretty on the money. England might have won the game but with the exception of the Stoddart injury, I wonder if Wales might have come out with more positives.

    Manu looked decent, (if not spectacular), and I was watching pretty hard for any weaknesses in defence and I honest can't say I saw anything that worried me. I would say that he coped pretty well with two tough opponents. In particular the first carry of any real intent by Roberts was dealt with comfortably and allowed him to ease into the game after that. His trie was decent too, but owed more to the Welsh defence being drawn to Jonny dancing off both feet and drawing defenders too him. I thought Jonny was pretty impressive throughout if I'm honest, (and I thought his day had well and truly gone).

    I was less impressed with the England back-row. Don't get me wrong, they weren't poor, they were just not... good I suppose. Moody flew about the pitch with real intent, but just as either Stoddardt or North easily stepped him early on, (it was a pretty naive attempt flying up that quickly), and I thought stand in stand-off Priestland was possibly the star of the show, (but for Jonnys directing of traffic and kicking of goals).

    I think Englands defence looked poor out wide, (as evidenced by the 3 tries), and maybe there is an issue there with communication where either Manu or Flutey are at fault. Not for not defending but simply for not communication well enough that the gaps outside needed to be filled. I look at Bannahan and Manu and Armitage and to be honest they don't appear the most clued up of individuals, (although Armitage looked good when given space yesterday). The thing is, when it comes to the crunch against good teams you have to perform under pressure without space.

    England are more likely to be more effective at the world Cup, and Wales will benefit from a returning front 3, but there would seem to be a little missing from both sides. Roberts needs a foil for his power and England... well they did enough to win, but take away 2 Jonny drops and suddenly things look a little different.

    By biggest criticism of anyone, (and no I was not a scrum-half), is why is Phillips not able to pass off his wrists like every other decent #9? I know he likes to carry the ball, (and is good at it), but even when he has no intention of carrying and wants to release quick ball, he passes with his arms and not his wrists. He seemed to just slow things down the whole time, (and it's not his pass that I mean, but a phase almost before the pass. Preparation to pass if you like). When he picks the ball each time, he moves the ball backwards to then pass forwards rather than a flicked wristy pass or even a sweeping fluid motion pass that he should be able to make if in the correct position. I like Phillips, but every time I watch him his issue with wanting to hold the ball and then pass seems to be even more obvious. I appreciate that I have never played this standard of rugby, but I just don't get it.

    I think if I was Jonno I would also be starting with Flood at the WC, (unless Cardiff shows me something I don't know), but whoever plays needs to stand flatter and try and launch those outside him. In the past Jonny has had the likes of Greenwood who was intelligent enough to give him options that I think those available do not see.

  • Comment number 46.

    It is not only poor old Stephen Jones (who for sometime has known the reality of the situation) Rees in the Guardian, Eddie Butler, Gallagher in the Telegraph, Hewitt in the Independent, Barnes in the Times and many others have repeated the refrain. Call it lazy journalism or perhaps never letting the facts get in the way of a good story.

  • Comment number 47.

    To 5 - I mean that those lineups would have lost to EVERY other tier 1 nation. England could not defend in the backs, and only Welsh ineptitude (that was ridiculous Roberts tackling Williams) prevented a loss. But the backs weren't the major problem, it was the forwards.

    James Haskell made 12 meters. Every other member of the pack made 5 between them (2 for Hartley, 3 for Shaw). That is nowhere near good enough. Hartley, Corbisiero, Palmer and Moody did not show up, and Haskell inevitably went missing after the first 20. It's embarrasing that Lee Mears made more meters (9) than the rest of the England pack together despite only being on the pitch 23 minutes.

  • Comment number 48.

    Thanks FallingTp! You from NZ? Rossignol, I agree with you. Who cares where they come from as many sports have athletes from other parts of the world that are winning championships.
    But it is not easy to gauge yet as most teams are still trying out new combos and yet to get their final" number 1" team. I think NZ and Oz won't make too many changes. But looks like a possible Semi England vs Australia and good luck to your team:-)

  • Comment number 49.

    @ FallingTP #44

    Four years old? That's no help!

    Corbisiero came to England when he was 3. But that doesn't stop the tedious trolls going on and on and on and on and on about it.

    Shaw was born abroad to English parents, and then schooled abroad in British schools. As far as I'm aware, he has no nationality other than English. But that doesn't stop the tedious trolls going on and on and on and on and on and on about it.

    I think Armitage was about 6. Hartley moved here as a teen with his English mother. Does that stop the tedious trolls going on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on and on about it?

    If you move to a country when you are four years old you are, apparently, a foreigner. A second rate citizen. And therefore ineligible to play for the national team. That's actually quite sickening, really.

    Did anyone else notice how when Tuilagi was being interviewed, he sounded quite a lot like a bloke from Leicester?

  • Comment number 50.

    I think in NZ if you live here for 3 years and have not competed for a different country, you are eligible to represent NZ. Don't know about every where else

  • Comment number 51.

    "Corbisiero came to England when he was 3. But that doesn't stop the tedious trolls going on and on and on and on and on about it."

