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Six Nations 2011 - How was it for you?

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Bryn Palmer | 13:37 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

So what have we learned from this Six Nations?

Well, let's take it country by country first, and then we'll have a few awards, and then a team of the tournament.

England are on the up, and deserved to be crowned champions, but still have a way to go before they can be confident of consistently beating the best teams in the world. Their defence and set-pieces were strong, so too their willingness to attack.

France were France, starting and finishing in style but in between failing to go the distance against England, which was understandable, and Italy, which was unthinkable. Powerful but inconsistent, and hampered by Marc Lievremont's selectorial tinkering.

Ireland were scratchy, but produced probably the most sustained passage of high-intensity rugby of the tournament against England. They also found a scrum, and had the best defence. Regrets for sure, but with big players back to form, more to come.

Wales won a game more than last year but still finished in the bottom three for the 10th time in 12 years. They kicked more ball, and conceded more penalties, than anyone. Still have the players to do better, but some serious tactical thinking required.

Scotland should spend less time talking about what they can do, and more time doing it better. They won only one game for the fifth year in a row. More off-loads in the tackle than anyone, but couldn't hang onto the ball. But six tries was twice last year's tally.

Italy could have won three matches, but the one they did was the highlight of the Championship. Until they have greater strength in playing numbers, will always struggle for consistency, but beating France was deserved reward for their contribution.

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Best match? For quality, excitement and not knowing which way it would go until the last mad-cap breakout which nearly saw a winning try, Ireland's 22-25 defeat by France in Round Two was probably the pick. But for sheer emotion, intensity, drama and a slice of history, Italy's 22-21 victory over France was the stand-out moment.

Worst match? Correct me if I'm wrong, but after the first 20 minutes, Scotland 6-24 Wales looked like the ultimate non-event, even if it was a vital victory for the visitors. Certainly Scotland's lowest point, and there were a few.

Best try? For probably the individual moment of skill in the entire championship, France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc's instinctive pass through his legs to put Imanol Harinordoquy away against Scotland on the opening day took some beating.

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For sentimental reasons, the try against England that saw Brian O'Driscoll set a new Championship record of 25. Three more this year, second only to England's Chris Ashton. BOD says he wants to play more games in the tournament, after the World Cup. Let's hope so. As Martin Johnson said before the England game, he's been the player of the last decade in European rugby. We'll miss him when he's gone.

Best tackle? England full-back Ben Foden thought he'd have the beating of Chris Paterson on the outside at Twickenham, but his Scotland counterpart proved he still has the pace, courage and intelligence to keep up with the youngsters.

Biggest balls-up? Scottish touch judge Peter Allan will have nightmares anytime someone asks him 'Are you sure?' for the rest of his life. Referee Jonathan Kaplan asked him for confirmation that Wales had used the same ball that was kicked into touch at the line-out from which Mike Phillips scored the winning try for Wales against Ireland. He nodded. Replays proved otherwise, and Ireland were incensed.

Team of the Tournament?

15 Ben Foden (Eng) For consistency throughout, even if he struggled in Dublin. Honourable mentions (HMs) to Italy's Andrea Masi for a colossal display in the win over France, and Scotland's Chris Paterson for enduring quality.

14 Chris Ashton (Eng) Six tries in first two games, none in last three, but continued to show up all over the place in search of more. Tommy Bowe missed the first two rounds, but had returned to top form for the finale against England. Class act.

13 Brian O'Driscoll (Ire) Has there been a year when he hasn't got in? Not always at his supreme best, but remains a try-scorer, defensive rock and leader par excellence. HMs to the Italian Gonzos, Canale and Garcia.

12 Jonathan Davies (Wal) While his more senior partner Jamie Roberts remained a muted threat, the Scarlets man enjoyed a breakthrough campaign. HM too for Sean Lamont, a winger with attitude who gave Scotland some momentum up the middle.

11 Vincent Clerc (Fra) Could equally have been his team-mate Maxime Medard, who dazzled periodically. The elusive Clerc has been around a while, but showed the folly of leaving him out initially. HMs to Max Evans, Mark Cueto and Mirco Bergamasco.

10 Toby Flood (Eng) Tough one this. Flood starred in England's opening two wins, stuttered slightly and stumbled in Dublin, but overall he was in credit, and kicked 19 out of 22 at goal. He and France's Francois Trinh-Duc were the only fly-halves who started each game, the other four countries chopping and changing. James Hook impressed in the three games he started at 10, and it is to be hoped Wales give him a decent run there now. HMs to Jonathan Sexton and Ruaridh Jackson.

9 Ben Youngs (Eng) A chastening finale for the youngster when he was sin-binned before half-time in Dublin and then replaced, but he still played a prominent part in making England champions. HM to Italy newcomer Fabio Semenzato.

1 Thomas Domingo (Fra) Bizarrely dropped for the Italy game and then swiftly restored, the squat Clermont prop caused problems at scrum-time, and was energetic around the field. HM to England's Alex Corbisiero. Looked at home in Test rugby.

2 William Servat (Fra) A close call. Dylan Hartley was superb for England for four matches, ignoring pre-match jibes from opposition coaches to deliver some mature displays. But Servat's consistency in a powerful front row continues to impress.

3 Martin Castrogiovanni (Ita) England's Dan Cole tailed off a bit while Mike Ross is indispensable now Ireland - who didn't lose a single scrum - have belatedly picked him. Castro had a shocker at Twickenham but was otherwise a tower of strength.

4 Richie Gray (Sco) His blond hair and size mean he's noticed more than most, but clearly a player who can be a beacon for Scotland - and the Lions - for years. HMs to England's Louis Deacon, Bradley Davies of Wales and France's Lionel Nallet.

5 Tom Palmer (Eng) Missed when he went off early in Dublin, the Paris-based lock had a fine tournament, and was man-of-the-match in the win over France. Secure at the line-out, and highly skilled elsewhere. HM to Paul O'Connell. Back to form.

6 Sean O'Brien (Ire) And to think Ireland also have Stephen Ferris waiting to return. The Leinster man justified the pre-tournament hype with his explosive ball-carrying. Another Lion in the making. HMs to Tom Wood (emerging class) and Thierry Dusautoir (enduring).

7 Sam Warburton (Wal) A few eyebrows raised when Martyn Williams was left out of the Wales squad, but the youngster more than justified the faith placed in him. James Haskell also excelled in the hybrid role England gave him in Lewis Moody's absence.

8 Sergio Parisse (Ita) Imanol Harinordoquy impressed when France coach Marc Lievremont picked him, and Jamie Heaslip finished strongly on his return from injury, but the great Sergio was probably the most talented player in the whole tournament.

Just for fun, here's a quick Lions XV based on performances in the Six Nations, two years out from the next tour to Australia. No doubt others will emerge, but most of these should still be in the mix in 2013.

Ben Foden, Tommy Bowe, Brian O'Driscoll (if he's still going), Jonathan Davies, Chris Ashton, James Hook, Ben Youngs; Cian Healy, Dylan Hartley, Dan Cole, Richie Gray, Tom Palmer, Sean O'Brien, Sam Warburton, Jamie Heaslip.

