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Lancaster's perfect pitch

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Tom Fordyce | 19:46 UK time, Sunday, 11 March 2012

Everyone gets anxious before job interviews. After England's thrilling 24-22 win over France in Paris on Sunday afternoon, Stuart Lancaster might feel rather more confident about his next one.

You can imagine the first question after England's caretaker coach sits down in front of the five-man panel who will decide the identity of England's permanent coach: "So, Stuart. What qualities do you think you bring to this position?"

"Well... I've just orchestrated a heart-stopping win over the World Cup finalists on their own patch, pulled off by a team of inexperienced newcomers against vastly more experienced opponents, just a few months after they ended the reign of my predecessor.

"I've done it in a stadium where the opposition had only lost one Six Nations match in their last 17 and not since 2008, with a starting XV that was giving away 426 caps to the hosts, despite being down to 14 men - possibly unfairly - for 10 minutes at a critical point in the game.

"That means I've won all three of my away games in the Six Nations, the first time any England coach has done that in the tournament's history.

England coach Stuart Lancaster

England caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster (centre) has been a hit with England's fans Photo: Getty

"I have also, if the reaction of the supporters at the Stade de France and on BBC blogs is anything to go by, made people excited about the England team again, and brought contentment and commitment back to the squad itself.

"I've given untried tyros their international debuts in big pressure matches, at a time when most coaches would have played it safe, and been rewarded by watching them blossom into the sort of players who could sparkle in the side for years to come.

"Oh yeah - I've been in charge for only two months, I've done this without a multi-million pound contract and the media seem to like me. Next question?"

Back to reality. This was by no means a faultless performance from England. After a hugely impressive first quarter, a combination of indiscipline, immense French pressure and some interesting decisions from referee Alain Rolland opened a door that more streetwise sides would have slammed shut.

Eleven penalties conceded, to just four from Les Bleus, created its own problems. At times England could have played a smarter tactical game, kicking for territory rather than opting to run or rumble with every scrap of second-half possession.

Had Francois Trinh-Duc's horrible wobbler of a drop-goal attempt in the penultimate minute not fallen under the crossbar then all the effort and improvement would have been for naught, just as critics could argue that better Scottish finishing and half-decent Italian kicking could have cost them those victories last month.

England's Tom Croft bamboozles Aurelien Rougerie

Croft of England bamboozles France's Rougerie before running in his second-half try Photo: Getty

Yet win they did, against significant odds and in the most testing of circumstances, in the process answering more of the questions that had been asked of Lancaster and his young revolution.

Coming into the match England had scored just two tries all championship, both of them charge-downs, fewer than any other side. Not only do they lack creativity, came the criticism, but they are playing not to lose rather than to win.

Two tries in the first 15 minutes, both of them beauties, countered that accusation. Tom Croft's rampaging match-winner with 10 minutes to go went further still.

Perhaps we should have expected it - only once in their last 11 Six Nations meetings have England failed to score a try against France - but after just three line-breaks in three matches, the three in short time on Sunday were timely validation of the coaching team's credentials.

Against Wales England were undone in the last five minutes, the win stolen away from them by a smarter side who knew how to win those sorts of nervous nail-biters.

A fortnight later they stood firm. Seven days ago France had come back from 17-6 down at half-time to snatch a draw with Ireland. Tireless tackling (111 to France's 59) and Croft's rampaging run ensured that there would not quite be a repeat.

In Croft England had the outstanding player on the pitch, even allowing for the usual indefatigable display from France skipper Thierry Dusautoir. At the line-out, in the loose and at the breakdown the Leicester flanker was immense, back to his Lions form of 2009 with a snarling vengeance.

Alongside him in the back row Ben Morgan was similarly dynamic, but the pack as a whole were unrelenting and undaunted until the late injury to replacement Phil Dowson robbed them of balance.

Manu Tuliagi punched holes, Brad Barritt filled them. Lee Dickson kept the delivery fast and snappy, Owen Farrell's kicking composure and decision-making with ball in hand once again belied his years. That it came amid one of the more controversial displays from Rolland adds further gloss.

Refereeing at the top level is an unforgiving pursuit. But in deciding to overturn a free-kick to England and hand a kickable penalty to France for Chris Ashton's minor contretemps with Aurelien Rougerie he left experienced observers scratching their chins, and to sin-bin Charlie Sharples for a deliberate knock-on having moments earlier just warned the impressive Wesley Fofana for the same offence made little logical sense.

Lancaster could afford to be diplomatic afterwards. By then he and his team had enjoyed a lap of honour in front of the delighted travelling support. "If you'd told me 10 years ago when I was teaching PE that I'd be doing that," he said afterwards, "I'd have bitten your hand off."

He may have to get used to it. Nick Mallett was supposed to be nailed on for the permanent role. He has vastly more experience of top-flight coaching than Lancaster, more honours, a track record like few others.

Lancaster is still just four games into the job. A lot can still go wrong from here. Should Ireland win at Twickenham next week, England could yet finish fourth in the championship, a year after they won the thing. Suddenly progress might look a lot more like regression.

But let's ask ourselves a theoretical question: if Mallett had taken over in January and produced the same turnaround as Lancaster and his lieutenants Graham Rowntree and Andy Farrell, wouldn't he be hailed as a masterful man-manager and tactician?

Instead, if he were to come in now, he would have to impose his own culture, playing style and personnel on the squad - all of which might be completely different to those of Lancaster. Rather than being the safe bet he might gradually be appearing more of a gamble.

Mallett, we are told, has already had his interview. He has the longer CV. But the recent entries on Lancaster's are looking increasingly persuasive.

Comments

Page 1 of 6

  • Comment number 1.

    Brilliant performance. We should definately be keeping Lancaster, as he looks to have started something, that, with a bit more work and discipline, could turn into a brilliant England side for the future. Let him continue what he started.

  • Comment number 2.

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

  • Comment number 3.

    Cracking performance.

    Gave far too many penalties away but given the experience of the French pack compared to us its understandable. Needs to be improved for next week though.

    Tuilagi is just brutal, love it. Morgan will keep improving and will make the no.8 his own in the next few years, loved the offload for Foden's try. Dickson and Farrell at half back played really well again. Parling and Croft were great in the line out. Fantastic to see Croft show what he can do at the end, his form hasn't been good enough for a while in my opinion but today he was awesome.

    Lancaster has done superbly well however I still think Mallett will get the job and I just hope Lancaster stays as part of the set up.

  • Comment number 4.

    What a cracking game! Well done England! As a Welshman I hope we can show the same passion next week to get the win against les blues. Croft was excellent, as were tuilagi and barritt. Very early days but looks like some decent progression being made during this competition.

    I'm sure english fans will be pleased o see that the near miss against wales has een been built upon and some real grit shown in the last few mins by the whole English team. Very much looking forward to the Ireland game from a neutral perspective, will be a good indication of quite how far this English team has come.

  • Comment number 5.

    First off: Haha U14538189!!!!!!! Classic!

  • Comment number 6.

    Lancaster has to stay. Gritty wins against Scotland and Italy, a narrow but still impressive loss against Wales and a win over France add up to a decent campaign already.
    The error count is down (allowing for the "referee") and there seems to be real passion there. Keep going i say!

  • Comment number 7.

    have to congratulate the team on a really good performance on the whole and certain players were outstanding notably tom croft. abit of an injustice and sour grapes from the french tv as he was by far the oustanding player.