    Ype it's a nonsense but to a certain extent the English have set themselves up for it after years of criticising NZ and OZ (wrongly) I remember a column written by Alistair Campbell after the ABs lost to France 4 years ago in which he revelled in NZ loss and hinted at it being a just result for years of sins committed in nthe name of rugby including stealing players from the Islands. I ask you!

  • Comment number 52.

    Its amusing to note the above comments that would like to sweep the "poaching" accusations under the carpet or move on. Well NZers have endured more than a decade of comment and articles; ranging from the fatuous and inaccurate to the deliberately insulting and toxic. Just check Stephen Jones's many columns on the topic. So I guess if you cant take it dont give it out in the first place.

    I also note confusion still reigns on what is poaching? For example, Monty uses Lomu as an example of poaching - Jonah was born and raised in Auckland and only wanted to play for one team - the MIB. "Tank" Waldrom, though, was only recently playing his heart out in the S14 to make the All Blacks.

    He is an excellent player and I hope he makes the World Cup squad as will over, maybe, 100 born and bred Kiwis playing for teams other than NZ. Plus the overseas coaches! Good luck to them all!

    As for the alternative strip - I take it as compliment from Martin Johnson - who played proudly in black as a Junior All Black. And it does give those NZ born English (Hartely, Flutey etc) a chance to achieve their real ambition - to play in Black.

  • Comment number 53.

    Rusty performance from England which is understandable.

    Danny Care is far to slow at getting ball away from the rusk. Absent players showed their worth in Youngs, Ashton and Foden.
    Cueto needs a performance would be good to see Sharples given a go, he looked sharp when he came on, or maybe Delon Armitage on the wing who had a good game.
    Great try saving tackle by Tom Wood, should be at 7 with Croft and Easter in back row. Moody too much of an injury risk. Lawes&Palmer 2nd row.
    Still not convinced on midfield partnership.

  • Comment number 54.

    For those getting excited about nationalities, perhaps they should stop and take a look at England as a whole - it is an entirely cosmopolitan Country. England offers opportunities that others can't get elsewhere. The England team is reflective of the Country.

    All the Tuilagi brothers have ventured to England's shores at some point - in fact they have probably got a lot more out of England than they ever did at Samoa - and Samoa has improved as a result.

  • Comment number 55.

    "I remember a column written by Alistair Campbell after the ABs lost to France 4 years ago"

    This is a moderated forum, so I can't give you my opinion of Alistair Campbell.

    The tedious journos I can almost forgive though. At least they're doing it for the money. The tedious trolls do it purely out of spite.

  • Comment number 56.

    I have to admit I think the fact that Manu is about as english as the eiffel tower has made people hype his debut up far to much both before and after the game, or maybe its the fact that it is now very rare for someone so young to be capped by england.

    George North had played far less rugby when he was capped vs SA and scored two tries on debut, he scored two more yesterday and is younger then Manu-Wales out of boldness or necessity cap young.

    As another point if Gav does make a comeback (doubtful I know), how about keeping jamie at 15? he played all his age group rugby there as well as starting out there for the blues. Also I like the ide of the gav of 05 and 08 using those soft hands to put Jamie through gaps at full tilt,

  • Comment number 57.

    And as for 47 Tom - I completely agree that our Forwards are still playing like it is the 1980s. But, none of them play like that for the Club sides. Croft is regularly make massive meters, as is Haskell - Johnson even said some of the props are called into the team because of what they off in the loose.

    Yet throughout the last few years, our forwards cannot take a ball on the run, get completely lost 5m from the opposition line and end up in a right flap. It's difficult to see any organisation or structure. The backs lack creativity to, but at least they are presented with ball to play with - however, I don't remember any backs moves being run.

    In broken play, when the players are left to think for themselves we are perhaps the most dangerous team in the World - against Australia last year for example. However, when the game is structured and we rely on the England coaches to set the gameplan, we are frankly abject - see the South Africa game last autumn.

  • Comment number 58.

    @ first five

    So that gives people the excuse to continue being deliberately insulting and toxic? Honestly, the day you start taking your lead from Stephen Jones or Alistair Campbell is a pretty sad day in your development as a human being.

  • Comment number 59.

    Some people just love to whinge and whine don't they. Jeez, you sound like my two small children when their favourite toy's been taken away. Do none of you whiners remember the last World Cup? England found their form during the tournament and made the final. They were a TMO decision away from winning (not that they deserved to beat a very powerful SA team).

    Yesterday a second string England beat a first/second string Welsh team. Let's remember these are warm-up games. I'm sure most players are just trying not to get injured so they can actually get to NZ - see Stoddart, that and the intense fitness training leads to a lack of intensity on the pitch. Johnson knows how to win a WC, so have some faith.

    Of yesterdays team I can only see 3 or 4 England players that are likely to start the first WC game - Hartley, Palmer, Croft and maybe Cueto. Missing from the starting line-up yesterday were Sheridan, Cole, Lawes, Easter, Wood, Youngs, Flood, Hape, Tindall, Ashton and Foden. I'd say there's decent back-up in every position. Tuilagi is a game-breaker, Banahan a handful on the wing. Armitage looked good with ball in hand. Wilko's reliable and took the points when they were needed. Haskell is pushing Easter for a starting position.