Many of you who responded to my blog from Dublin thought that this was a poor-quality Six Nations, which will do nothing to enhance the prospects of any of the teams going into the World Cup later this year.

I'd agree that it wasn't a vintage Championship, even if it produced one epic moment of drama (Italy v France) which will live long in the memory. Most years do.

What would represent a great Six Nations? One team consistently prevailing over the rest with a brand of all-singing, all-dancing rugby? Whenever a country does that - for example Wales, in 2005 or 2008 - there are always those ready to denigrate the achievement by lamenting the poor quality of the opposition.

Or two or three teams still in with a chance of the title going into the final weekend? Can it still be high quality if the prospective champions lose at least one game?

Having just returned from Ireland's Fair City, I'm going to leave the last word on this year's Championship to one respondent to my blog from the weekend (no 71 - stenakt), as it probably most resembles my own view.

- "Long live the 6 nations. The quality of the rugby may not sometimes be as good as the SH, but the diversity, history and tradition of the 6N is tough to beat. If you don't believe me, try a night in Dublin after a 6N match."

Hear, hear.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    I think that the best moment and best match of the tournament was definitely the Italy-France game. It was so amazing as you predicted the whole way through - even up to the re-setting of scrums in injury time - that France would win it, but somehow, no.

    Italy are slowly getting better and better - I cannot believe I am saying this, but if you think about it, (like Scotland last year), but for a few bits of bad luck and carelessness that they haven't yet perfected, or yet god a better goal-kicker, Italy could have challenged for a Grand Slam, if they hadn't performed so badly against England.

  • Comment number 2.

    i wouldnt have put flood in the team of the tournament. He played well against two pretty average sides (Italy,Wales) and then was average himself in the rest of the tournament.

    Jonny Wilkinson showed him up when he came off the bench and offered a lot more control and actualy got the backs moving (try against Scotland).

  • Comment number 3.

    "Here, here"?

  • Comment number 4.

    'Italy could have challenged for a Grand Slam, if they hadn't performed so badly against England.'

    I love the celts. You will never ever give England credit. Italy lost because they played really badly, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact England played really well. So bitter.

  • Comment number 5.

    I thought that Morgan Parra of France was easily the best scrum half on view. Youngs option choices were often awry.

  • Comment number 6.

    Overhyped and boring basically.
    Time to sort the scrum out...when you spend nearly 5mins on trying to get one scrum right and the clock is still ticking,the game and the spectator is being short-changed.
    The game is still dominated by the penalty kick where 5 pens are worth more than 2 conversions...and that can't be good for the game. A reduction to 2pts may result in more teams opting to play rugby and that's the name of the game.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Re mcfwinn 16.47.

    It is a bit late in his career for Wilkinson to start this running nonsense!!

  • Comment number 9.

    To Andy (comment 4) - we've changed that now. I noticed it too. Hope it doesn't detract from what I personally think is the best blog on our site today. Good spot though!

    Lewis Wiltshire,
    Editor.

  • Comment number 10.

    Andy was comment 3, not 4. Anyway, all sorted, and will leave everyone to discuss the Six Nations. While I'm here, I may as well tell you that this year's championship had the highest average peak audience coming to BBC TV of the Six Nations era. 4.6m was the average peak during live broadcasts - previous best was 4.4m for the 2009 Six Nations. Highest peaks per match were 9.6m for England v France, 8.2m for Wales v England and 8.0m for England v Scotland.

  • Comment number 11.

    comment 4 I love how you just jumped to the conclusion that the comment came from a "celt", who said its not someone english there name doesnt give much away. Also im irish and credit to the english team hands down england won more games then every1 else so deservedly the 6 nations champions and i think alot of people includin the english have been way to harsh on the english team. every team who has won the championship or grandslam recently has played a dodgy game or a half where there not at there best.

    Also I agree I would have had parra as scrum half thought when he played was better then every1 else but then youngs did start every game parra didnt

  • Comment number 12.

    I was in Dublin for the long weekend, and it was a fantastic atmosphere. Watched the match in Fitzsimons in the Temple Bar region, was great fun even though we lost!

  • Comment number 13.

    Please will somebody hand out a song sheet to the English players when they get called up to the Squad so that they can sing The National Anthem correctly. The lyrics are (according to the Daily Telegraph):-

    God save our gracious Queen
    Long live our noble Queen
    God save the Queen
    Send her victorious
    Happy and glorious
    Long to reign over us
    God save the Queen

    Throughout the 6 Nations, both the English players and supporters have consistently sung "God save our Queen" for lines 3 and 7. Is the National Anthem no longer taught in the English education system, or were the lyrics changed following devolution in the late 1990's?

  • Comment number 14.

    Dylan Hartley a Lions hooker? You must be joking?

  • Comment number 15.

    The only thing that got my goat in the whole of the 6Nations was the BBC camera work. I watched every match or should I say tried too. You cannot follow the match. Too many closeups for one. How many times must we watch a player running with the ball and nothing else. Every lineout it seems we are looking at the back of a touch judge rather than the game in play.
    Scrums with only half the scrum to be seen no idea of whats happening elsewhere.
    I could go on and on and on. Shots of the crowd or a presenter during play.
    It really came home to me when I was talking to someone hard of hearing. They suggested to me to watch a recording with the sound down. Try it you then have no idea about what is going on.
    It amazed me just how much of the game coverage is oral now not visual. Do it yourself if you have recorded a match and see if you can follow the play.
    I am told it is the same for all sport on the BBC now. Take swimming you spend ages looking at someones head the rest of the race is just lost.
    When are the BBC going to get back to showing us the game not this person and that.
    I have complained to the BBC every weekend until I am blue in the face. Their answer is thats BBC policy because thats what people want. Not if you are deaf or hard of hearing its not.

  • Comment number 16.

    #6 1878onwards - I have to disagree about the scoring of penalties. If a penalty was 2 points instead of 3 it would encourage illegal spoiling tactics. The more cynical sides would be happy to foul and let the opposition have 2pts rather than risk the 7pts for a converted try.

  • Comment number 17.

    Am a bit bemused by Cueto's HM was it for a 50th cap???, cant be his scoring record as he has turned into the emile heskey of rugby what was his try against italy 1 in how many matches now i cant actaully remember his last try.
    Please please Johno play Banahan from the start in his correct position WING. he has scored more tries in the autumn tests than Cueto has done for ages.
    and with him charging down the wing the Centres may follow in support instead of being static look at his run and offload for one of ashtons tries as well as knocking kelly brown back across the border!!.
    ashton/flood and youngs started bright enough but 2 good performances and 3 not so good for the rest of the tournament can that really justify Lions places.
    there were lots of positives this championship though. And for not having the Quality of the SH well they weren't invulnerable in the Autumn tests and % of the RWC final have had a northern Hemisphere team in.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 13, hadn't noticed, but at least rugby players sing their national anthems. Footballers (at least the English ones) don't seem that bothered.

    I thought it was an entertaining 6N overall. Although there seem to be too many 'loose ends' at the moment for anyone to compete with the SH and especially the All Blacks.