    If sharples attempted intercept was deemed a yellow card offence , surely george north should have been cited for his deliberate knock on in the last match !!!!.

    allain roland actually conspired to ruin a tightly balanced and intriguing game , i'm almost feeling a slight bit of sympathy for Wales now after his world cup shockers.

    for me the worries are after farells miss england almost turned into france ,the high penalty county and pontless kicking game crept back, the wings were anonymous again apart from the yellow card and ashtons superb hit on the french hooker (no i cant spell szarzewski!!) and the subs brought nothing to the party and are a gulf away from the first 15 it's quite worrying the lack of quality in depth my evidnece for this is the 35-0 whitewash the saxons got ,wasnt lancaster the coach of this team until a short while ago ???
    what more experience over messrs robinson, ashton and johnson does stuart lancaster bring if the rfu go down the lancaster road we will inevitably have made the same error for a fourth time .
    however i dont think stuart should be removed from the coaching staff as thomas castignede said have mallet and lancaster besides if the rfu have any decency he should be able to return to his post prior to becoming interim coach maybe he should concentrate on making the saxons the best "b" squad then after the 2015 world cup maybe he should be considered depending on what the ful time coach desides to do after that competion.
    the Gamble as tom puts it was by the RFU not making someone full time coach prior to the six nations 2012 so england stood a good chance of defending the championship they won last year rathr than appointing someone other than stuart lancaster and besides now let us not forget what nick mallet did with italy and that win over france.
    i'm for Nick mallet for the elite squad and sturt lancaster for the saxons then hopefully we can get some of the strength in depth that sides like Wales and Ireland have.
    to end on a positive yet again england have beaten a top 5 side and away too there was something of the spirit of the telstra about this perfomance and it should rightly go down as one of the great "Le Crunch" matches i'm quite looking forward to the Ireland game now although they tend to be our bogey team.
    still it should set up a good game at the millenium stadium after all france saved their best game of the world cup for the final so maybe they will treat the welsh to a similar performance and before the butler and davis fans invade this blog i should remind them that even if they win a third grand slam england and france have both won more six nations titles

  • Comment number 8.

    It's hard to see what more Lancaster could do to earn the job full time.

    The clamour in some quarters for Nick Mallet is misplaced in my opinion. His significant coaching achievements were a long time ago when placed in the context of the constantly evolving field of top level coaching.

    As the man responsible for playing Mauro Bergamasco at scrum half I'd question whether he's the guru some make him out to be.

  • Comment number 9.

    Martin Johnson was treated unfairly. If you ignore the off field controversies (blown way out of proportion by this country's uniquely unsupportive media) then the World Cup campaign was hardly an embarrassment. We won all our group games, including two tough matches against Argentina and Scotland before losing to the eventual finalists. This came on the back of a 6 Nations triumph with what was described as a young, exciting team. Only in England would this result in a complete overhaul of management and personnel. Wales were meanwhile lauded despite beating only one team of note, Ireland, and losing against all three of the other major sides they played.

    Lancaster has done a decent job and I believe he should get the role on a permanent basis. However, look at the facts. We are a worse team than we were a year ago, albeit with potential to improve. One narrow victory against France doesn't change that. English rugby/ sport in general is being held back by our hysterical, overly expectant, vitriolic, bandwagon jumping press.

    You Tom are one such bandwagon jumper.

  • Comment number 10.

    With all this talk of experience, it's worth remembering that if the RFU stick with Lancaster then come 2015 he will have had *more* international experience than Nick Mallett (and for that matter Jake White) had when taking South Africa to their respective first World Cups. They were good coaches to be sure, but they'd have never made it onto the international scene if they had been passed over for someone with a more impressive international CV.

    England already lost one sane and humble coach in Brian Ashton, they shouldn't set about losing another one.

  • Comment number 11.

    Just what we needed after the loss against Wales! France were great in parts, but we held on!
    Acorss the feild we had awesome preformances. Farrells hit on Harinordoquy was immense. Maybe proof that rugby isnt just about the big guys even in the contact!
    3 amazing tries, great finishing from Tuilagi and Foden and Croft finally finding some space and exploiting his pace!

    As has already been said our ill discipline almost cost us. Would help if we went into contact in 2s more often. I am confident these issues will be sorted out.

    I said before the start of the tournament I would expect 2 wins, 3 and I would be very happy! Also hoped that we wouldnt get a stuffing from Wales. So this team has surpassed what i expected, and I really feel we can beat the Irish next week!

    It would be a really bad call to let Lancaster return to the Saxons. What more can he do to show he is made of the right stuff?

  • Comment number 12.

    "If you'd told me 10 years ago when I was teaching PE that I'd be doing that," he said afterwards, "I'd have bitten your hand off."

    What a great quote! Lancaster deserves the job on that alone.

  • Comment number 13.

    Lancaster definitely is the right man for the job, his tactical acumen was clear to see.

    As a frenchman, I was dismayed by the french selection. They have a team of runners, with a kicking fly half (who wasn't very good) but replaced him with a runner when they needed a kicker at the end. The best french forwards (Servat, Nallet) are left for the power play at the end, but this is a woeful tactic. Scotland and Ireland might have nearly crumbled under pressure, but England were unlikely to. I have the highest regard for Saint Andre, but he has not hit the ground running. Even gift with the Clerc injury, he chose to move Fofana out wide rather than the converted winger Rougerie, who was having a shocker (and can't pass). A Mermoz Fofana combination with their angles of running could have caused problems. It wasn't used.

    However Lancaster by contrast has made all the right calls. Youngs has gone (Ashton needs to next game), no un-necessary substitutions (keep your best out there) and a clear tactical head (france are weak close in as their back row cover wide) which identified and ran through the right areas at will. He has hit the ground running, has absolute the right attitude to discipline and cares deeply for Rugby, not just winning. If England don't grab him and give him 7 years (like Woodward) then they are making a huge, huge mistake.

  • Comment number 14.

    @ no9 oleblade: Agree with you first paragraph, the rest I would say is slightly off the mark. A narrow win over France is a big deal. Your press comments are fair, but I think all Tom is saying is Lancaster has done all he can to get thr job!

    @7 firebladefury: I dont think Rollaind conspired to ruin the game, he just made some bad calls! If Sharples deserved to be sin binned, so did Fofonna. Both were penalites in my eyes as they both went for the ball one handed, neither were a slap down, and both happened on the half way line (didnt stop a try).
    As for the wings, we barly shipped the ball out to them. Too often we hit inside ball to Morgan, Barritt, Botha......we need to start stretching the defences and getting Sharples and Ashton out wide in space with ball in hand.......cant really blame a winger if the ball isnt passed to them!

  • Comment number 15.

    A good performance but.....

    Barritt still isn't doing a great deal going forward. He does defend like a Trojan though.

    Dowson isn't the right man for the bench, he doesn't have enough of an impact to be a decent sub.

    Ashton still not getting involved enough.

    However it feels a little mean spirited saying that after this performance. Also massive congratulations to the tight five who more than held their own against a nasty French pack.

  • Comment number 16.

    As an occasional observer of the England team for the last few years, I am delighted that Stuart Lancaster has (for me, with no knowledge of club rugby) come put of the blue as a brave young manager.

    His players are young and hungry and he inspires empathy and passion in his media interviews. He is genuinely likeable and I really think that he can do a job.

    Sometimes, all the interviews in the world won't deliver the X factor that a national team requires. Stuart Lancaster has been fearless and made the most of this opportunity. If he gets the job on a full time basis, then he'll feel empowered to continue with this positive approach to the game.

    The funny thing is that in hindsight, Martin Johnson seems like a dyed-in-the-wool old boy. The way he was always a little better and smarter than the interviewers and came across as being, frankly, a little condescending.

    Well in the end, he fell short and his legacy is that he recognised it as everyone else did. He also shone a spotlight on how good Brian Ashton was and we took him for granted...

  • Comment number 17.

    I agree, Lancaster should be given the England manager job permantly as he has done a remarkable job. He is home grown and knows all the players to pick and has great vision. There is obviously real respect from the players and the performance on the field from the start of the championship to now is showing what he wants the players to do and to achieve. The attitude has changed for the better and is extremely positive. Why rock the boat and make a change as another manager will want a different set up in support coaches and not know the players like Lancaster does. I say offer the job to Lancaster and his team as I think we will only get better and better....

  • Comment number 18.

    Really impressed with Croft and the platform given by the scrum especially Morgan. Ashton was close to stupidity by we now have some fantastically quick wings so perhaps he can be dropped until his big head stops him trying to give games away.

  • Comment number 19.

    @15 Agree about Dowson. Not really a great player to come off the bench. Wouldn't suprise me to see Tom Wood on the bench next week. Didn't see the game today but I see he started for the Saints and he would probably have been captain if it wasn't for his foot injury. I would like to see Jonny May take Brown's position on tht bench too. Can cover wing and full back which at the moment means we would have the option to take Ashton off when hes having a shocker.

  • Comment number 20.