    Make no mistake NZ are massive favourites, as they are going in to every WC, but this time home advantage will see them win it quite easily. As a realistic England fan I'd be aiming for semi-final, maybe final. But as past WCs have shown more or less anyone can have a good or a bad day and surpass/fail to meet expectations.

  • Comment number 60.

    @Plugmonkey - I dont think it is me taking a lead from Stephen Jones - far from it! Merely pointing to the hypocrisy that was has been so rife in award winning writer's columns and often - what goes around, comes around. You need to live with that.

    Besides I have been generous in my comments, like the others here, in saying we dont mind these guys being "poached" - better matches / better players to watch.

  • Comment number 61.

    I can remember when we used toi to take the mickey out of the Irish football team for signing any player with the remost connection to Ireland. Like owning an Irish wolfhound or drinking Guinness! Now English & British sport are the worst in the world for signing mercenaries. Manu Tuilagi. Real old English name that is!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    @ simonhill77 - its a one off tournament so anything can happen.

    I was speaking to some French supporters before the 1/4 final in Cardiff 07 and they reckoned they didnt have a show! Yeah right.

  • Comment number 63.

    I think this Nationality debate that is going on at the moment is ridiculous and it is simply an attempt by others to unsettle certain camps.

    Kiwi's can't exactly talk can they.

    John Gallagher was born in England.
    Jo Rokocoko was born in Fiji.
    Mils Muliaina was born in Samoa.
    Siviatu was born in Fiji.
    Michael Jones played for Western Samoa before playing for NZ.
    Andrew Mehrtens was born in South Africa.

    They are just the ones I know about without actually having to go looking for info.

    It's exactly the same for the Aussies.

    George Gregan was born in Zambia.
    Stephen Moore was born in the Middle East somewhere.
    Pekahau Cowan was born in NZ.
    Sitaleki Timanu was born in Tonga.
    Dan Vickerman was born in South Africa.
    David Pocock was born in South Africa.
    Radike Samo was born in Fiji.
    Will Genia was born in PNG.
    Quade Cooper was born in NZ.
    Digby Ioane was born in NZ.
    Kefu was born in Tonga.

    Everyone is exactly the same.

    I can go through every single nation like this.

    Tony Copsey.
    Simon Goeghegan.
    Jim Staples.
    Brendan Mullin.
    Ronan O'Gara
    Simon Easterby.

    It's either against the rules or it is not against the rules.

    Everyone has done it in the past and everyone is continuing to do it now.

    Blomin hell. Wasn't there almost a diplomatic incident over Willie O at some point in the dim and distant past. He was born in Tonga but went to school in NZ, but after a tour to Aus he was refused entry back into NZ and had to move to Aus so he represented them.


    And who is it doing all this complaining?

    The whole thing is a joke if you aks me but until one Nation acts differently nobody is in a position t make a fuss.

  • Comment number 64.

    George North isnt Welsh he was born in England. So the Wales has its share of foreigners aswell.

  • Comment number 65.

    @Liam -there have been many funny signings - like the NZ born fullback who was selected for Wales on a false hope his grannie was Welsh. When found out he said he "felt Welsh"

    How many Kenyans were runnning in the Olympics and check out the table tennis teams - every country has a Wong / Li / Zhang competing.

    It has become a bit of a joke really.

  • Comment number 66.

    Oh don't even get me started on Wales.

    Tont Copsey.
    Colin Charvis.
    Rupert Moon
    Who was the Islander who played in the 1st half yesterday?

    It's not just one Nation that is doing this or one that isn't.

    Everyone is at it so there is just no point anyone moaning.

  • Comment number 67.

    Until very recently - the ones doing all the complaining have been the UK, especially the press. Now its "lets not discuss it" - wonder why? Thats the gripe. I said a decade ago that until England get a Fijian or Samoan winger the complaining will continue.

    FYI - from the list you gave

    John Gallagher was born in England.
    Yes poached - qualified under residential - 3 years I think
    Jo Rokocoko was born in Fiji.-
    In NZ a 3 yo
    Mils Muliaina was born in Samoa.
    In NZ as 4 yo
    Siviatu was born in Fiji.
    To NZ for secondary school - stayed
    Michael Jones played for Western Samoa before playing for NZ.
    Strange one this - NZ born - strong Samoan connection and not sure why he played for Samoa first - like Frank Bunce. Cant do this anymore
    Andrew Mehrtens was born in South Africa.
    NZ parents working in Sth Africa

    Every individual is different - hard to make one rule for everyone.

    Should Mehrtens only play for SA or Bunce NZ?

  • Comment number 68.

    I think the guy who started the foreign born players debate has been missunderstood. All he was trying to say was that a nation the size and with the player resources of england shouldnt have the need to select foreign born players.

    Anyway, my take on the game was Wales finally have found a bit of a clinical edge to their phase game, how many times have i seen them camped on the oposition line and not come away with the points and the english kit man is on the phone ordering half a dozen #10 shirts in Jonny Wilkinsons size.

    I cant help thinking that by now the coaches should know their 1st teams. Why on earth are they going to pick 2 totally different sides next week. Surely it would be better to keep playing your srongest team and get some consistency and some real match fitness for the first 15. If the often used line of 'We want to take a look at some of the guys' is true then what have they been doing for the last 4 years??.