  • Comment number 19.

    After watching the tournament I can say that I am pleased, no it wasn't a vintage tournament but some of the rugby was fantastic. On the subject of Domingo being your number 1 choice at 1 I have to agree, but being a London Irish fan it was so good to see Corbisiero playing. If he had started the tournament I would have swapped him in for Domingo, cannot wait to see him for England in the future!

  • Comment number 20.

    Good blog.....looking forward to the WC now!

    I would have to say that Masi has to be the fullback of the tournament over Foden. Masi scored two tries and Foden only scored once.....plus, Masi was playing out of position......

    Also, I would put Hook as Fly Half of the tournament as the man is just a pure genius.

    Wood deserves a notable mention but I agree that O'Brien and Warburton were the picks.

    Gray was definately man of the tournament. What a player! And O'Driscoll is still a living legend. Hope that man never retires!

    I think Coach of the tournmanet should go to Mallet....shame this was his last 6N for Italy as I think he has done a brilliant job with them.

  • Comment number 21.

    should read 5 RWC finals

  • Comment number 22.

    I think it's one of the real highlights of the sporting calendar. Generally it's a well run tournament, about the right length and doesn't suffer from over-exposure.

    Comment #6 is absolutely right about scrums. I could have nodded off waiting for 'engage' in some games - only for the scrum to collapse and be reset. Not sure I agree about the penalties though. I don't think the balance is too bad and reducing the points to 2 might well encourage teams to give away more penalties due to the lesser consequences. Better I'd have thought to reduce the number of offences that result in kicks at goal. If foul play results in the opposition being camped on your goal line and a 7 point penalty, you are more likely not to do it.

    Flood is great when he time to play. Under pressure he looks a bit lightweight and I fear the SH teams will exploit it.

    If Italy could kick goals, they could have won all their home games, which is hugely encouraging, and Masi didn't just play well in the French game. For me he edged out Foden for the 15 shirt.

  • Comment number 23.

    In your summary of Ashton your last two words are "class act." Surely his try celebrations are at best foolish (he has been lucky so far but eventually he will surely knock-on through doing one of those silly dives) and at worst really quite vulgar.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think England did brilliantly- everyone saves up their best game for england apart from Italy because they're the only ones we've never historically conquered, oppressed or humiliated on the international stage! But the three best teams in the world are still the big three in the south...

  • Comment number 25.

    Wilkinson: the best fly half; if he played for Italy we could resolve a lot of problems

  • Comment number 26.

    Always a great start to the year. It may not have the skill level of the Tri-Nations but for drama, excitement and tradition you cant beat it.

    Note to Ireland, Wales and Scotland show the same passion and desire to win against other teams as you do against England and you might actually win more games and tournaments.

  • Comment number 27.

    Bryn you got it right in most positions but there are some seriously dodgey picks and you contradict yourself in your very first choie:

    " 15 Ben Foden (Eng) For consistency throughout, even if he struggled in Dublin"

    You even noticed your own contradiction..Foden bottled it against Ireland whereas Masi was good throughout and Patterson was better again with two huge try saving tackles.

    HM to Paul o'Connell.....The guy was immense all through and he is just back from injury go back and look at his highlights; a huge amount of carries and awesome in the lineout.

    Mike Ross did not lose 1 scrum the whole campaign but I respect the call for Castro even if he was poor against Wales.

    Ben Youngs WILL be a great scrum half but he possibly cost England the game in Dublin with his childish tap of Reddan's arm and then getting binned was unforgiveable. I would take Mike Phillips anyday Youngs still has lots to learn.

    Apart from that obvious English Bias in the team it was ok!

  • Comment number 28.

    Have questions about your "team of the tournament" and the biggest one is Toby Flood? Hook, Wilkinson, O'Gara.....any one of these 3 deserve to be in that position when compared to Flood. He was decent against average teams but in the Scottish and the Irish game......well not in control as much. Wilkinson came on to prove his worth by controlling the game more. As for Ashton, personally i think he is an overrated player. Sure he comes off the line to make some decent breaks but he's not clinical enough. He made the break against Ireland and made 2 passes which were intercepted and this is the same against France as well when he tried to pass to Cueto. I don't think he has the ability to read the game well and his silly diving.....

  • Comment number 29.

    England are considered to have one of the most exciting back row three in the world with foden, cueto and ashton. As someone has already mentioned cueto is decent but i think that we need someone that can take the hit an offload very much in the way new zealand do with virtually every player. Banahan could be for us what sonny bill williams is for them, as for foden and ashton how do they compare to Kurtley Beale and bryan habana or mils muliaina cause although ashton has showed early promise im not sure they are quite at that standard or level yet. In the six nations our backs have definetely showed promise but in comparison to the backs the northern hemisphere possess i still think england are falling behind, just wondered what other people thoughts are on this?

  • Comment number 30.

    wat about dan lydiate?

  • Comment number 31.

    Worst sight: the close-ups of Sexton and Hook repeatedly and prodigiously gobbing before their spot kicks.

  • Comment number 32.

    I can't believe that Dylan "the Toaster" Hartley is in your team of the tournament... every time the heat goes on in the scrum, up he pops. This tournament the refs seemed so relieved if the scrums didn't collapse (like in the Autumn snooze-fests) that they weren't going to penalise anything else. He'll get pinged for it in the World cup (unless playing Australia's fearsome scrummaging unit!!!) Agree with your choices for 15 and 10, although it has to be said that full backs and half backs throughout this tournament have been desperately disappointing...

  • Comment number 33.

    Nobody scored more points than England. Nobody conceded fewer. I know that hides a lot of subtleties, but I'm quietly happy that they won more games than any other team, had a wider margin of ponts scored vs. conceded and scored a few great tries. For a team that seems to have a lot of upside, it's a pretty good year. But for the Lions, I'd like to see more maturity ...

  • Comment number 34.

    England deserved to win the tournament but you could hardly say that they set it alight in the manner Wales did in 2005 and 2008. I think if they struggled like they did against ireland, good luck against the AB and SA. I dont think the england team were helped by the very anglo- centric bbc hyping them all up before they'd finished the job. Using the term world class on some of their new platers after 5 games is premature imho

  • Comment number 35.

    I don't think the mauling at Ireland should be an overriding measure of England's campaign, they were scintillating and in stages when crucially required able to apply a clinical touch and have a ruthless streak, they did that when Wales could have raced over them raggedly, when France looked harmful during the opening forty-minutes, when Scotland never seemed to falter...Ireland's long-sustained passage of pressure was simply too much for England, but the fact that we are the RBS Six Nations Champions is richly-deserved, and amusingly our performances and potential is hugely more impressive than the recent Grand Slam champions.

    I see England reaching the World Cup semi-finals at their very best, they would hope to avoid South Africa or New Zealand for the final, I'd rather face the All Blacks who struggle under sustained pressure, I think the other northern contenders would be France or Wales, I think Wales illustrated their potential against New Zealand this autumn and a performances to similar degrees would be sufficiently enough.
    England like in all sports always have plenty of energy and potential to devastate and deliver a powerful message, but if we can't handle the big giants like South Africa or stick away points against the likes of New Zealand when presented with the chances, then it'll be another frustrating World Cup because the 2007 run to the final was simply shaped and engineered by the kicking class of Wilkinson and the scrum pack.