    What Lancaster and his team have achieved in the space of 10 weeks is remarkable. No doubt the RFU will now sack the Englishman and in one foul stroke once again destroy the culture. They will then appoint a couple of foreigners. And the sorry cycle will continue. Lancaster has proved his credentials, started building toward the future so must be retained. Unfortunately he won't be. No matter what the results next week.

  • Comment number 21.

    Great performance apart form the penalty count of course. It was a real heart in mouth match, and I think that we deserved to win the game. It was a bit scary how France came so close to winning though, and I thought we deserved to win against Wales as well, so it was really good that we hung on today. The Lancaster situation is so debatable.... It's impossible to tell really if England's success has more to do with the players than the coaching, obviously Lancaster can't be that bad with what England have achieved, but the truth is that if we stick with Lancaster and things start going down hill from here then it will be looked back on as a terrible decision. If we put Mallet in charge, it is probably a conservative thing to do, the safer option, but he may be able to get even more out of the team. Let's face it, if Lancaster can get this much out of the team, then its quite likely that Mallet will be able to get more out of them. I personally think its about time that the person with the best CV gets the job, Lancaster, as it was with appointing Johnson, is too much of risk.

  • Comment number 22.

    Great England performance. How could Lancaster not keep his job after beating (on paper) the worlds number two. Not pleased with yellow card.

  • Comment number 23.

    willywonka: Half a coaches job is picking the right men, and Lancaster has been very brave in his Choices! Dropping Flood and starting Farrell at 10 for one!
    What has Mallet acheived that proves he could get more out of this team than Lancaster? One win with italy over France?

    The RFU has to stop looking into the past and look to the future!

  • Comment number 24.

    All this Ashton banging is a joke, his tackle got us the first try. Yes he made a mistake in going into Rougerie but in no means did he have a bad game. He had too much of a good start and now is getting bashed for that. He is by far our best winger and today he could of had a try if it wasn't for being taken out off the ball in our first attack.

    Dowson should not be anywhere near the England team and that's coming from a Saints fan. He is a good club player but has not been playing 8 often for Saints over the years. Wood and Clark played today for Saints and they were both awesome. Personally I would like to see Clark come in for Robshaw as he is a proper number 7 and is young with a bright future. Robshaw isn't as good as Wood either.

    On to the game, we played brilliantly and at times I thought we had bottled it. Croft was immense and I though our whole pack were brilliant.

    If it had been Ashton sin binned, I bet there would be one big hate brigade going on here.

  • Comment number 25.

    SaintsFTWw: Couldnt agree more. Wingers need to be brought into the game. Ashton thrives off running off the shoulder of people who ahve made breaks, in the first 2 games that just wasnt happening. He could have easily been stood in Tuilagis place and scored instead of him, and then everyone would be praising him. Would like to see him and Sharples start next week and England look to get the ball in their hands more!
    Feel very sorry for Sharples. Hopefully we dont let his talent go to waste!

  • Comment number 26.

    england deserve all the plaudits they are getting today....a thouroughly deserved win...despite rolland's best efforts to come to the aid of his fellow french passport holders once again.....and im sure if he could have got away with giving a red card against sharples he would have. ...but with a try count of three to one anything but an engalnd victory would have been a travesty. Lancaster certainly cant do much more to press his case for the coaches position on a permanent basis...surely victory over england's 6 nations nemesis next week will make it very hard for the blazers at twickers to bring in an outsider.

    fireblade fury you can keep your 'titles'...we'll certainly be glad to have three grnad slams in 8 seasons thankyou...just ask dallaglio how much a grand slam means....his one big regret being he didnt win more.....england only winning one grand slam since 1995 of course. Also dont go pinnig any hopes whatsoever on france producing their 'world cup final form' next saturday... ( er ddint they lose the final by the way?) france are clearly shot to pieces...and its very hard to see them stopping us winning next saturday given the disarray they are in and the fact they have nothing to play for....while we have the prospect of another grand slam within reach and we do so want revenge for what happened in the world cup semi....

  • Comment number 27.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 28.

    I get a bit brassed off when I read comments like '.... better Scotland finishing and half decent Italian kicking could've cost them those victories last month'. The game is not played on if, buts and maybes, but hard facts. Scotland have strung together however many passes and had how much territory and for what???? England, and every other side, will tell you that they could have won any game 'IF' this or that had happened.

    I think England have done really well this year and have exceeded most peoples forecasts. IF it hadn't been for referee's interpretation of the rules on previous outings, then it could be a different story........Another IF, again.

    Mr Lancaster has done a brilliant job, when you look at the off field carry-on that was evident after The World Cup. He took a punt with so many changes, but by and large, they have proved good calls. There appears to be a good team spirit about the place now and it would be a shame if he was sidelined now.

    It was a really good game this afternoon and the best team, I thought, won.

    By the way, my Missus thinks 'ooh, that bloke in the blue shirt, number 2, is really gorge'........Yes, quite

  • Comment number 29.

    I really enjoyed the game today and it was great to watch England come away with a win! I however feel the hype about this team should be toned down a little. The" Welsh at the world cup were criticised for not closing out games against teams they "weren't expected to beat". Now this Welsh team are treated as a finished article and England should be let off for the Welsh knowing how to close out the game and scrape a win.

    That said, I think this current England side has more potential than that Welsh side and were the caps reversed I think this England team would have won at Twickenham.

    I'm particularly excited about this England side and coaching set up going forward. With Lancaster, Farrell and Rowntree we seem to have three defined coaches each bringing something to the table. Farrell's rugby league background looks after defence and the backs. Rowntree looks after scrummaging and the forwards. Lancaster sees the big picture... The players themselves are stepping up and I think this squad could do very well if allowed to gel and develop together.

    Here's to another cracker next weekend against Ireland!!!

  • Comment number 30.

    I'll try to keep this as succinct as I can, I have long ranted on this topic so I will try to keep it digestable...

    England is the wealthiest union in the IRB, it has the largest number of players by a huge margin. It should be the dominant force in world rugby. Realistically we have spent the last 9 years being consistently worse than comparatively weaker unions such as Ireland, Wales and Australia. Every year we should expect to win the 6N and be in a position to do so. Not winning should be a poor year. A Grand Slam ought to be a regular occurence.

    We have achieved almost nothing in tha last 9 years. This is a damning reflection on the atrocious stewardship of the RFU. For all of that time I have argued that we needed to bite the bullet and clear out the whole nest, including the coaches, management and older players. In that time we have seen some embarassing performances and one solitary and unconvincing 6N win. The failure was clearly caused by a systematic malaise from top down. The wrong men were put in charge. Robinson you could understand but his failure to rebuild the team effectively and clinging onto the ageing world cup winners meant a decline was largely inevitable. When he went the time was right to use the RFU's vast resources to identify and hire the best manager in the world and the best coaches. There was no excuse then and there has been none ever since.

    Ashton and especially MJ were awful choices, because they were not proven effective international managers. Both clung to the older players too like a comfort blanket. That the likes of Tindall were still playing last year beggars belief.

    We need to consider what makes the likes of New Zealand successful. Th best players are identified by a top-notch manager. When the incumbent is past it they are replaced and the new players are stuck with and bedded in. Australia use this policy and have a huge level of success for their relatively small player base. The likes of Cooper and Genia were poor at first and were shepherded by a positive and well-planned policy. Meanwhile England cast aside the likes of Cipriani and brought back the class of '03.

    Sadly Lancaster has not proven anything yet. It would be perverse to offer him the job right now. Yes it is encouraging but of the four games two were flukey wins, one was inexplicably lost from a position of dominance and one was a strong win. Hardly an incredible CV.

    Please RFU now you've finally stated that a proper internationally renowned and experienced manager will be appointed stick to your guns and grasp the nettle you have failed to take for nearly a decade. No more risk-taking, no more playing to the crowd. Do your jobs and get the best possible team of proven and reliable winners in charge. 9 years of dross is enough, a few false dawns aside. We should be winning year in year out and nothing less will suffice.

  • Comment number 31.

    An excellent performance and good to see Tom Croft returning to Lions form, Foden was also superb.
    Harsh on Ashton, his tackle set up the first try, the penalty after the Foden mark was a joke, every time a scrum ends in a penalty there is a greater amount of pushing between front rows. Allain Roland has taken Steve Walsh's place as the worst ref on the IRB panel. The sin binning is inconsistancy of the highest order, when calculating comparitive penalty counts a coach can only legislate on those that were justifiably given.
    Should Lancaster get the job, No but he should be retained in the England set up, he has done an excellent job but is he able, or experienced to develop the squad from here?

