Jeremy Guscott's Six Nations Q&A
Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:
- Who should come into the England side after their thrashing by Wales?
- The World Cup 'group of death', which contains Wales and England
- What he thinks about Chris Ashton's England future
- Who should play fly-half for the Lions in Australia?
- Who his player of the Six Nations is
- What next for Ireland icon Brian O'Driscoll?
Jerry answers questions posted on the website at the start of every week - entries are now closed for this Q&A. This week's answers appear below.
As painful as the last half hour was against Wales, I can't help but think that was the best possible result for England's long-term development. We need to develop a better balance in the back row, centres and back three. Winning, I fear, would have masked these issues. Who would you like to come into the side over the next 18 months? lukesblog88dotcom
Hi lukesblog88, it's a really hard point to prove that winning would have done more harm than good. I don't believe Stuart Lancaster isn't always thinking about the 2015 Rugby World Cup and developing his team.
The back row has suffered since the injury to Ben Morgan. Without his ball-carrying ability at number eight England have struggled, and Wasps' Billy Vunipola could have been introduced in his place. It would have been a risk as he is only 20 and has got lots to learn, but it would have been a like-for-like replacement and could have given better balance to the back row.
I would like to see more attacking players brought in than those who are happiest defending and following a structure. Gloucester trio Billy Twelvetrees, Jonny May and Freddie Burns should get some decent game time on England's summer tour of Argentina, which I think is good news.
Hi Jerry, looking ahead to the World Cup, does it suddenly look likely England will be departing after the first round as they are in the group of death with Wales? Much is made of the 'young' England side 'growing' towards the World Cup. But, on average, the Welsh players are only one year older, but far more experienced, and on the stark evidence of Saturday, much better. dragonsbreath
Hi dragonsbreath, I agree that Wales are ahead and at a good age, but they need to keep props Adam Jones and Gethin Jenkins fit because their experience is invaluable.
England will get better. They've had two very good Six Nations and should be in good shape for the next two years going into the World Cup.
Wales are currently the best team in Europe, but we have witnessed over the past 12 months how much a team dynamic can change - look at Ireland and France as examples, who finished fifth and last in the Six Nations respectively.
Hi Jerry, were England naive not to send a one-off SOS to Toulon loose-head prop Andrew Sheridan in Alex Corbisiero's injury absence, and not to start with Dylan Hartley as the better scrummaging hooker? They needed to combat the scrummaging wrecking machine that is Adam Jones, now reinforced by a very physical hooker and second row.
Should the decision have been taken on the back of England's scrums against Italy and the Welsh dismantling of the Scottish scrum? gjpowell
Hi gj, England boss Stuart Lancaster has nailed his colours to the mast by not including players like Sheridan and Nick Easter in his squad. To bring back Sheridan would have made a mockery of his selections so far. There's no harm in changing your mind but to bring players back for one-off games would be wrong.
The choice of Tom Youngs instead of Dylan Hartley is just a straight selection decision. There are those who would say Hartley is better than Youngs, but for that game Lancaster made his choice. Would he change it now? Probably not - he had good reasons to pick Youngs.
Hi Jerry, if Wasps winger Tom Varndell is not selected because of his admittedly very poor defence, why does Chris Ashton get picked when his is not much better? Gav
Hi Gav, Ashton is having a torrid time and will more than likely be given some time off if he doesn't make the Lions tour. I would be inclined to leave him at home rather than take him on England's tour to Argentina. Give him a summer of conditioning and get him fresh for the new season.
Jeremy, who in your opinion was the player of the tournament? And after seeing the partnership of Justin Tipuric and Sam Warburton pay off brilliantly, can you see them starting together frequently for Wales in the back row, even though by nature they are both open-sides? KyleC
Hi KyleC, I thought Alun Wyn Jones had a very good tournament - his time off did him the world of good. He came back fresh and fit and had a big impact mentally and physically.
Tipuric was impressive - for a relatively inexperienced international, he played like an old pro. It's great to see a player like Tipuric do well because he's a bit of a throwback to the old-style number seven. I don't think many other open-sides could have shown the pace he demonstrated before putting in Alex Cuthbert for his second try against England.
As for Warburton and Tipuric playing regularly together, that will be down to form and selection preference but they have proved the combination works.
Hi Jeremy, I see the lack of a true running fly-half in the home unions as a potential weakness for the Lions squad, given the hard, dry tracks the series will be played on. With this in mind, who would your pick be for Lions number 10 and why? Kwesi in Timor
Hi Kwesi, I would still pick Ireland's Jonny Sexton as my 10. He can take the ball to the line and make a break if necessary, as we've seen him do for Leinster.
Hi Jerry, do you think this is the last time we'll see Brian O'Driscoll in an Ireland shirt? Does he really deserve to be in contention for the Lions captaincy after such a lacklustre Six Nations? Je ne sais quoi
Hi, O'Driscoll is quality but his body is now paying for all the gladiatorial performances he's put in over the past 14 years.
Personally, I would take him. He's still respected and showed in a good team performance, like the win in Wales, that he still has the magic.
Hi Jerry, as a Scots fan, I am completely at a loss regarding the tactic Scotland have of kicking all possession back to the opposition when in our own half. This happened in three games and it just meant we had very little ball in hand, when we have backs who can run. Surely this gives the opposition a far easier chance to get points or penalties? Mac the Knife
Hi Mac, with two new coaches involved in a team they are still getting to know, it is easier to get the defence and kicking strategy solid before expanding the style of play.
Scotland finished third - their best finish for seven years - and that proves the system worked.
They also finished second in the try-scoring table and that justifies it for me.
Hi Jerry, the atmosphere in the Millennium Stadium was incredible for the decider between Wales and England, and was easily the loudest game I've been to! How did it compare with the games you played in, and how much did the crowd play a part in creating a positive/negative effect on the teams? In addition, what do you feel this Wales team need to do to be compared with the squad of the 70s? James Herod
Hi James, it was incredibly loud and an atmosphere that anyone would love to play in.
Back in the day, it was noisy as well but all the stadia were open, without roofs. I do think having the roof closed brings a different noise dynamic to the Millennium Stadium.
It really is unfair to compare eras. If you asked a lot of the youth in Wales what they thought of some of the past legends of Welsh rugby, they might not even have heard of them.
You look at players like Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones, who have won three Grand Slams, and they're getting up there with the best. A Lions win would make it difficult to separate them from the legends of the 70s.
Hi Jerry, in your opinion, what was the best Six Nations game ever? I'm inclined towards Wales v Scotland 2010. Pillowcase
Hi Pillowcase, Ireland v Wales in 2012 was a cracker, France v Wales in 2005 was fantastic and your choice was an absolute humdinger of a game.
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