  • Comment number 36.

    Not forgetting the "Best Brian Moore response" category

    "There's A Cook, didn't he play well against Australia"
    "Yeah, Couldn't happen to a nicer race"

  • Comment number 37.

    The Scotland-Wales game was dreadful, the England-Scotland game was dreadful, but at least teams were trying to make it exciting in those games, even if their incompetence got in the way. For me the worst game was Wales-Ireland:

    Hook: here, have the ball (kick)
    ROG: No, you have it (kick)
    Hook: No, I insist, here you are (kick)
    ROG: Why don't you just kick it out?
    Hook: You first
    ROG: Ok, I'll kick it out this time if you kick it out next time
    Hook: It's a deal.

    (Repeat ad nauseam).

    It's always the case though. The majority of 6 Nations games are tight and possibly exciting (except for neutrals) but the quality is sporadic rather than the norm. It is a rare occurrence that a team plays exciting rugby from the start to finish and completely dominates. It is surprising that people seem perennially surprised by that. My biggest complaint is the number of international rugby players who can't seem to pass a ball properly without making the receiver check his run. However, contrary to what those in the SH will tell you, the Tri Nations is not without its games that are complete borefests for neutrals, even if they are fewer and far between. And they would give anything to have the kind of atmosphere that is generated in Cardiff, Dublin etc. It's just not possible in Auckland.

    I don't think the 6 Nations has impacted the likely World Cup scenarios at all. The Tri Nations teams are still favourites to make up 3 of the 4 semi finalists. If Wales or Ireland make a semi it will be because they will have upset Australia or the Boks. I don't think Ireland's performance on Saturday is enough to say they should expect to reach the semis, but it means that they could pull it out of the bag if everything comes right. Italy and Scotland will try valiantly. Ireland won't slip up against Italy in their group, so Italy will go out. Scotland will fancy their chances in their group but I think England will get better faster than they will and prevail. Both should beat Argentina. England or France should play each other in the quarter final so one of them will make up the 4th semi spot. So my semi finals are
    England vs Australia
    NZ vs South Africa

    Final.....who knows? England have the beating of Australia but not if they play like they did against Ireland. Will NZ hold it together? NZ vs Aus final, NZ to win it, with France potentially to scupper all that and beat England, Aus.

    In summary, the same as what I was thinking before the 6 Nations, so nothing has changed.

  • Comment number 38.

    I love the 6 Nations, always have, though it is true that the quality is not always that high, especially when you compare it to some of the Tri Nations games. I really cannot see anyone stopping the Southern Hemisphere teams. Ireland were brilliant on Saturday, dispatched England with ease but even that performance, the best performance of any team in the tournament, would probably not have beaten the All Blacks. I cannot really argue with any of your picks but I wonder if Youngs and Flood deserve to be in there. They were pretty ordinary in all the games bar the first two. Also, the France-Italy game was not that special nor that surprising if you follow the French team. They can have real shockers and they thoroughly deserved to lose that game. However, it was remarkable that nobody commented on the fact that Bryce Lawrence totally bottled the decision at the end not to award France a penalty at the scrum. Any other point in the game and he would have done so.

  • Comment number 39.

    First up Irish fan.

    I get very tired of the bashing of the tournament. Ok if it's not as good as the Tri-Nations there is plenty else to watch. Personally I love it, one of the sporting highlights of the year.

    I think the key aspect of the tournament this year has been injuries for so many, somewhat veiling teams true potential. Looking at England-Moody, Lawes, Croft and Sheridan, if fit would have possibly made a difference, particularly Lawes who is a big improvement on the hard-working but limited Deacon. Ireland-Ferris, Kearney O'leary, whilst latter two may not have made terrific difference, Ferris is still the best 6 in Europe imo. Would have been in the team for sure, prob for Wallace who was in fact my man of the match v England. Still, the thought of a back row of Ferris,o'brien and Heaslip would scare most.

    Others also had injuries, notably Wales' entire front row in parts. Mermoz big miss for France, as are Lievremonts marbles if Chabal gets another cap.

    So I agree with the sentiment of a previous poster if not the tone, not a lot has changed. We knew what we now know before the championship. I cannot wait for September but am happy we have got the Heineken to see us through to the summer.

  • Comment number 40.

    1878 - "A reduction to 2pts may result in more teams opting to play rugby" or it might just lead to defending teams giving away penalty after penalty in their own 22. I sometimes wonder if increasing the score for a penalty given away to 5 points (maybe only in your own 22) would be a deterrent? For example, you're defending and sense a try, you encroach, to potentially "save" 4 points. Not entirely convinced by my own argument but thought I'd throw it into the debate.

  • Comment number 41.

    #24 & #26 - please stop talking this tripe about Ireland only getting it together for the England match. The only team to have more victories against us than we have against them in the last 8 years is France. That is who we want to beat. Is your opinion of your own team's professionalism so low that you think you get consistently beaten by a team just because they "care more"?
    Having said that, congratulations to England, you were the best team of the year, and there is real room for growth in your inexperienced squad, I think this WC may be too soon for you however.
    The 6 nations is a tournament I love, the rugby isn't always amazing and you can generally bank on a couple of stinkers - Scotland Wales - Ireland Italy - this year for me, but the tournament as a whole is fascinating, and it is at it's best when there isn't a grand slam, when there is a couple of options going into the last day.
    Good luck to all the NH in the WC, let's have an all NH final!
    Ahem.

  • Comment number 42.

    GreyandCold,

    Please see this news article;

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/irish/9430658.stm

    'The result extended Ireland's winning sequence against their Six Nations rivals to seven victories in eight meetings, yet Trimble insists England's scalp remains as precious as ever.


    "Everybody's massively motivated against England - we never get sick of beating them and that's why we enjoyed the win so much.

    "There's a lot of history there and everyone in the team wants to beat them.

    "Every team wants to beat England and we're no exception." '

  • Comment number 43.

    13. Is "God Save the Queen" taught as part of the educational system? It wasn't when I was at school in the 70's. Has it been introduced since then?

  • Comment number 44.

    "England are considered to have one of the most exciting back row three in the world with foden, cueto and ashton."
    Really? By who? They are average at best. None of them, except possibly the fullback, would make the bench let alone the starting XV for any SH side. After watching the game on the weekend, i'd say the Irish back 3 are better than England's.

  • Comment number 45.

    I would have to disagree with Youngs at 9 and Flood at 10, sure they looked good when going forward but looked very average when going backward. I would actually give it to the French pair in Parra and Trinh Duc.

    I actually enjoyed the tournement very much and as an Irishman i was very happy to see Ireland finally put in an appearance that we all knew they could. I am not getting over excited though as at the moment its still just a 1 off performance. If they could play like that more consistently then i will start to believe that they are up there with the best.