  • Comment number 32.

    3 great tries to Frances 1, a great game. I jumped around like a mad man when Crofty went over.

    However the game was ruined once again by a referee., Alain Rolland should be sacked. He let the crowd and his arrogance make his decisions. What was the difference between Sharples and Fofana. NOTHING. And reversing a decision for a bit of back chat. ITS RUGBY emotions run high, you dont like back chat join a convent. He missed so many calls against the French. But I wont take anything from them. They played really well but it would have been a hollow victory.

    England looked great. Not the finished article but we all know that. Englands young lads beat a team of seasoned professionals by being professional. They did what had to be done and restored pride in the Rose. A great time to be an England fan, it is a new dawn which brings me to my next point.

    Lancaster should stay. He is new to international coaching just like most of our players are new to international rugby. They are all learning together. He is always looking to the future whilst delivering in the now. He has a long term plan and it would be stupid to removing purely to get a big name. Plus he comes across as a really nice guy. He has my support.

    Wales will lose next week. They have not earned the grand slam. They have been gifted their games and overate themselves. France will be seeking to improve and wales are vulnerable - only strong in counter attacks.

    England will win but it will be tough. Ireland are a great team and deliver on the day. Great respect for them and we will all have a pint for St Patricks day after.

    Italy will win but I feel soooooo sorry for Scotland. So much potential led by a coach taking them backwards just like he did with England. Ditch robinson if you want to win. (looking forward to seeing Gray in the premiership. He is a great talent, will turn heads)

    Good luck to all (Not wales) next week

  • Comment number 33.

    England beat France in Paris despite the "efforts" of Alain Roland. He is as incompetent as Steve Walsh; Andre Watson & the IRB ref manager Paddy OBrien - who should have been sacked along time ago. They are ruining games.

  • Comment number 34.

    It pains me to do it, but got to congratulate England today, great team performance and I'm sure the fans will be pleased that they're breaking the gain line and scoring tries. Farrell's been immense fair play.

    I don't think Rolland is an international-class referee, although I may simply still be sore after 'that red'. The IRB certainly like picking him for French games, which isn't fair. I don't care about his parentage, you've got to believe he's unbiased, but simply picking him to officiate in French games because he's bilingual is absurd - Brian Moore had the comment of the day when he said "it just means he gets the calls wrong in two languages'!

    I fear a French backlash next week, especially if Saint-Andre opens his eyes and picks Parra - class act. And I've got to agree with leighrichards - a title's all very well and good but winning on points difference will feel a bit hollow, the Grand Slam is the Holy Grail of the 6N surely?

  • Comment number 35.

    What a game to watch... elation, disbelief, anger, joy, sweats, shivers, relief, more disbelief, warm glows, a sense of foreboding and final sweet release!!!

    With regards today's match, it was very entertaining, even as a England fan! During the game I was living every moment, and yet was relieved that initial luck and poor French half-back and 3/4's decision making allowed us to get 14-3 up rather than English skill or game plan. Then when OF hit the post and JB collected the ball, well... who'd have thunk it, OF missing a sitter!? BUT not to worry, then the pedantic penalty that the 'referee'(..?) gave for a silly push (but well meant.) and then the added three before half time. I wondered if going in at 9-14 rather than 3-17 (admittedly with a few minutes to play, but with two completely different mindsets) whether England could overcome all the French on the field, to which I made it 16 and one had a whistle...
    The second half showed we could and the best thing about the second half, well three really; i) We didn't panic, ii) We took our chance and iii) There weren't the usual dross substitutions that cost us the game against the Welsh. So, I feel we deserved the win and even the missed Trinh-Duc attempted DG was a fair result I feel on balance, the French and their management made their decisions and game plan, and it did nothing to win the game for them; the very rapid escalations of warnings and chats from AR to the English and the subsequent penalties very nearly did.

    As a point here regards Stuart Lancaster, and the games played so far; he has taken the team away three times and come back with six points. He made mistakes regards selection in the first two matches, and fixed those with a settled, and best XV, for the Welsh and French matches. He lost the game against Wales through poor substitutions, he didn't do it today and we won, so he's learnt that. Again today, he has demonstrated he is a canny interviewee, and won't be drawn into saying silly stuff or have words put in his mouth. Plus, he communicates well with the RFU and the ERC and has laid out a plan. So, for what it is worth, if I was with the RFU Selection Board, I would wait and watch until the Irish match and see what happens. Everything else is hyperbole; as mentioned here and elsewhere above, he has proven to be an intelligent, flexible, articulate and canny manager/coach; and he is learning. If given the chance he has three more years to learn, and with the right tours, opportunities and backing he will learn a hell of a lot more too. That much is obvious...

    So, I would suggest a patient watch for the next six days and see how the match goes on Saturday, and then assess the final standings of the championship table and review the performance from there. The RFU do not have to rush into making an appointment until, at the latest, probably early to mid July to allow a new coach, if that decision is made; to prepare a coaching unit and a full team selection and approximately 3 months before the Autumn Tests. A new coach will probably already have in his head an idea of the playing staff so that isn't an issue.

    As an answer as to whether SL should get the job, no bandwagon jumping or knee jerk reaction, see how the next six days go. However, he hasn't done any harm to his application process just yet.

    My final point, Imanol Harinordoquy was MoM as he very, very nearly did enough to sneak it for the french, if TD had kicked the DG he would have been lauded to the rafters... Congratulations to both sides for an enthralling test match, and thank you!

    Namsate

  • Comment number 36.

    Too soon to give Lancaster the BIG job, let's see what happens at Twikkers next week first.
    The main thing on my mind, having watched all 6 nation games so far, is the poor reffing. I know it is a difficult job, but the players on the field and the coaches and management have all got difficult jobs and all their efforts can be distroyed by the ref interpreting the rules differently. The rules are too complicated really, making it more difficult for the ref to make uniform decisions. If Rowlands or Walsh are in charge of an England game you can bet your boots they will show a considerable lack of consistency.
    The instructions at scrums are typical, crouch/touch/hold/engage, too long, it should be crouch/go. This would stop many of the silly and time consuming penalties, and scrub the two syllable engage.
    Come on RFU get your finger out, look at the rules and modify before more refs give up and new players just don't bother because the rules are hard to understand.

  • Comment number 37.

    Not perfect but I will take that win
    There was a worrying dip either side of half time but on the whole great progress.
    Alain Rolland’s performances on the last 4/5 occasions I have seen him are becoming increasingly bizarre. He seems, to have started to think he is the most important guy on the pitch -he was unnecessarily lecturing payers, stopping the game to do it: made bizarre and inconsistent decisions both ways & missed a lot of offside. England marginally lost out on this:
    Well Done England- don't see any need to change Coaches.

  • Comment number 38.

    Isengard................you are what makes people think the English are arogant. Just because we have lots of players doesnt mean we will produce the best players. You should stop focusing on the past and look at what we have and let that become something great,which I think it will!

  • Comment number 39.

    @22.

    Thoroughly agree on both points: SL for boss and the 'deliberate knock-on' décision was odd.

    No England fan thinks suddenly everything is rosy. It'll take SL 3 years to turn promising talent into a genuine world power who constantly compete well in all tournaments.

    IMHO, it'd now be a catastrophe if SL was not appointed. No further need to flatter foreign egos.

    On a négative point, too many penalties. But, if France were poor (static with the first-phase ball in hand) England made them so. Dickson's rapid distribution to forwards capable of gaining ground quickly.

    Remember England were nailed on certainties for the wooden spoon at the outset of this comp.

    Fantastic effort from SL and the Squad. An honorable (and likely) 2nd place behind a very talented Welsh side + historic wins at Murrayfield and SdF. Job done.

  • Comment number 40.

    @denden38: It's crouch/touch/PAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUSSSSSEEEE/engage ;)

    And the IRB make up the rules not the RFU.

  • Comment number 41.