    ANd on that point, glad to see the WRU are going to reform the Welsh A team and I just hope that with Stoddards injury gatland doesnt decide that henson is the ideal replacement.

  • Comment number 69.

    Talk of nationalities just gets in the way of other more interesting topics. The fact is, it's in the rules so why discuss it?

    The world is a very open place, people are no longer bound to one nation because of birth. That is a good thing. The idea that a player should only represent the Country they are born is, stems from ideas that went out of fashion in the 1800s. Prince Obolensky didn't even get the hard time Hartley gets and he made his name in 1936!

    It's appalling to think that although the world has become more open, that minds on the subject have become more closed.

    The rules effectively mean that if someone has benefited from a place of residence, or given sufficiently back to that Country they have every right to play for them. By rights, you could argue that Waldrom benefited from an English grandmother - without her, he would never have been born. It should also be noted that the New Zealand Prime Minister's dad is British - the world is freely accessible, in fact, New Zealand would not have a rugby team now if it had not been for the British migrants from many years ago.

    If you want to debate anything, debate the rules - should someone be in a country for 5years, should it be immediate heritage that counts before entitlement to represent at international level.

    Discussing the merits of Hartey or Flutey and co is pointless.

    Discussing whether or Flutey should ever pull on an England 12 shirt again - well, having had a nightmare in France, a rather subdued return to England, he is being selected on 2009 form. Martin Johnson is wrong on this one. He should not be in the squad.

  • Comment number 70.

    "39.At 09:45 7th Aug 2011, Richjamie wrote:

    I live in NZ and I can tell you Lesley Vainakolo and Jonah Lomu were born in NZ and I even went to the same Primary school and lived near Jonah Lomu in Auckland. Also had David Tua lived near me. All the Pacific Islanders live in NZ from birth and not many are poached if any. Definately no poaching is happening now. We have over 200,000 P.I's living here so you might have to correct what you are saying about NZ poaching. Oz also have many born there but they do get alot of NZ Pacific Islanders immigrating there at school age."


    I hate to have to point out the obvious but.....

    Ben Franks was born in Australia.
    Jerome Kaino was born in Samoa.
    Sitiveni Sivivatu was born in Fiji. (Just for the record he did not move to NZ until he was 17 years old).
    Isaia Toeava was born in Samoa.
    Mils Muliaina was born in Samoa.

    Why do you think that you, (NZ), are different from everyone else?

    It is either within the rules or it is not within the rules.

  • Comment number 71.

    Nice one Tinoflyer, a very good point.

  • Comment number 72.

    @ firstfive

    Well my personal opinion is that the rules are wrong and "residency" should not be allowed. You might accuse me of just saying that but it is how I feel noe and is how I have always felt.

    I was born to Scots and Irish parents and was born in England so the way I see it I should be able to play for either, England, (the land of my birts), Scotland, (the land of my Mothers birth), or Ireland, (the land of my Fathers birst). I don't care if I live in Wales, (or anywhere lese for that matter), for 100+ years then I should not be able to represent that nation.

    Unfortunately the rules/laws do not agree with me.

    This isn't a recent thing. It has been going on for... well as long as I can remember.

    Just so you know I am not defending England, I can remember it being an issue when Adedayo Adebayo, Steve Ojomoh and Victor Ubogo all played for England years ago. Then the Copsey thing was ridiculous for Wales. The Willie O thing for both Aus and NZ.

    Noriega played for both Argentina and then Australia.

    My point isn't that one Nation is correct and the others are all wrong.

    My point is that they all do it.

    Until the rules are changed we need to just get on with it.

    It has happened certainly for as long as I have been watching rugby and is unlikely to change in my opinion.

    To suggest that one Nation is not acting the same way is just disingenuious and that is my point.

  • Comment number 73.

    Thanks for all your comments. Keep them coming. To answer some of then...

    Re: No 10) Steve - my point was that England, despite enjoying the majority of the territory and possession until the final quarter, failed to create that many chances. Wales, when they kept hold of the ball and put England under pressure, looked like they knew how to both create and finish chances. I stand by my assertion that there's nothing new in that. England have traditionally found different ways of winning matches ie forward power, set-piece expertise, a world-class goalkicker etc. Nothing wrong in that. The exciting thing is that they now have backs (Foden, Ashton, Youngs etc who give them the chance to play a more expansive game).

    Re: no 16) matt-stone, 19) Peter Tucker, 35) james gurd and others. I wouldn't be too quick to write off either side's World Cup prospects on the basis of yesterday. Remember it was their first pre-season game effectively, after a mountain of fitness training. Comparisons with what we are seeing in the Tri-Nations are not valid at this stage of the home unions' preparations. It takes a while to get those rugby instincts back. The aim is to improve over the coming weeks and be in prime shape for those crucial RWC pool matches in Sept, not in the first week of August.

    Re no 17) El Snoopio - sorry, didn't intend to cast doubt on the validity of what Haskell was saying. Made sense to me. You can't expect them to produce the level of intensity that they'll need in NZ in the first game of pre-season.

    Re: no 23) rugbychatter and no 42) rossignol - Couldn't agree more. Thought it was a pretty decent game in the context of the time of year. We shouldn't be judging what we saw in the same light as an autumn Test or Six Nations match.