    England won the tournement whilst never really looking that good (fleeting moments) which is a sign of a team coming together. They certainly have the base to be a very good team in 1 or 2 years and i would'nt be suprised to see them win a GS before 2015.

  • Comment number 46.

    Good piece. Agree with most selections at the end. However, for the Lions 15...no Tom Croft...really?? He was a stand out performer on the last tour and will have another two years experience under his belt for the next tour. An effective runner, great in the loose and increasingly vital at the lineouts. Maybe not quite indispensable yet, but I'm willing to bet he'll be one of the first names on the team sheet come the next tour.

  • Comment number 47.

    No place for Tom Croft in the Lions XV? I'd rate him higher than either of the 6/7 you mentioned.

    No mention for James Haskell? He had his best run of games in an England shirt this 6N, in the team that finished first....

  • Comment number 48.

    39 - excellent post -couldn't agree more. Injuries have played a big part, but surely always do in Rugby. Teams rarely will have fully fit, fully inform players available. It is how they perform without that is the key.
    On the whole, I think that England, Ireland and France are on the same sort of level, Wales should be, but never seem to be able to put all their talents together in a sustained form. Looking forward to the RWC, the draw is favourable to the six nations in that England, France, Wales and possibly Ireland will all be on the same side of the draw, potentially removing the possibility of facing NZ and SA in the knockout rounds.

    Although I'm English, I would have had Parra above Youngs, but Haskell in front of O'Brien. Haskell had his most consistent Six Nations to date and was at his destructive best for much of the tournament.

  • Comment number 49.

    ''Banahan could be for us what sonny bill williams is for them''

    A ha, a ha ha ha. Banahan is not sonny bill williams!! He is not even good enough to be an international centre! He is just a big battering ram with a his only trick being some trick pass offload.

  • Comment number 50.

    Best tackle? Wilkinson's last gasp hit in the corner against Wales. No question.

  • Comment number 51.

    @40 Rossignol

    Interesting. I like that idea, changing the worth of a penalty in various zones. We risk losing major traditionalists but it could definitely make it more exciting if done right. I'd be interested to hear how people would set up various point zones, including using the 5 metre (from touch) lines and beyond halfway etc.

  • Comment number 52.

    Best game by far for me was Wales v Ireland.

    Why?

    Because I was there, with my irish mate, then afterwards we drank in Cardiff till the wee small hours, atmosphere was brilliant, and the Irish fans (justifiably upset with the manner of the result) were still shaking my hand and offering congratulations.

    Still the best tournament on earth.

    p.s. Gethin and Adam for the Lions.....

  • Comment number 53.

    I found the standard of play / skills levels pretty average and the games generally dull. Not helped I know by the bad televison coverage which generally excluded context - I can see the ball carrier; I don't want a close up. I want to know whos in front or alongside or even behind; Even where his on the field would help.
    France and Ireland both showed what they are capable of - both good and bad - but not able to sustain it through a tournament. French flair and continuity in particular was in short supply. England started well (15 man rugby, imagine that) and then faded, but I'd say excellent progress and they will know what they need to do to get better. But will Johnson persist with the style or fall back into the kicking/grinding security blanket? Scotland came on a leap but also showed how hard it is to make a big enough leap to make a difference. For me they need to look at grassroots and find a better way to find and develop more players from such a small pool. Italy made the biggest improvement but again, showed how big a step has to be taken to start winning. A good moment to fertilise the grass roots. If they can sustain the highest levels they played then they can compete in the 6 nations, and commentators wouldn't have to be so condescending to them. Apart from the odd moment, Wales played by numbers and were unnatural, boring, predictable, dull, etc.
    Overall disappointed. Pre world cup there should be optimism, a spring in the step and fine tuning, not still trying to find a compass. Should be talking of preparation not development. The current game is not helped by the uninspiring organisational structure of the flat RL or american football style. Setting the scrums is still a farce. Random decisions like the odd penalising of 'not straight' at scrums or line outs is bizarre when almost all feeds are bent, and overlooked. Blocking or obstruction and getting honed to a natural / professional standard.
    I don't think the big 3 southern hemisphere sides have anything to worry about, as their standards are generally higher and they are more attuned to going through a tournament with more consistency, altho there may be the odd moment that will cause a few palpitations.

  • Comment number 54.

    I am not sure it is a lack of quality but more a mentality of not wanting to lose that means we end up with close matches and a lot of unnecessary kicking. In theory with the new rules it is much easier to keep the ball and build phases but as England showed emphatically if you get it wrong it is disatrous, literally every time we did something positive and got moving forward we made a mistake of some sort. The kicking game to an extent is therefore the safer option.

    Australia beat NZ in (in 2003) because they didnt kick the ball meaning NZ had no counter attacking ball to play with and therefore limiting there scoring chances but I still believe there is a place for quality tacftical kicking O'Gara being one of the better examples. He closed England out of the game although we contributed nicely to our downfall.

    I fear the same for the wc England are a year or two away from being at their best.

    However I am not so sure that the gap between north and south is as large anymore. Ireland and Wales are capable of beating any team and England and France have been to finals.

    Re Saturday I cant believe that any England team will ever be capable of making so many mistakes in 1 game. I watched it a second time as painful as that was and the list of errors

    offside at the start, losing a linout on your own 5 metre line, passing to the opposition, throwing the ball away, tapping the scrum halves hand, missing a kick almost in front of the posts, losing the ball in contact, knock ons I am sure there are more, imagine I have listed 8 errors and a lot of these we committed 2 or even more times.

    Literally everything that could go wrong did.

    Re the penalty points being zonal I think it is an excellent idea perfect example Englands yellow card against Wales stopped an almost certain try scoring passage of play.

    So what do we think 5 points from 5 metres, 4 points between 5 metre and 22 metre line and 3 for everything else?

    Modern rugby means as against Wales we are happy to give 3 points away even if it means a yellow card. I think it is an interesting idea.


    I cant wait for the world cup if France lost to NZ we have an excellent chance of getting to the final and knowing NZ that wont be against them!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 55.

    Also I was one of the Tindall is too old clan!!!

    However if Tindall doesnt play I think we have seen Wilkinson must. The young guns need an old cool battle worn head to guide them and apprently one can only assume Tindall was that guide......

  • Comment number 56.

    Hi Lewis #9 - I appreciate the response on the 'here, here' typo. You're right: it didn't detract from what is a great blog ... I only pointed it out 'cos you gave me short shrift at a sub/producer interview a few months back! ;)

  • Comment number 57.

    Best moment - Italy beating France. Worst - as an Englishman it has to be the inept performance in Dublin. As for each of the teams England - definitely on the up. If they can learn from the poor performances against Scotland & Ireland and are brave enough when selecting the squad, they could have a fruitful trip to NZ in the autumn. France - who knows? So much talent but so inconsistent. Ireland - superb against England, great in attack against France but so indisciplined, average against Scotland, Wales and Italy. Italy - another solid leap forward. Scotland - flashes of promise and a few talented individuals coming through but no real depth. Desperately need at least one more pro team. Wales - here's where I upset our friends in red. I sense another disaster at the world cup. Lucky to win 3 games. Talent galore but becoming wittingly like Sven's England football team in that some players seem undroppable. Send Mike Phillips the same way as that other show pony Henson and pick on form not reputation and success is therefo the taking. Finally, a Lions starting XV based on this championship - Foden, Ashton, Bowe, BOD (Capt), Roberts, Hook, Youngs, Corbisiero, Hartley, Ross, O'Connell, Gray, O'Brien, Warburton, Heaslip.