    @ 09 totally agree with your comments and to the poster that thinks great quotes should be part of the role profile brian moores
    "It doesn't matter to me that referee Alain Rolland can speak French. It just means he gets it wrong in two languages."
    should win him the role.
    its the funniest commentators quote ive ever heard!!.
    i think mallet's italy had wins over wales and ireland too besides he has had numerous competitive six nations and international campaigns .
    i'm not suggesting lancaster should loose his job he is / was the saxons coach and is an interim coach of the elite squad which as its name suggests is not a fixed term appointment and is open to others to apply if mallet was not in the frame then somone who has had success at premiership or european level has to be in the frame without being disrespectful haven't his old club side been relegated last season.

    as for allain roland conspiring to ruin the game its a turn of phrase i dont mean he sat in a dark corner with his assistants scheming in the vane of the gunpowder plot although the effects on the game were nearly as disastrous its just they were irrational inconsistant decisions.

    clive woodward only got to the 1/4 final of the 99 world cup but the rfu wasnt in so much turmoil then and he was rightfully given a chance to build upon lessons learnt i feel martin johnson wasnt treated well by the media or the rfu, he was slated at first, then feted when england did the double over the wallabies and won the 2011 six nations then was ambushed throughout the world cup just coz he's not on farcebook or twatter every five mins to the beeb journo's.
    flood wast dropped in favour of farrell he was dropped in favour of hodgson thats not brave just stupidflood is a much better all round 10 than hodgson as he can place kick and tackle as well and given the game he had for leicester an even odder choice besides he's only just come back from injury so no shame in not getting a starting place . weve already had 2 england backroom staff become the head coach choosing a third would be going back to the past.
    i'm not going to get on any ashton out bandwagon either he is one of the quality players in the side who can turn a game and if given some service usually does somethingwith it but he's not likely to see it if the 10 kicks pointlessly out of hand or the opposite 10 is hoofing penalties between englands sticks .
    stuart lancaster has i'm sure done the best job he can with the players available in the timescale given good enough to show potential and be in the frame post 2015 campaign just not right for the now

  • Comment number 42.

    @32 Twickenhamloyal

    Hilarious comment - 'Wales have not earned the Grand Slam' - well, maybe not yet, but if we beat France next week, that's 5 and 0, what more do you want them to do?! I'm sure you'll be on next week if Wales win the GS, with the classic 'Well they shouldve won the GS, all the other teams are in transition'... we've heard it all before in 2005 and 2008! Envy's a terrible affliction old boy.

    Good luck to all (including England) next week!

  • Comment number 43.

    who was the french player in red....

  • Comment number 44.

    Another gutsy performance and that's the three wins I predicted at the start of the tournament. A fourth may be on the cards next week, although I fancy Ireland will have more of a game plan than France did for most of the match today. That's taking nothing from England though as they defended well and took their opportunities to score. There is even a remote chance of the championship.

    I've said before, keep Lancaster as Head Coach, dump Rob Andrew and put an experienced head in above Lancaster to deal with the press, the Committee and other non playing politics (plus Mr Andrew if the RFU still can not remove him). Let Lancaster deal with the squad preparation in an unpressured way as he obviously has the players hearts at the moment. I'm Welsh and even I was happy to see such joy on the faces of the coaching team during the match, it makes such a difference from the dour expressions of his poor predecessors.

  • Comment number 45.

    Re 39.

    Incidentally, to those who want to downplay the significance of England's achievements during this 6N, after the 1st few minutes today we ran France ragged until the the second half. Then we defended with the sort of courage that suggests the team found an extra 10% for SL.

    Brilliant French comeback, as we should expect at the SdF. I live in France and the French press were by no means convinced that this would be a walkover despite the wholesale English makeover.

    Maybe it's just my patriotic running rampant but I think this campaign has already been more significant an achievement than MJ's 6N championship win last year.

    The future is distant but bright.

    Back SL.

  • Comment number 46.

    abit of an injustice and sour grapes from the french tv as he was by far the oustanding player.
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    In the opinion of who? the british?? hardly surprising. I'm not entirely sure why this is considered such a remarkable feat. after all, to the british media and public, unless France score seven tries from 50 metres at every game we are always poor. Furthermore I believe the yellow card, was as combination of several fouls, explained by Rolland top the english captain, and he was already warned about it. And Im fairly certain he was speaking in English, how is it that me and my third language heard this, but no one on BBc did??!?!
    It is true that England did very well against us when they had a sin bin, though one could argue that england only played against 6 men for 40 minutes.
    I dont know why we dont play the first half, maybe they like chaisng the game. I also know that for one meter more altitude, the game would have been ours with the drop goal, so Im no believer that the better team always .
    I think credit has to go to england, but I dont think the better team won.
    Since I think after the only NH team with less to prove after the WC, we have lacked determination, fight, concentration. But how can I not be confident on this team when I see that no matter how bad we seem to play, we should still win the game. Waiting for a shift into third gear now

  • Comment number 47.

    #9 whether we are worse than 1 year ago is open to debate - we may have won four out of five, but faced a far weaker Welsh team, could easily have lost at home to Scotland - we were stuffed at the breakdown, and got a thrashing in Dubiln.
    More imprtantly, we now look like an improving team with a very clear direction, Considering Lancaster had to build the team from scratch (only 4 of todays team started the last WC game), he has done a brilliant job. Not only is the team visibly improving with each game, but the attitude on and off the pitch is way better than it has been in some time - players now look as if they are willing to fight for their shirt, rather than looking as if it was theirs by right.

    Penalty count was a downside (for the first time this 6N), not sure how much of that was down to Rolland who as usual gave us nothing - loved the Brian Moore quote "Rolland may speak English and French, but that just means he gets in wrong in two languages".

    #30, I find your whole post totally bizarre. England didn't cast aside Cipriani, he suffered a serious injury, when he returned he was struggling to oust Dave Walder from the Wasps side, and then cleared off to Australia. If he comes back to the NH, and starts putting in some big performances, he will be back in the frame, but for the moment there are (quite rightly IMO) 4 or 5 10s ahead of him in the queue.

    On the one hand you slate previous managers (with some justification) for clinging on to players on reputation, then slate a manager who has rebuilt the side for the most part based on form. The safe option last time out would have been to recall Flood at 10, instead Lancaster brought in Farrell, who looks an absolute natural at international level. Equally Youngs was dropped after a dip in form, and Dickson has made a huge difference.

    Bringing in a big name coach will certainly not guarantee results. As far as I remember the only World Cup winning coach with previous international experience was Henry, and it took him 2 attempts despite having the most talented squad in world rugby.

    The big problem over the last 9 years has been the constant search for miracle solutions. Robinson was given 2 years, Ashton only got 2 years despite taking England to the World Cup Final, then MJ was brought in as a big name fix, despite a total lack of coaching experience.
    Lancaster may not have coached a national side, but he has been around the Saxons for a long time, and so far has done a decent job with the full side.

    Just one thought, did Morgan go off injured or was it tactical. If he was fit, could England have brought him back as a blood replacement for Dowson - probably not within the spirit of the laws, but Dowson was bleeding when he went off.

    #27 Nobody is claiming England are world beaters, just that they are moving in the right direction. We are still a long way from winning games against the top 3, the only worthwhile measure of the top NH teams. As for Wales winning the slam in 2nd gear, if that is the case why were they collapsing a maul in the shadow of their own posts against England, and then depending on a brilliant tackle and the TMO. They are the best team in the 6N this season, but not be a huge distance. Next weeks game is certainlt not a formality.

    #24 I think you are being a bit paranoid about Ashton. Yes the penalty was harsh (as with Youngs going to the bin in Dublin), but it was still an act oof pure stupidity - absolutely no need to get involved. He was also warned by the ref about talking back - he is a good enough player to not get involved in that sort of nonsense. There have also been a number of Saints games which suggest that his attitude is not right at the moment. On balance he should stay in the England team, but he does need to sort himself out.
    Agree about Dowson though, despite his ability to play across the back row, he is not the player he was 2 or 3 years ago - I suspect Wood will be on the bench next week.

  • Comment number 48.

    BlueBlancRouge:

    So you thin France where the better team today....but at what?

    Because England were the better team at scoring points and hence they won!


    I will be chearing on France next weekend! Always a threat!