    Re: no 26) Andy. Agree. When you consider the players Wales stil have to bring in - a front row of Jenkins, Rees (if he gets fit) and A Jones, backs of the calibre of Hook, Byrne, Halfpenny - then you see why they could view yesterday in such a positive light.

    Re: no 45) Jimbokav1971. Lots of great points. Share your concerns about Phillips. To have any chance of competing with the top sides, Wales have to play with a high tempo, and at the moment Phillips often has the opposite effect of slowing things down. He obviously offers different attributes, but speed of pass is not one of them. Difficult decisions at scrum-half for the Welsh management in terms of who goes to the RWC.

  • Comment number 74.

    I think it's ridiculous, too, and agree with #72, residency should not make a difference when international selection comes into it. The Scotland team has got not one player, and I do not believe has ever had a player, who was born outside Scotland, had no maternal or paternal link to Scotland and yet got in on residency grounds.

  • Comment number 75.

    Jonny managed the game well I thought (especially considering the service he had) and Tuilagi looked exciting in attack if not suspect in defence. Flutey was quiet but ultimately the problems (i.e looking turgid in more or less every attack) in the backs for me are a direct product of Danny Care. He may be quick and he kicks from hand well but ultimately the slowness of delivery is a huge hindrance. A top class 9 should not be collecting the ball from ruck/maul and then take 2 or 3 sideways steps before deciding where to pass - it gives defences time to align themselves.

    In the pack I thought we were ok but nothing more. Croft is a stand out for the work he puts in around the park and Shaw did all the basics to a high standard. Moody's cavalier tackling approach while occasionally spectacular is never going to be good enough to smash top class backs who can step off of either foot. Haskell got his try but didn't stamp the authority on the game in the way you'd hope someone making a big claim to start at 8 would. Generally quite lethargic at the break down as a whole (the forwards, not just Haskell) particularly towards the end.

    Hoping for a big improvement next week.

  • Comment number 76.

    Was I just watching The All Blacks V Wales yesterday ? NO I certainly was not ! Maybe when England have imported enough A.Bs to their country they will be able to justify wearing the black jersey. Could somebody give any good reason why they should have gone down this route of departing from the traditional white. My wife even remarked that she thought the black jerseys made the English players look much smaller than the Welsh. I was also quite disappointed that England resorted to relying on the boot of J.W. As a development friendly - this was a great opportunity to try out back moves, cross gain lines and see how the lineout operates. Maybe if you want to win Finals in the last minute of a World Cup - the drop kick is a great option However I can’t see England getting past the quarter finals in the W.C (world cup not the other one). with a performance like yesterdays. On a more encouraging note – I thought Scotland and Ireland played a more expansive game and really had a go. Both teams embraced the idea of attacking rugby, keeping the ball alive and turning down opportunities to kick penalties. Maybe to finish on I would like to say that I would love to see a much more quicker solution to scrums. Interested to hear anybody’s thoughts how we can improve it.

  • Comment number 77.

    I think England are unfortunately still in-transition! Johnson's team tried to play running rugby in the last 6N, but ground to a halt with poor performances against Scotland and Ireland where they were found wanting big time. It is genuinely difficult to understand what England do for training sometimes. The main problem is we don't have great centres or half backs consequently the ball rarely gets to some great backs. This is why we the running rugby we want to play falls down so often. Flood got completely murdered against Ireland, but lloked good in the other games and despite Wilkinson being a great Pro and points scorer together with the other scrum half, outside centre partnership means England are predictable. The forwards are good enough at the set piece, but simply the backs overall are lacking creativity, confidence and execution to make really good teams do something different and make mistakes.

    Having said all this I think we will probably make the QFs of the RWC. I think we might be a good team in a couple of years, but not this year.

  • Comment number 78.

    Re 61 from Liam - simple bigotry. So now it's not good enough to be brought up in England (see my comment no. 28), or even born in England but a player has to have an English name. That about sums up the underlying attitudes of some of the posters.

    Plugmonkey (no. 49) - yep, he's a bloke from Leicestershire. Mind you, in my proudly multicultural city there are plenty of blokes who would be disqualified by many of the posters in this thread.

  • Comment number 79.

    @76 curriehead - sorry, i didn't realise NZ had the copyright on the colour black!! My wife would owe them a bit in royalties if they did.

    Anyway I quite liked the charcoal effort against Australia last year and particularly liked the centenary kit which only lasted one match but that's just my taste. And isn't New Zealand's change shirt white? How dare they?!!

  • Comment number 80.

    The idea that nationality is based on your parents leads to an infinite regress. If you go back far enough then everyone is from the same part of the world, so that individual's own idea of where they belong has to be important. Obviously you need some restrictions, or people could just declare themselves to be from anywhere, but I think residency rules take care of this quite neatly.

    Cases like Waldrom I'm not so keen on, because from things he has said it seems that playing for England is something he just wants to show the all blacks what they were missing. He said something to that effect before he even moved here. Tuilagi is not the same.

  • Comment number 81.

    @76 curriehead - on a less confrontational note, with regard to scrums, wouldn't it make more sense to go Crouch, Touch and Pause, Engage? They're already pausing when they're told to pause, they then have to stop themselves going in for an early engagement, get in a bad position and go to ground. With some refs the gap between Touch and Pause is longer than the pause itself.