  • Comment number 58.

    Its silly to name a Lions team without Gethin and Adam. They are best, in Gethin's case by a long way. If the Lions are to win in Aus, then they need those two at their very best, pumelling the Aussie scrum.

    I second that, not a vintage year, but a very exciting one. Roll on next Feburary.

  • Comment number 59.

    LOL - why debate the finest moments of the tournament - when surely they will all be available in the full definitive package of England's Grand Slam 2011 video?

    Would all the posters on here the other day rubbishing the claims that England were arrogant please provide me with your email addresses, and I will send you a complimentary copy of the trailer.

    When's the DVD due out, lads? ; )

  • Comment number 60.

    Are England arrogant - surely not from this.....?
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/rugby_union/9432493.stm

  • Comment number 61.

    As a Welshman I agree with phil68 (comment#57)

    Generally some good entertaining games but the IRB need to desperately sort out scrummaging..... crouch, touch, pause, engage.... collapse....... it's a farce!

    There were a number of times in all games where the front row that stayed on it's feet was penalised whereas the opposing front row were horizontal, faces down in the grass and got awarded the penalty! I'm no expert but surely if you are still on your feet then you haven't collapsed it! BAFFLING!!



    I'm not going to debate the best 15 but Mike Phillips is probably the worst scrum half in the 6N, and I'm Welsh...... the number of times he delayed at rucks, took one step too many and got caught with the ball was criminal...... against France, Peel's delivery was much slicker but I think he would even be on the bench had Ritchie Rees not been banned......

    ....... and, is it against the law for forwards to ruck/maul...... if I see one more 2nd row/back row in the centre or a prop on the wing, I'll scream...... get in there and do the dirty work and win the ball for the sunglass wearing, ice-cream eating backs to show how it's done please!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Just read outmybox (comment#60) and the link, unfortunately the majority of English fans don't deserve this kind of embarressing story but it's this apparent arrogance is the reason why the Celtic nations are so desperate to beat England.......... unfortunately the football mentallity seems to spilling over into rugby now!!

  • Comment number 63.

    Apart from a weak italy performance, another great year for irish rugby. Apart from darcy's missed tackle against france and should have been dis-allowed try for wales, 2011 should have been another Grand Slam

  • Comment number 64.

    60 & 62 - re the 6 nations champs video - this is nothing more than nike preparing for different scenarios so they can get something out quick should England have managed it. Alas they did not and were well beaten.

    Nothing more than that, anyone inferring more from this is just stirring, rather weakly.

    Croft for lions. NZ to bottle it in RWC quarters or semis.

  • Comment number 65.

    I've had enough of this s**t about the Celtic Nations raising their game to beat England!

    It is nothing other than a childish attempt at making excuses for and trying to find some solace in English defeats by portraying yourselves as having to confront a series of superhuman opponents.

    Take your beating like a man and recognise that it is not the Celtic Nations that put you on a pedestal but yourselves,your media and your capacity for rushing to an over inflated and without real substance opinion of your own ability.

    And when you do it with the regularity with which England do it, is it any wonder that we spend our sporting lives trying to take you down a peg or two in the hope that you might finally learn the lesson - yes sometimes you are better than us and sometimes you are worse.But when you ARE better will you for **** sake stop shoving it in everybody's faces. That's what really p****s people off so much.

  • Comment number 66.

    thefallenreds is absolutely correct in saying the majority don't deserve this type of story. It's the same way that the minority of the UK press/media hype up any team where there is an opportunity to succeed. All the countries need each other to push them further and gain success at any sport. No country has any given right to "lord it" over any of the others. At some point, what goes around comes around, as the link shows.
    I want each of the home nations to be strong in rugby but also be humble with the responsibility it brings. Currently can't say that about them all.

  • Comment number 67.

    65 - erm, OK, take a chill pill.

    England were well beaten by Ireland and did not deserve to win the grand slam. Ireland played fantastically, and seemed to want it more right across the park. I think most England supporters, like me, are just relieved that we're slightly better than the last few years, when mostly we've been pretty much lamentable. OK?

  • Comment number 68.

    The RFU and England players getting involved in the making of an ad depicting their assumed 2011 Six Nations Grand Slam success is nothing new. The vast majority of English fans are down to earth and realistic rugby fans. Unfortunately, for them the RFU, certain players and most importantly the media oooze smugness.

  • Comment number 69.

    Rather than think about Lions, I think world cup squads are more relevent. I dont think the England squad will change to much. Additions I'd like to see would be:

    Manu Tuilagi, Dave Attwood, Delon Armitage, Matt Stevens, Charlie Sharples, Shane Geraghty, Will Skinner. Last but no means least a certain Mr Cipriani.

    I'd at least like to see a few of these invovled in the world cup warm ups. Any thoughts on other players you'd like to see - not just the England squad but any country.

  • Comment number 70.

    Dear Bitter Scots, Irish and Welsh



    England won the Six Nations.





    You didnt.







    enough said.

  • Comment number 71.

    .....the England "Grand slam champions" video is v funny though.

  • Comment number 72.

    Dear Mr Murdoch, please add "mcfwinn" to the minority of the UK press & media who think there's only one team/story in town.
    England deservedly won the championship and allowed mcfwinn his 15 minutes of fame.
    Let's move on from this nonsense, we're bigger than this.

  • Comment number 73.

    mcfwinn... think you sour grapes at not winning the GS is more evident than any perseved bitterness from Celtic nations.

    #65. hits the nail on the head.

  • Comment number 74.

    Shame about the vidoe being leaked. Nevermind though we can always change it to 2012 and use it for next years Grandslam Victory instead.

  • Comment number 75.

    Think mcfwinn must be a football fan judging by #70

    You won and played some very impressive rugby in your first 4 games and the 6N needs a strong England to help inspire us downtrodden Celts reach the heights of English immortality!!

    Unfortunately I don't see a Northern Hemisphere side winning the WC in 2011 because everyone was missing that 'killer instinct'............... and the timing always favours a SH side because they come into the tournament off the back of their regular season whereas 99% of NH players have had a summer of training and conditioning and no 'real' match practice.

  • Comment number 76.

    Spot on 74.

  • Comment number 77.

    Number 74.................... I'd hold the date until you've got 5 wins....... modern technology will allow the dvd to be out the next day anyway............ no point in getting embarrassed again!!!

    Somewhere in Cardiff I'm sure the WRU have got boxes of GS videos (yes videos it's that long ago! ha ha!!) and T-shirts............... we can all be confident but save the cockiness for the final whistle............ remember Wembley 1999 and Scott Gibbs??

  • Comment number 78.

    Getting embarresed. Not sure winning the Six Nations is an embarressment. Its not like we went from potential winners to forth.