  • Comment number 49.

    not sure how much of that was down to Rolland who as usual gave us nothing
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    If there is to be discussion on the ref's game lest not window dress it. Can you then explain to me why Fofana was deemed guilty on a delibrate Knock on??! And, tell you what you dont like rolland for whatever reason, maybe because you see him biased as he speaks french..well listen we have to deal with british refs all the time refereeing games against british teams!

  • Comment number 50.

    @John: I think Ashton being at Saracens will do him the world of good re his temprament!

    @BleuBlancRouge: "If there is to be discussion on the ref's game lest not window dress it. Can you then explain to me why Fofana was deemed guilty on a delibrate Knock on??!"

    The problem with this is that Fofona didnt get a yellow, but Sharples did. Even the most biased ref in the world cant ignore some situations.
    For the record I dont think Rolland was biased, just poor.

  • Comment number 51.

    Also BleuBlancRouge do you realise that 2/3 of the 6N teams are British( or irish but close enough) so you are going to get a lot of British refs to make the mix fair!

  • Comment number 52.

    So you thin France where the better team today....but at what?

    Because England were the better team at scoring points and hence they won!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes I do. As I mentioned Im not a believer that the better team always wins. Otherwise you mean to tell me that your opinions would have changed 180 degrees if the drop goal had been successful?
    Well if we come out and play the first half, then different story, but that's not england's fault. We had much more possesion, completed much more passing, which resulted in more scoring opportunities. If we miss a kick or do a forward pass when a metre from the try line its hardly down to england. Its our mistake. You replay that game ten times, and you have both set of players performing to their best, you have one winner in ten games.

  • Comment number 53.

    Coming from an England fan, am I the only one who thought that it was more a poor French display rather than a good English one which decide the outcome of the match? Yes you can't blame England for taking the chances that France offered in the first 20 minutes, but after that (aside from Croft's solo try) what did England actually do to terrify the French? I note that in one of the other BBC articles, and I quote, "England dazzled", really, and who indeed did they dazzle? The amount of time the French were camped in our 22 does not indicate this, however still a solid defensive display (thank you Mr B. Barritt) when it mattered. Well, aside from Ben Youngs deciding to not follow Parra around the scrum, thus allowing him to set up Fofana for the try, seriously drop him until he hits form, he'll learn eventually. Looking forward to Ireland next week, and thinking England will win purely as the Irish won't have the ability to deal with Tuilagi as shown in the World Cup warm ups.

  • Comment number 54.

    @25 & 25

    I'm not unnessesarily criticising Ashton nor calling for him to be dropped. He is not currently involved in as much work off the ball as he was last season. His support runs aren't happening as often.

    There are signs he's getting back to it, the blocked run at the start of the game and a few times in the second half he was first at the breakdown because he had been running a support line. Given his talents and what he can add when at his best I still want to see more of him. Hopefully if England continue playing like this and improving he will get back to his best.

  • Comment number 55.

    BleuBlancRouge

    That drop goal might have gone over, and then England might have got another penalty/drop goal/ try.

    Ok so France had more possesion territory passed it round loads ran loads of pretty line but for what?

    There is one goal in rugby, out score the oposition.

    If moves, possesion and territory dont come to points then they are wasted!

    Today, England were better at scoring points, so they were the better team. If France had won then I would be saying they were the better team.

    Would you like to see points awarded for pretty passages of play? Maybe a judges panel at the end of the game offering teams extra points?

  • Comment number 56.

    BleuBlancRouge, are you honestly saying that Fofana was actually trying to catch the ball - one handed above his head at full stretch. It was no different to the offence Sharples got a yellow for. Besides, the Fofana decision was given by the touch judge, not by Rolland.

    England were warned about then penalty count, midway through the first half. To invoke a warning for killing the ball at the breakdown 40 minutes later is pushing things. My dislike of Rolland has nothing to do with his ability to speak French, I just don't think he is a very good ref.

    As for the man of the match, Harinordoquy had a fine match, but given the amount of ball Croft won at the lineout, and a superb individual try, I would say that he was a strong candidate. No complaints about that, as all host broadcasters tend to favour their own team when it comes to man of the match - the Italians award it to Parisse before the game even kicks off.

  • Comment number 57.

    Also, Farrell will need to move to 12 eventually once a certain George Ford arrives on the international scene...

  • Comment number 58.

    @53

    Or you could look at it and say were it not for English indiscipline the score would not have even been close.

    Ultimately, England won and everything else is just so much talk.

  • Comment number 59.

    The problem with this is that Fofona didnt get a yellow, but Sharples did. Even the most biased ref in the world cant ignore some situations.
    For the record I dont think Rolland was biased, just poor.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    No, no, no. Mr Rolland said to your captain towards the end of the first half, that there were continuous foul play from england to stop us from playing, and the next one will be a yellow. Now, I heard this, and he said it in english. Next foul is in the second half. Now, your BBc commentator( moore even stated, that Rolland's warning was in the first half), im sorry, no matter how many fouls are committed in the first half, we'll ignore all of them in the second half?
    Lets all aspire to play the game with continuous fouls! I think we should get SH refs for france vs british teams, and I know quite a lot of my italian friends feel the same! Only last week we had to suffer a ref that finished the first half 40 seconds before the end, and failed to produce a yellow for their number 1 that even your commentators said it should have been.

  • Comment number 60.

    @58

    Exactly. England were indisciplined. Their fault, therefore not as good a English performance as made out. Thank you for helping me out with that one...

  • Comment number 61.

    @57

    Maybe, maybe not. A bit of competition never hurt anyone and with the likes of JTH, Waldouck and Twelvetrees competing for 12 I would rather have Ford and Farrell offering different things at 10.

  • Comment number 62.

    #53 QLDReds, arguably France were poor today, but you can only play as well as the opposition lets you. Two weeks ago Wales were poor, this week France were poor - perhaps it is not a co-incidence

  • Comment number 63.

    The ref wasn't just terrible, he was biased!
    The yellow card for the deliberate knock on!!! Why didn't he punish the French guy for exactly the same thing?!
    One of the penalties he gave to France (64th min) he awarded because he said England collapsed the scrum: they didn't - because all bar one player was still on his feet!
    The French try was after he gave France the put in at a scrum when it clearly should have been England's - England had the ball when play was stopped but he said he gave it to France because 'they were on the attack'!!
    Amazing! I don't mind refs who make genuine mistakes, but this guy was clearly helping the French as much as possible.

  • Comment number 64.

    @BleuBlancRouge

    I take it as you didnt address any of my other points you think i am right regarding them.

    Ok I take your point on the yellow. However I still think it was harsh. But I wont moan about it. We didnt leak any points with him off the pitch. We still won.

    Refs have a hard job and will always get something wrong. it would have been even more of a bad call if Fofona had been yellow carded!

  • Comment number 65.

    @60

    And how much of the "poor" French performance was down to aggressive defence from the English and good tactical kicking?

    As far as I can see England played well and won the game because they played better. We weren't perfect or even brilliant but I wouldn't try to undermine the performance by saying we won only because France played poorly.

  • Comment number 66.

    @61.

    I'm not saying Farrell isn't good, in fact I think he has done superbly so far at 10, however Ford is going to be on another level in my opinion. For me JTH doesn't have the distribution skills that an international 12 needs, Waldouck is a 13 and I don't see anyone replacing Tuilagi for the next decade, and I still think Twelvetrees needs to have a lot more consistency throughout his Premiership performances to warrant a place in the EPS, however Farrell ticks both the distribution and consistency boxes.

  • Comment number 67.

    Firstly Stuart Lancaster should be appointed now. Clearly he has got the team playing, and as has been mentioned by 2015 he'll have the same experience as White and Mallett had at their first World Cup. It would be borderline criminal to point Mallett. He has really done nothing for five years and does not know the England game. Lancaster has worked in the England set up for the best part of five years and knows all the players. And lets be honest, if Strettle's try had been awarded as the photos show it should have been then he could well be undefeated.

    I think that ideally we need to replace Dowson on the bench with Tom Wood, and I'd like to see Strettle back as I'm not sure of Sharples defence especially the missed tackle that almost let Bonnaire in. I think we also need to keep Ashton on the right wing has he's clearly more comfortable there. Barritt has in my opinion been excellent at 12, and could well develop into our Jamie Roberts.