  • Comment number 82.

    " "As so often down the years, the Welsh looked more likely to score with ball in hand than England, and outscored their hosts three to two."

    Not only have England scored more tries in the last three Six Nations than Wales, this match was the first time since 2008 that Wales have outscored England.

    Some facts."

    Steve, trying to counter a point that begins "As so often down the years..." with facts from the last three years or so is doomed to failure.

    Stoddart's dreadful misfortune aside, I really enjoyed the game, but both teams will have to up their game considerably to worry you know who.......and I think both will.

  • Comment number 83.

    My England 15 vs Argentina.

    1. Sheridan 2. Hartley 3. Cole
    4. Palmer 5. Lawes
    6. Croft 8. Easter 7. Moody
    9. Care
    10. Wilkinson
    12. Tualangi
    13. Tindall
    11. Ashton 14. Cueto
    15. Fodan

    Bench. 16. Cobiserio 17. Thompson 18. Shaw 19. Haskell 20. Youngs
    21. Flood 22. Banahan

  • Comment number 84.

    hogorgog wrote:

    "Steve, trying to counter a point that begins "As so often down the years..." with facts from the last three years or so is doomed to failure. "

    How far bag do you have to go? England have scored 188 tries in the 6 Nations (so the last ten years) against 135 from Wales. Or is it something that can never be countered because it isn't about facts now but is something people "just know" to be true?

  • Comment number 85.

    A truely frustrating performance by England and one that, on further reflection seems, genuinely worrying.

    England seem to have regressed to where they were 18 months ago; which is especially worrying given how easily New Zealand dispatched Australia yesterday. England appeared over-coached, devoid of ideas whenever the opposition refused to rollover and crumble.

    For Wilkinson to be awarded MOTM is a sad indictment of where England are at. Whilst his kicking out of hand has improved considerably over recent years (since he sorted his hamstrings out), his inability to get his backline moving, to put his centres into space, is embarrassing. England are playing rugby by numbers and it doesn't work, and hasn't for years.

    New Zealand's Graham Henry is a big advocate of the 'pod system', i.e. attacking specific areas of the field in a pre-determined order, and whilst I have never been an advocate of this coaching philosophy it works for the ABs because, individually, they can read a game more instinctively, and reactive incisively when the game breaks down and opportunities present themselves.

    I can only assume that England are coached in a similar fashion, but stripped of their 'free-spirits', i.e. Youngs, Flood, Ashton and Foden, they are incapable of playing what is in front of them. Indeed, worryingly, my instinct tells me that England's better performances against Australia last summer and in last Autumn's internationals might be more to do with those named playing as they see fit, and contrary to the coaches script, rather than Martin Johnson and his cohorts finally imposing their coaching patterns on England's game.

    Is it a coincidence that the form of Youngs and Flood evaporated the more time they spent with the England coaches during this year's Six Nations? I think not.

    To see so many forwards repeatedly standing flat to take the ball at first receiver over-and-over again during the second period of the first half, whilst England's backs stood flat in a secondary line behind them had me pulling my hair out. Why is Wiliinson not screaming at them to get out of the way and have Manu and Flutey standing deep to take on the ball at pace. It can only be because it is how the coaches want them to play. But to think that Carter would have played the same pattern is dellusional and shows just how far Jonny's game has fallen...

  • Comment number 86.

    ...Whilst I appreciate England probably had several weeks of intense training in their legs whilch precluded them from imposing their superior physical abilities on Wales, as they normally would, it is also misguided to believe that this game plan would offer anything more than damage limitation against the Blacks, or the more attackingly gifted Aussies, or, indeed, the more physical Boks.

    To even test these sides England must show more flair and play off the cuff. I have no doubt that New Zealand would have put 60 points on Wales yesterday.

    What makes it even more frustrating is that I genuinely believe the Blacks have not progressed, in fact I am starting to think that they may have peaked in between RWCs yet again. The result in yestrday's Bledisloe Cup seemed to have as much to do with Australia's fragility as New Zealand's efficiency.

    The Kiwi pack can be attacked but even if England managed to shade possession they would have to take every chance presented in order to beat them. This England team appears incapable of doing that. Which is a shame, given England will probably only have to beat an Australian team in the RWC semis to face them. And given how Australia are totally dependent on an increasingly susceptible Quade Cooper, the chance was there.

    On the plus side from today's failings, Manu is a must start in the RWC and must be given another half in Cardiff next week and must start in Dublin against the Irish. Anyone who suggests that this kid is not going to have a massive impact at international level knows nothing about the game of rugby.

    I also believe Bannahan must start instead of Cueto come the RWC. I also thought Stevens and Armitage did their cases a power of good today.

  • Comment number 87.

    #83 To even contemplate starting with Danny Care is ludicrous.

  • Comment number 88.

    Good lord. Gentlemen, first of all, stop complaining about the use of foreign players! If they are getting picked ahead of their English-born counterparts, they are clearly better, and thus provide you with a better team, what's your problem with that? The only issue that does bother me is the sapping of the weaker nations strength, namely Fiji, Samoa and Tonga. Largely, when it comes to this debate, anyone that isn't the side in question complains, while defends their decisions ferociously when called on their own foreign selections (Wales were very quick to criticize England on their squad while having English and Tongan players)

    Second, stop drawing parallels between these teams and the Tri Nations sides. This was little more than a trial game while the TN is a full on competition. There is no room for any logical comparisons.