  • Comment number 79.

    Thanks for all your replies and contributions throughout the Championships. Apologies for delay in replying but we appear to have had a few technical issues.
    Anyway...

    Re: No 3) andy_j_jackson and No 9) Lewis Wiltshire. Thanks Ed. It’s been a long seven weeks.

    Re: No 14) JPFC. On the basis of this year’s Six Nations, yes, I’d say Hartley is in pole position to be the Lions hooker. Or at least in the squad. Who would your choice be? If Jerry Flannery gets fit and returns to form for Ireland, he will be in the shake-up, as will Matthew Rees, who did a good job last time. But two years is a long time in international rugby.

    Re: No 17) firebladefury Cueto may not be a prolific try-scorer anymore but that’s not the sole job of an international wing these days. He was still very consistent for four matches – like a lot of England players.

    Re: No 23) cheeseisthedevilswork. If you look again, the 'class act' actually follows a line on Tommy Bowe, who it was intended to refer to. I’d say they both bring a touch of pizzazz to their respective teams, and could be the two Lions Test wingers in 2013.

    Re: No 27) RUCKOFFRAMSEY. Fair enough, 'throughout' was maybe the wrong word when it came to Foden’s consistency, but I still stand by my choice. Masi only played full-back in Italy’s last two games, he was on the wing for the first three, but certainly had a strong tournament. I don't think five players from the champions constitutes English bias. They did win it after all.

    Re: No 30 mixed bag. Agree, Lydiate had a fine tournament, just such a strong area of competition. But Wales have certainly found two flankers with the physical attributes to contribute with some of the world’s best. Bodes well for RWC.

    Re: no 46) saints1978. I don’t doubt that Tom Croft, if fit, will indeed be in the Lions squad, but as I mentioned, this wasn’t who I think will be in the Lions XV in two years´ time, but who might be if you were picking purely on the strength of this year’s Six Nations. And Croft only came on twice as a replacement, even if he did impress when he did. There’s going to be some stiff competition for those Lions back-row places…just think of the blind-side options already…Croft, Ferris, O’Brien, Lydiate, Wood…

    Re: No 52) george1979 and No 58) ExiledInReading. Quite agree that all being well, Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones will give us two highly experienced props for the Lions in 2013. But as I said in the blog, the team I came up with was just based on players involved in this Six Nations.

  • Comment number 80.

    Mike Ireland (post 65)

    See my earlier comment - number 42.

    Straight from the horses mouth.

  • Comment number 81.

    80. Why do you think that Michael Johnson and his charges agreed to make a 2011 Six Nation Grand Slam Winners DVD with the main sponsor?

    Would it have anything to do with the fact that they did not think Ireland would managed to stop the juggernaut?
    Certain quarters of the English sporting world - especially the RFU - have somewhat iritated their opponents down through the years. So it is little wonder that any victory against them is celebrated to the hilt?

  • Comment number 82.

    Re:79. Fair do's Bryn-lar. 7.51am is early doors for me and I skim read over the 'based on 6 nations performances part'! I think the key to success on the Lions tour will be keeping a first choice pack fit. Croft,Lawes, Heaslip, Grey, Jenkins..... we should have the edge there. Their backs are quicker and more creative and ruthless than ours will be.Just a case of starving them of ball.

  • Comment number 83.

    It was an enjoyable but not the most memorable of six nations. It was good to see the emergence of some quality young players amongst the home nations and the re-emergence of some of the more experienced Irish players.

  • Comment number 84.

    Overall, the rugby wasn't brilliant in the tourament. Howver, lets focus on the positives.

    The Flood and Youngs bashing is getting silly. Both played very well in the first two matches. They struggled more against France, Scotland and Ireland, but they are both improving players and growing in authority. Flood's kicking has improved beyond expectation and Youngs offers quick ball from the breakdown for the fist time since 2003. The problem is that teams have worked out that if you blitz the England half backs, then you stunt England's attacking game. The biggest problem is still in the centres, who offer nothing in terms of creativity. If England played a footballing 12 and a strong runner (Manu Tuilagi for instance) at 13, the back three would come into the game more, picking lines off someone other than Flood. It came to a head against Ireland where the halfbacks were subjected to a barrage of Irish grunt in defence and cracked under the pressure. Still, neither Hape or Banahan (who belongs on the wing) offered nothing in terms of relieving the pressure.

    People forget that each time England butchered a grand slam in the early 2000's, questions were asked about members of that team's ability to cut it at test level. I remember Wilkinson getting much abuse about the game in Paris in 2002 where Serge Betsen barely gave him room to breath. This team will come again and will be better for the experience.

    In terms of the world cup, England, I believe, will go far. Semi finals minimum. Ireland... Play like they did on Saturdya, and they will cause anyone problems. Wales... Still too predictable I think. Quarters. France... Could win it. Could go out in first round. I think they'll lose to England in the quarters. Scotland and Italy should be happy with getting out of their groups.

  • Comment number 85.

    Regarding the leaked Grand Slam 2011 video, I'm embarrassed. Embarrassed the RFU felt the need to apologise. Why? Because the (American) sportswear company they use took a marketing gamble that didn't pay off? The gamble they took was pretty small: make a video of some players kicking and passing a ball and stick a caption on the end. If it worked out and England had won, they would have had a strong marketing campaign out in no time, "first" being a big thing in advertising. If it didn't, no big loss financially (especially when compared to Tiger Woods...) and they would bin it or change it. So what's the problem? How long did it take for Ireland 2009 Grand Slam merchandise to come out? Do people not think there is a big box of Wales Grand Slam 2009 merchandise sat gathering dust somewhere? Don't people think that someone has already printed t-shirts with "Manchester United Champions 2011" on them, just waiting to start hawking them on the street the second it becomes mathematically impossible for them to be overhauled by Arsenal? It was marketing pure and simple. Nothing to do with English or RFU arrogance. And I can't believe the players knew what they would be doing would be turned into a Grand Slam video, but even if they did, so what? Firstly they are contractually obligated to do what is required of them with sponsors, and second, as long as they weren't superstitious, I bet they thought it would never see the light of day if they lost. I refuse to believe any of the players or even the RFU thought a Grand Slam was a foregone conclusion. How could anyone who knows anything about rugby. Nike took a marketing gamble and it didn't pay off. Or as it happens it did pay off as it is being played anyway. Nike get their advertising, the RFU, English rugby, and every English person in the history of this earth cops stick for it.

    This week in the space of a few days we've had Trimble's comments being interpreted this way and that with people feeling the need to attack him for being an example of the so-called "Celtic Chip?All Celts hate the English" and now this video is seen as the perfect example of "English arrogance". The situation can be realistically summed up as follows:

    Some English people are arrogant.
    Some Celtic people have chips on their shoulders.
    Most English people are not arrogant.
    Most Celtic people do not have chips on their shoulders.
    The constant sniping, finding fault with the littlest thing, and tirades of this and that are childish, tiresome and just plain boring.