  • Comment number 68.

    Ford and Farrell were very impressive at U20s level. Ford looks to be making the step up, so do to Daly, Wade, Benjamin.......add them to what we already have and that is looking very good in the back! Also could Tomkins join his mate Asthon in the white shirt?

  • Comment number 69.

    #57 George Ford looks talented, but he is a long way from the England side. from what I have seen, Burns looks as much of a candidate just at the moment. Ford has enough of a challenge getting game time at 10 for the Tigers.

  • Comment number 70.

    Today, England were better at scoring points, so they were the better team. If France had won then I would be saying they were the better team.

    Would you like to see points awarded for pretty passages of play? Maybe a judges panel at the end of the game offering teams extra points?
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Listen you are entitled to your opinion, and me to mine. Do not think that you're going to convince me otherwise. Was it not this same british public that all said wales deserved to win against france in the WC becasue they played better etc? And I agree, the better team doesnt always wins, I can admit it for or against my team. But I do find this talk of how great and dazzling ?????? england were laughable. I refer you to post 53 for an unbiased view!


    @John, your last paragraph explains it all really. EVERY broadcaster votes for their own. And you may think of Rolland's decision as 'pushing things'. He warned your captain and your team and you probably thought same as you do now. Ok boys lets keep it clean for long enough so the ref forgets it, and then we can start again!! having come off playing against the irish and their penalty counts, you may not feel the sam, but it's tiresome to watch the opposition, two weeks running, just foul, and foul and foul.

  • Comment number 71.

    @62.

    I thought I said this in my original comment, I certainly meant it if that didn't come across.

    @65.

    I said that England defended well, so again thanks for agreeing with my point. Given that we all seem to agree that France played poorly, however we only won by 2 points I can't see any other argument?

  • Comment number 72.

    @BleuBlancRouge

    I take it as you didnt address any of my other points you think i am right regarding them.
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I believe you say in your country, patience is a virtue. And I feel obliged to explain to you that people are entiteed to have different opinions, without necessarily making either right or wrong. Its a way of interpreting things, not a right or wrong issue. dear me.

  • Comment number 73.

    @69.

    I said once Ford arrives, I agree he isn't there yet, but he is only 18. Given 3 years I think he will be the poster boy.

    I also think it will be interesting to see how Joel Tomkins develops at Saracens. Given his league background we know he has the passing abilities as well as running the ball too...

  • Comment number 74.

    Leave off Ashton maybe? A couple of bad things were balanced by some good stuff. His problem is the hype he was given by the media when he first hit the big time. Build 'em up, knock 'em down, the good old English way. Ask his opponents, he's still one of the best out there.

  • Comment number 75.

    BleuBlancRouge

    First off, I don't think England were dazzling, I am just so happy to get a result against France who I think are a very good side, away aswell!

    Second off, I though France deserved to win the SF, Wales bottled the drop goal to steal the match.

    Thirdly I am not talking about opinion. It is fact that England out scored France today. How would you decide who the better team is? What criteria would you be looking at?

    You are right, you are entitled to your own opinion, and I am entitled to challange that opinion.

  • Comment number 76.

    @74.

    I feel Ashton is not playing his best at the moment, but I agree, leave him be. I think he had his best performance of the tournament today. How many times have we seen a winger peak and then become double marked or severely closed down a la Habana, Iaone, and now Ashton.

  • Comment number 77.

    @66

    I certainly agree that Burns looks an exceptional talent but with his running skills I don't see Farrell complementing him that well at 12. A running 12 would probably be a better foil. Potentially move Tuilagi to 12? Who knows, as it is into what looks to be a promising future.

    And yes, Twelvetrees does need more consistency and to play more at 12. Hopefully he'll get the chance at Gloucester as he has the distribution, kicking and the size and pace to be a damn fine centre.

  • Comment number 78.

    @ QLDReds and rossignol: I think the problem with Ashton is that he has been England only strike runner for a long that teams found it easy to mark him out of the game. Now we don't seem to be looking to get him the ball in space.

  • Comment number 79.

    Thirdly I am not talking about opinion. It is fact that England out scored France today. How would you decide who the better team is? What criteria would you be looking at?

    You are right, you are entitled to your own opinion, and I am entitled to challange that opinion.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Yes I understand your joy. Of course I do. There is no greater feeling, for me, than beating the english. And, lets not get into silly discussions about 'what point system,'.

    You clearly feel that in rugby (maybe all of sports) the better team always wins. I do not share that opinion at all. I think sometimes the better team doesnt win. Hence why I argued for 'what if the drop goal had gone in' and that would have been the game. how can that one metre change your opinion of the game you just saw. I think in the WC the better team - in wales - lost, and I think today the better team lost too. and its not an anti-english thing either, there has been enough examples of england beating us and deserving of the win. this was not one of them.

  • Comment number 80.

    @77.

    I cannot say for 100% however everyone seems to be saying that Farrell is slow. Personally, and again I reiterate I cannot be 100% sure, I don't think he is that slow. He is a 20 year old professional athlete. I just feel that his style of play doesn't require him to run, however he has shown brief glimpses of pace (i.e the chip over the top versus Wales). It would mean he would have to learn to adapt his game, however since when was building your game a bad thing?

  • Comment number 81.

    I fully agree that the RFU shouldnt now gamble with the coaches appointment - Nick Mallet is by far the riskiest of candidates!! If Australia or New Zealand were looking for a new coach Mallet (or even White and O'Sullivan) wouldn't even make the short list so I'm dumbfounded as to why many on this message board believe he is the best candidate - why should Enland appoint an average international manager that wouldn't even be considered by the sides we aspire to match..?

    No doubt the Lancaster nay-Sayers will argue Lancaster wouldn't get considered either, correct, but Lancaster has come from within the ranks ( a common strategy at international level) and has an impressive record there, he is an experinced coach unlike Johnston and he has turned England around off field after a nauseating RWC, he has the respect of the players, media and fans and he has worked very closely with all of England's young talent for several years now so knows them better than anyone ... But most of all - he has demonstrated he can create a winning team and a style of play within a few short weeks. I doubt Mallet or anyone else could have done he same.

    Stuart Lancaster now has to be the ONLY choice for the next Coach; any other decision would simply be madness ...

  • Comment number 82.

    Bleublancrouge, your views are not shared by most of my French friends. The selection at 9 and 10 were misguided, maybe borne out of the perennial French fear of an underestimated England. Refs are always judged by the so-called "wronged" party but any impartial observer should have seen that England were punished far more than France for very similar offences. It was a fully deserved victory and France got their tactics very, very wrong, until a few minutes before the end.

  • Comment number 83.

    What on earth are so many people demanding proven international experience for? Woodward, White, Henry, Mallet all won world cups with no previous experience of doing so. What they all did was form a solid team identity, culture and ethos. Lancaster has that in bucket loads. He was also the most successsful B team coach in the world.

    I said at the outset that Mallet would get the job even if Lancaster won the grand slam. Why? RFU spent 500k on a recruiting agency, and they will not go against that spend and stick with a caretaker instead. They are far too self-regarding for that. Mallet coach; Lancaster Saxons proving ground.

    And Mallet will be a disaster. Meatheaded, brutal, percentage rugby at its worst. And no silverware.

    For the first time in nearly 10 years I feel like a supporter of my national side. It feels English. But enjoy this excitement chaps, and remeber this period while it lasts because I garantee you will be lementing the decision to appoint Mallet for many years. This coach and team are going to be one of the great might have beens that never was.

  • Comment number 84.

    BleuBlancRouge

    What is the point of rugby? To score points. Would you agree.

    So the team that does this best (socres the most) surely has to be the best team (on the day).

    If not what is the point in playing?

    If that drop goal had gone over and won the game France would have been better. But TrinDuc (part of the French team) couldn't do it. If he had, that would have improved the French to to being better than England.

  • Comment number 85.