    Tuiliagi had a solid game, and while he showed his inexperience, he showed just exactly what he can offer to a sometimes static, unimaginative back line. Admittedly, Tindall is a defensive maverick and his experience and consistency was evidently missing as England were outscored 3-2. Regardless, England have found, potentially, English Rugby's next International superstar, and Johnno would have to be insane to not take him to NZ.
    George North continues to impress, he is another one that should be a shoe-in for the wales squad. In saying that, wales' back three credentials have been weakened by the loss of Stoddart who had been on tremendous form during the 6N. Nonetheless, Halfpenny, Byrne, Williams, and North will easily make up the back three composition of any 22 capable of challenging the southern giants. Springboks beware.

  • Comment number 89.

    Wales are a million miles away from competing with the southern hemisphere. Their tight five is very weak and their half backs little better. A poor Springboks side will comfortably beat them and Wales may well struggle to make the knokout stages.

  • Comment number 90.

    England lacked shape, fluency and direction yesterday, their forwards ran powerfully as you'd expect (croft and stevens being particularly effective) but Care and Wilkinson didn't control the game and provide those elements as they should have done, particularly given Wilkinson's exp (though personally i see this as the MAJOR fault of Care's game and why Hodgson should be going as 3rd choice 9),

    Flutey needs to step up and be more influential on attack, acting as a second reciever for the back 3 to cut lines off and distribute to vary England's attack and he went missing in that area yesterday, but he IS an international class 12 and just needs to find his role and form...

    Alot of these problems in terms of capitalising on positions stemmed from Haskell's inability to control the ball at the base of a dominant scrum and therefore Eng. rarely capitalised (admittedly its often unappreciated how difficult a skill that is), and unsurprising seen as he rarely plays 8 but to stake a claim he needs to improve there, but he still offers far more around the park than Easter...

    Moody's injury is a blessing in disguise, his breakdown skills are not good enough atm, exposed by a decent but not yet world class 7 in Warburton, should give a chance to wood or whoever to have an impact...

    Banahan, Tuilagi and Armitage all had big games (Banahan's best performance in an England shirt), but Foden is too good to drop and MJ's never dropping Tinds for wee Manu, next week will be more interesting i feel...

  • Comment number 91.

    Couldnt tindall play inside and and manu outside, with tindalls expierence and kicking abilities and manu's pace and power, it i think we could have are selves a good pairing. i realise tindall is not an inside centre but look at our other options, solid but very average hape, below par flutey (never mind blowing anyway) and possibly banahan who is a winger and plays centre less than manu in the premiership. we need players who can change a game, hape wont, tindal wont but tindall can support manu and his defensive organisation is second to no other centre.

  • Comment number 92.

    curriehead and Izrafel

    As an Austrailian I cant see why you guys have to get on wilkinsons back after a MOTM performance.....

    England have got to final of the last two world cups with Wilkinson running the show at fly half. I thought his distribution was outstanding throughout and his kicking was full of purpose.

    I can only come to one conclusion and that is that these forums are full of people who know simply NOTHING about rugby. The fact is wilkinson put in a very clever acomplished performance as highlighted by the England Manager plus all the rugby EXPERTS on sky and and in the papers today.

    A word of advice....the next time your country produces an outstanding sportsman try and appreciate him/her.

  • Comment number 93.

    The point about the "non-English-born" players in the England team vis-a-viz the Southern Hemisphere players (and Ireland, Wales & Scotland) is that we are not exactly a small country (some 52 million which is over 10 million more than the total populations of NZ, Oz, Wales, Scotland & Ireland) and therefore should not be so reliant on "foreign" imports. Only France & S Africa have comparable populations and I don't see them so heavily deoendant on "imports"
    I am interested by the fact that New Labour's multiculturalism has imbedded itself so deeply in the psyche of some contributoers on this subject that the issue touches such a raw nerve!

    Thanks to one posting I now have my "full house" of "non-English-born" players for the World Cup (might not be too bad!):

    Forwards: Mouritz Botha, Simon Shaw, Alex Corbisiero Hendre Fourie Dylan Hartley Matt Stevens Dan Ward-Smith Thomas Waldrom

    Backs: Riki Flutey Shontayne Hape Joe Simpson Manusamoa Tuilagi
    Lesley Vainikolo Matt Banahan, Delon Armitage

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 I must have been watching a different game. Wilkinson's distribution, normally a relatively strong part of his game, was atrocious, as was that of most of the England team, and this has been a fundamental flaw in England's game for as long as I can remember.

    Too many passes were fired at head height or not in front of the player, or both, and it is seriously hindering England's attacking game.

    I remember reading an article by Jerry Guscott, if I recall correctly, in which he said that the first team that perfects the art of passing will take the game to another level and I have to agree with him. At present no team appears to have mastered this area of the game albeit New Zealand, the Aussies and the French are light years ahead of England.

    I am a passionate Jonny Wilkinson and England supporter and will back them to the hilt but Wilkinson's game of recent years does not compare favourably to that of Carter or the flakey Cooper.