    Who gives a flying fox if centuries ago this happened, or Will Carling said that once, or people in Cardiff said this? At risk of sounding like a hippy, can't we all just get along? Keep the rivalries, give and take the friendly banter, keep the competition but ignore the idiots and forget all the BS that goes with it.

  • Comment number 86.

    Worst game by far was Ireland v Wales. Simply one of the worst games of rugby I have ever seen at international level.

    It is strange that if you end the final game on a high note, that it some how makes up for all the dross that goes before. Ireland were woeful all tournament. A good 40mins against England and apparently they are on the right track. Nope. I am afraid not. Most of the time they served up nonsense.

    #13 - I suspect we have altered to God Save OUR Queen, because we no longer have some empirical take on the world that we are the only ones that matter. There are many queens out there, our Queen is the only one God should be saving - apparently.

    Masi and Sean Lamont should be in the team in place of O'Driscoll (there on historical value) and Foden (who I felt flattered to decieve this 6N - he was solid, but I don't remember him punching holes in defences).

    I don't remember Davies of Wales doing anything to deserve recognition. Lamont moved to 12 for Scotland and was awesome against Italy and in his other games he played.

    Richie Gray was probably the stand out player of the whole tournament for me. You have to go beneath the surface to see what players actually achieve - Gray's stats were better than most. And by stats I don't mean emotional love for the championships leading scorer, I mean actual quality.

    Top 3 performers:

    R Gray
    S Parrise (still drags an Italian team competitively)
    T Domingo (he wins ball like a good openside - something England don't seem to think is needed).

    All 3 would walk into any other team - its just a shame the top two play in the bottom two teams.

  • Comment number 87.

    Bryn,
    Maybe to change the direction of some of this and add even more spice,why don't you pick your worst 15 players/team of the championship?

  • Comment number 88.

    One thing that struck me was the poor standard of kicking from hand by most teams throughout the tournament. I lost count of the amount of times I saw nothing kicks just hoofed down the park.. only to be returned in the same fashion. The South African team enjoyed success at the last World Cup did so because when they had to kick the ball away, they did so into zones where their wingers could contest the high ball or at least put pressure on the recipient. On occasions even the French (a team allegedly renowned for their counter attacking flair) were guilty of this.

    I think that this tournament also exposed a number of weaknesses in the each of the Northern Hemesphere teams.

    The fact that Scotland were competing for a wooden spoon on the final day speaks for itself..

    Wales don't have the runners in midfield to play the expansive game that brought them so much success over the past years..

    Italy are improving, but still a long way off the pace..

    Ireland constantly shot themselves in the foot with poor discipline and looked weak in the set-pieces..

    France don't seem to have resolved the Jekyll and Hyde syndrome of either being outstanding or abysmal..

    England looked young and inexperienced when it came to the crunch.. and apart from Ashton they dont seem to have anyone overly capable of making clean line breaks.

    To sum up.. while some of the games were enthralling the overall standard of rugby was quite poor and I dont believe we have seen any of the teams play well enough to go to the World Cup and be considered genuine contenders. Does anybody actually think that the All-Blacks, Springboks or Kiwis will be shaking in their boots after seeing our teams in action?

  • Comment number 89.

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

  • Comment number 90.

    Just in response to Comment 13, I think you'll find that England does not have a national anthem, they use the UK/Commonwealth anthem "God Save the Queen", as they are representing neither in this competition I find it baffling why they persist in singing it.

  • Comment number 91.

    it was a great tournament for england , competition was really won the previous week against scotland.
    the huge points different meant it was nearly impossible to overturn.england need to build on this.
    expect england to do well in world cup.

  • Comment number 92.

    #89 - Don't you know that the Irish team consists of players from Eire and Northern Ireland, which *is* a part of the UK (England is a part of that too)

    Seems the ignorance and arrogance just can't get shaken off some people.

  • Comment number 93.

    #89 , you will never understand the irish.
    they have such a huge opinion of themselves that you really wouldn't want to go there.
    ireland is not a part of britain which was his original point.

  • Comment number 94.

    Its very disappointing to see the sheer number of misguided comments and ridiculous generalisations that pollute these blogs.

    One of the most endearing qualities of the 6 nations is the spirit it is played in, the rivalries and the fact that different sets of supporters can support their sides but after the final whistle be able to mingle freely with the opposition fans and enjoy the day ot without any trouble other than friendly banter.

    Yet these internet forums are populated heavily with such bitterness and laughably ignorant generalisations about other countries that I wonder are these the actual fans I witness out during the games? Its such a poor and innaccurate reflection of the competition and what its about.

  • Comment number 95.

    Agree totally with JoeDavisRoach ..
    Very surprised to hear the kicker being booed in Dublin - also a bit disapointed. Maybe they are letting football supporters into the new stadium :-)

  • Comment number 96.

    @89 that was bit bitchey dont you think !

  • Comment number 97.

    england were the best side in the competition and the rest were a poor second.
    that said there is a huge gulf between the northern and southern hemispheres, with only possibly france and england able to compete.
    the world cup will probably be all southern hemispere affair.

  • Comment number 98.

    How on earth can you claim that everyone was a poor second to England. Scotland and France both could have beat England and let themselves down at Twickenham.
    Ireland ripped England apart with an intensity that we usually see from an All Black test.
    Yes England deserved to be crowned Six Nations Champions based on points accrued. Were they head and shoulders above everyone else... most certainly not.
    If England had dispatched Ireland in the manner in which Ireland dealt to them then I'd say they had put down a strong marker for this years World Cup. However, that was not the case, they were infact dismantled in such a manner that I think they will struggle to make it past the QF if they make it out of the group stages.

  • Comment number 99.

    #85, really well said!
    Can some of the muppets on here read particularly the last section, and talk about rugby?
    Duxbux and redrose56 particularly.

  • Comment number 100.

    What I find disappointing is the level of england bashing going on. The table does not lie (they never do) england were the best side over 5 games,which is what this tournament is all about.They came up short in one game as every other team did in at least one game. The Glam slam video has nothing to do with the englan team or fans. Its a corporate/sponsor thing. To label the english arrogant based on this is laughably playground!
    I for one was not surprised that there was no grand slam.I called at the start that there would not be a grand slam for anyone, as I feel there won't be next year or the year after. The sides are too evenly matched as this years results proved.
    I understand that there was much glee for some at Ireland dismantling england in Dublin, but lets get real. We were consistently th best side in h tournament which is why we lifted the 6 nations trophy at th end. We did a job on Wales in Cardiff, ran riot against an italian side who later proved good enough to defeat France, moved up a gear to get past France and got past Scotland despite a patchy and error strewn performance. We came up short against Ireland. Simple. Its a shame as they brought their A game, we didnt. It could/would have been a fascinating game if we had. We are a very young side who struggled when put under extreme pressure in a masive game against a very experienced and savvy side who had a roaring cauldro of a crowd behind them. They don't become bad players overnight nor a bad team. Dublin was a bad day at the office, we all have them. They will individually and collectively learn and move forward. We won't win the world cup, certainly not but we will be contenders as in the previous two if our key players stay fit. Johnson's experience in these WC environments will help us alot. I think we'll amke the semi's after that who knows......

 

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