    @80

    I don't necessarily think he is slow, I just haven't seen any of him having the quick feet or running skills to beat players. If however he can add that to his game then that is to his credit and he would deserve any plaudits that came his way.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ rossignol

    Well, your french friends are entitled to their opinions. Yet again I have to xcplain, that difference of opinion is not necessarily a right or wrong issue , rather an interpretation of a personal note. For I can also tell you that some of my english freinds thuguht we deserved the win. Do you speak french, did you listen to any interviews with the french squad? or have you read the reports before the game in french papers? If you had, you would have noted that we never underestimate the english. I think the 9 selection was wrong, but it had to be tested. PSA is in the fortunate position, that French rugby after that WC had less to prove, and he took that opportunity to try different players. some will work, like fofana and maestri, and some will not.
    English were punished more severly because their foul count was far higher. You wiat when England are facing a team that commits more foul and see how enjoyable it is to watch and whether you then think that the committing more fouls should be penalised more?

  • Comment number 87.

    @85 + 80:

    I don't think Farrell is slow, he is just not lightning quick like some flyhalfs and is not a big ball carrier (like Tuilagi or Barritt). I don't think 10s need to be either of these. They are a pivot position mainly. However I would like a 10 to have enough speed to go through a gap when it does open up infront of him!

    Anyone remember Farrells tackle on the Italian back in their 22 after Strettle got "tripped" that dislodged the ball and nearly gave Dowson a try......didnt look slow then!

  • Comment number 88.

    Ok then, apparently Farrell is now considered good but too slow? According to many, so was Wilkinson, a young Cipriani couldn't tackle, there's always a perceived "weakness". Fact is, at such a tender age and with limited experience, he can still make mistakes (he did today, but no more than a much more experienced Beauxis) but is calm enough to bounce back.

  • Comment number 89.

    Still trying to figure out why France were not penalised for hands in the scrum immediately before their try.
    Can't quite understand the carping about the penalty count - 11 is too many but a great improvement on previous seasons!

    Who said England can't attack??

  • Comment number 90.

    BleuBlancRouge

    What is the point of rugby? To score points. Would you agree.

    So the team that does this best (socres the most) surely has to be the best team (on the day).

    If not what is the point in playing?

    If that drop goal had gone over and won the game France would have been better. But TrinDuc (part of the French team) couldn't do it. If he had, that would have improved the French to to being better than England.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We are going round in circles here. Yes the point of the game, ultimately the only way a competition can be created, is to have a winner based on highest point scored. and in most cases, the better team generally wins. But as I said not always. I accept that you thought france deserved to beat the welsh, and now the english deserved to beat us, but I say to you this is not my opinion I say, there are many cases in sports where the better team/player doesnt always win. I know I've played games when I can't believe we won, and those I couldnt believe we lost.

  • Comment number 91.

    @Daverichallen

    I agree with you that in picking inexperienced but promising players, it was a gamble that Lancaster took and it has payed off, and that is to Lancaster's credit that he made such a bold decision. But, how can you argue that Mallet hasn't shown anything to deserve the England job, just about every expert would disagree with you there, especially after what happened last time we went with an inexperienced coach in Johnson. To be honest either way they I will be happy because it just feels like we are turning a new leaf over, and taking steps towards being successful in 2015 :)

  • Comment number 92.

    BleuBlancRouge

    So what made France the "better" team today?

  • Comment number 93.

    @blueblanrouge - the problem with many of your posts here is ( not unlike some English posts) is you've taken a singular and one-sided view to the game and your logic is flawed based upon should have/could have logic! Surely if you argue for the drop goal to have gone in you must in the same argument cancel out the French try for the clear knock- on...?? Should-have/could-have logic demands it surely! And then you can replay the whole game and perhaps reassign the yellow card to France not England for a deliberate knock on, again this is permitted under should-have/could-have logic .. Indeed you are permitted to make any permutation you like until you get a result you're happy with!

    But back in the real world: France were at home, unbeaten in 4 years, had a massive advantage in experience and on paper should have beaten England easily, but they didn't ... A vastly more experienced French pack should have had the english pack for breakfast, but they didn't... France should have scored more trys than England as they usually do, but again again, they didn't. Both sides had periods where they were the better team with England failing to put the game to bed when they were on top and the French failing to claw the win when they were on top. Overall an exciting game even though you ar clearly disappointed. England are rightfully happy because we believe we are turning around, admittedly based on a few short weeks evidence, a decline that started after 2003 .. We're clearly not the best team in his tournament but you know what, we now believe we can be.

  • Comment number 94.

    willywonka

    Johnson was an inexperienced coach. Lancaster is not. Just because neither had held a top coaching position shouldn't put them in the same basket.

    Mallet brings a good CV, which shows what he has done in the past with different players under different circumstances. Thats all well a good. But Lancaster is showing what he can do with THE JOB. He is at an advantage there as Mallet can't show that. But I think what Lancaster is doing looks better than Mallets piece of paper.

  • Comment number 95.

    BBR, "Do you speak french..." yes. Maybe better than your English as you misunderstood or misread my comment: "French fear of an underestimated England" does not mean that France underestimated England, does it?? They were too conservative, with Parra and Trinh-Duc, they may well have won, who knows. But Beauxis has been tried several times at international level, over many years and has always been found wanting. Dare I say it, he is not French enough maybe? Seemed to me that France selected and played not to lose rather than to win. Not very French.

  • Comment number 96.

    @BleuBlancRouge:

    You think the team that was out scored 3 tries to 1 was the better team? The only time France crossed the english line was when we had a hooker at 6 defending the blindside of a scrum on the 5 meter line, not exactly a ringing endorsement of the frenchs game breaking ability. Everytime france broke the line they were then broken up by a great scramble defence, 111 tackles 6 missed by england 59 and 5 missed by france, so france weren't as good in defence. England had 5 minutes less with the ball but scored 2 more points. Despite having pretty much all of the ball in the second half france were made to look ordinary against England white wall, France lacked ideas and composure. Yes ok england weren't dazzeling but they were the better team by quite a way and without some shall we say interesting decisions by the half french referee (one of which was turning the ball over to france for the scrum which they scored off, a decision which can only be described as incorrect, due to the fact the ball wasn't held up and england took the ball in, which meant the ball is retained by the team that took it into contact. Him saying "the french were attacking" being the reason he turned it shows he seems not to understand linear time as the french were attacking..... until they lost the ball at which time they started defending against england. It would have been a little odd if the French had started running attacking lines and trying to break open england defence when an english player has the ball) they would have been quite a way behind.

    Anyways England were better on the board and on the pitch, france stayed close due to a strong back row winning and keeping the ball, some interesting refereeing and a decent kicker. The Team that looked like a threat going forward was england, france got most of their penalites from nothing situations. Oh and don't even get me started on the crime against rugby that was the refereeing in the scrum (not biased to either team just wrong), they really need to only hire ex front rowers as refs as no one else even seems to understand the basics at scrum time.

  • Comment number 97.

    @93 Waz: Well said!

  • Comment number 98.

    I have already mentioned it, but ok. My interpretation of the game was that we conceded silly points without any 'money time' (meaning a period in a game when the opposition is so dominant that it is almost inevitable that they will not score). i dont think there were any long periods when england were dominant, were as for very large periods of the game we were camped in your half. This is explained by our higher passing rate, possession and unfortunately opportunities missed. this also explains to an extent the higehr tackle rate of your team. Furthermore, and I may sound like an old fogie, but I hate fouls, and cheating. For me every foul is a form of cheating, as it is not part of the game. It is not what you are taught. It is designed to stop the opposition form scoring. Now I know it is not done in modern sports, but that's the way I am. I dont like fouls, and I will always see it as a coward way to stop conceding. The more fouls you commit, the more under pressure you are, the better the opposition are.

  • Comment number 99.

    I've not seen much of George Ford, what kind of 10 is he?

    I have heard he has a great kicking game but not sure if he sits deep and kicks tactically or flatter? Does he run with the ball? Can he tackle?

    I also think Jonathan Joseph from London Irish will be a player to watch in the future. Maybe even in the summer in SA? Hopefully Manu can learn to be a 12 in the future as we have a lot more potential at 13 than 12.

    Backline at RWC2015?

    9. Dickson
    10. Ford
    11. May/Wade
    12. Tuilagi
    13. Joseph
    14. Ashton/Sharples
    15. Foden

  • Comment number 100.

    ha, Im taking on the whole board here...ok...

    Rossignol, my apologies, I did mis-understand your comments As I said english is merely my third language, apologies if its not to the same standard as your french.

 

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