    Further, your suggestion that some on this board know little about rugby is rather condescending. I for one played the game at a very high level at school, before injury ended my career, and played with and against many players who have gone on to play for the senior England team over the past 10-15 years.

    On last thing, I happen to make my living, and a very nice one at that, from sports betting, predominantly on rugby, and I am happy to put my knowledge and understanding of the game up against anyone elses. Unfortunately, I happened to get yesterday's result wrong albeit England should have ensured that was not the case.

  • Comment number 95.

    @93 - The point is that out of the 52m people in England, a lot were not born there. But in a lot cases have grown up there. It touches a raw nerve because you have problem with people born somewhere else (but brought up here) playing for the country they were educated and learnt their rugby in. I agree Flutey, Waldrom, Hape etc shouldn't be playing gor England. But most of the guys named have wanted to play for Englabd since they first picked a ball. It stinks of bigotry to say to someone that they shouldn't be representing a country they have spent most of their life in.

  • Comment number 96.

    I thought it was a good warm up for both nations and can't wait for next week. Really sorry for Stoddart but it is a physical game.

    As an aside, for how long is Steve Walsh going to be allowed to be an international referee, he really is an embarrassment, aside from the Wilkinson knock on where the ball travelled 20 yds forward from his hands, not seen! It seemed that he lacked consistency at the breakdown and set piece.

    I would love to see a NH side triumph down south this autumn, of course I'd prefer it to be Wales but I fear that is beyond us. Tired of the perceived SH dominance, if you change the rules to the game with ERCs every NH close season of course you are going to deliver spanking after spanking when in the NH autumn the NH sides are just getting to grips with the new version of the game the SH sides have been playing for a season

  • Comment number 97.

    Which of the nations mentioned on this page is the worst for using foreign players?

    Englands provisional rugby world cup squad contained 14 players who were not born in England.

    Mouritz Botha
    Alex Corbisiero
    Hendre Fourie
    Dylan Hartley
    Simon Shaw
    Matt Stevens
    Thomas Waldrom
    Delon Armitage
    Matt Banahan
    Riki Flutey
    Shontayne Hape
    Charlie Sharples
    Joe Simpson
    Manu Tuilagi

    8 of whom have no English parent.

    Mouritz Botha
    Hendre Fourie
    Thomas Waldrom
    Delon Armitage
    Matt Banahan
    Riki Flutey
    Shontayne Hape
    Manu Tuilagi

    Of these 8, Manu Tuilagi and Matt Banahan came to England without having played professional rugby elsewhere.

    It is with the other 6 that I imagine people take the most exception.

    By contrast, the Welsh squad has only 2 players who were not born in Wales nor have a Welsh parent. Toby Faletau came to Wales when he was 7. George North was born in England but only lived there for 14 weeks before spending 2 years in Hong Kong and then living in Wales from the age of 2 (not sure of his mothers nationality). Luke Charteris, Dan Lydiate and Jonathan Davies were also born in England but all qualify on parentage and all were raised in Wales. The entire squad learnt their rugby and began their rugby careers in Wales.

    New Zealand. Of their entire current squad (34 players) as listed on the NZRU website, 5 players were not born in New Zealand.

    Jerome Kaino
    Mils Muliaina
    Sitiveni Sivivatu
    Ben Franks
    Isaia Toeava

    3 of them (Jerome Kaino, Mils Muliaina and Ben Franks) have been in New Zealand since they were 2 years old. That's a hell of a talent scout if they were poached! Sitiveni Sivivatu, was born in Fiji and has played for the pacific islanders. He has since qualified for New Zealand on residency. I'm uncertain on how Isaia Toeava became qualified for New Zealand. As for players coming from the pacific islands in their past teams, I'm sure that is true. But I am only comparing the current teams.

    I don't have time to check out the Aussies.

    To me, this all clearly shows that with current teams, England are far and away the worst offenders for using foreign players.

  • Comment number 98.

    I personally think the ones where a kid is born in a different country but is only there very temporarily should immediately be discarded from this overseas players debate for example sharples being born wherever he was as his dad was with the army, or Joe Simpson in Australia. Once you take those out of the debate, England only have hape,manu and Stevens anywhere near the starting team. And as is widely reported Manu was schooled here so he's a bit of an inbetweener.

    I agree though that it's sad England with such a big player pool have a fair few overseas talent in the squad. Not that I disagree with overseas talent but it doesn't reflect on our academies very well. It is mostly down to us taking a while to sort out grass roots development at the turn of professionalism. Just watch though English rugby has some serious talent coming through and the next world cup and one after we will have a quality, and very English squad. At the moment though the overseas players are providing a bit of a stop gap

  • Comment number 99.

    Niborevlis #93. interesting that you don't address my points but just make what I infer is a negative and overtly party political point about multiculturalism (while my reference to multiculturalism was irrelevant to party politics and a simple statement of pride in my hometown's rich diversity). I suggest that the raw nerve hit is yours.

    Manu is from Leicestershire. He's been there since 11. He went to school in the county. He has (as far as I'm aware) always said that he wants to play for England. Nuff said.

  • Comment number 100.

    im sorry im only 16 but is this blog about rugby or racial identity???? ;)


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