Six Nations: Jeremy Guscott Q&A
Among the topics the former England and Lions centre discusses this week are:
- Wales' hopes of winning the Grand Slam
- Whether England should make changes
- Scotland's failure to convert promise into wins
- Danny Cipriani's likely return to England
- Whether David Strettle's 'try' should have been awarded or not
Jerry will answer as many of your questions as possible each week but not every question submitted can be used. This week's answers appear below.
I thought England were excellent on Saturday, much improved. Wales on the other hand weren't at their best. Do you think Wales will win their two remaining matches? Also would you give Hook a shot at 10 against Italy? Matthew in Wales.
Hi Matthew, Wales weren't at their best because of a combination of factors, England didn't allow them any real momentum, they defended well and cut down the space of Wales' runners. Rhys Priestland should have played a bit more territory and Leigh Halfpenny should have kicked more, rather than try to run it all the time. Wales will beat Italy at home and France is harder to predict. In games difficult to predict, I usually go with the home team so I will say Wales to beat France. Personally I would stick with Priestland, after his performance against England; he needs game time. There is little doubt he has the skills and temperament to become a very good fly-half.
Like all Welshmen I am very proud of the performance on Saturday, we've always had flair but the steel to go with it is really coming to the fore at the moment. It's scary to think Warburton is just 23 but I am sure you wouldn't disagree that if the Lions left this week, Warburton would be a shoe-in for captain?
There's also tremendous debate in Wales about the exodus to France of Welsh players at the minute, dire warnings of the state of regional rugby, and yet the national set-up is resurgent. Given the continued exodus, Gethin Jenkins the latest, do you believe that it will hurt Wales' continued revival? Martin Howells in Whitland, Wales.
Hi Martin, Warburton would be favourite to captain the Lions but not a shoe-in because of the make-up of all Lions tours; the obvious is not always the given. The salary cap in Wales is going to be £3.5m for the regions, that will not keep all the best Welsh players in Wales without the financial assistance of the Welsh Rugby Union. It's a shame for Wales but that's the economics of the situation. No-one can tell if it will have a detrimental effect on the Welsh team until it happens. It's a serious situation in Wales if the WRU don't centrally contract the top 30 players very soon; I think Welsh rugby could be in serious trouble. I'm sure we haven't heard the last about Welsh players signing contracts for clubs outside of Wales.
From England's performance against Wales, would you make any changes to the team for the France game, especially to the scrum against France's battling forwards. Also, would you consider giving Ben Foden and Chris Ashton a rest? Simon in London
Hi Simon, I would keep the same line-up, or possibly start with Courtney Lawes. Ashton seems out of sorts; he can't seem to find his form that came so naturally 12 months ago. Before the tournament started, Foden and Brown were close and I believe Brown should be given a start,but I doubt he will. I can't think of a stand-out replacement for Ashton, other than moving Foden to 14 and bringing in Brown?
It is said Danny Cipriani wants to come back to England so he can get back in the national team. He has been playing 12 over in Oz, do u think there is a place for him as he is a great talent, if not maybe a place at 15? Mark Evans, England
Hi Mark, quite simply unless Cipriani has a fantastic season in Australia, he has put himself behind a couple of fly-halves, Owen Farrell and Toby Flood. While he's away he has no chance whatsoever of playing for England. For English rugby it would be great if he plays here in the Premiership but he's no help to the England team unless he has learnt how to tackle.
Just want to know your thoughts on Scotland. As a Scotland fan, I see huge promise in the team, but time and time again, they fail to deliver. What do you think they need to do to turn these narrow defeats into victories? Alex Ferguson, England
Hi Alex, Scotland have played reasonable rugby, enjoyable to watch for the neutral and frustrating for the supporter. Andy Robinson has done a decent job getting this team together, I believe he has prepared them well. The responsibility lies with the team and players to execute the game plan, plus basic skills. From what I've seen some fairly basic errors are being made by individuals, and as you would expect, Scotland are getting punished at this level. Scotland have a number of good players, especially up front, but unfortunately that class isn't replicated from nine to 15.
A lot has been made of the teams doing well in the Six Nations, but what are your thoughts on the progress of Italy? Do you think they can realistically mount any challenge in the next three-five years? Joshua, Wales
Hi Joshua, yes I think Italy will get better and stronger over the next three to five years, but they desperately need to find a classy 10 who can boss a game and the team.
What do you think of the rock music which blares out at Murrayfield every time there is a pause in the play, even when someone is lying injured?Robert Matthews, France
Hi Robert, personally I haven't really noticed it as I'm usually concentrating on replays or doing some analysis for the BBC coverage.
With a number of questionable decisions across all the games this weekend, what would you do to further improve refereeing standards? David Carr, England
In light of Saturday's talking point, do you think that it is time for the union game to follow the example of league when a grounding of the ball is inconclusive, that the benefit of the doubt goes to the attacking side? Colin Mackay, England
Hi David and Colin, in general the referees do a good job, it doesn't always help that the IRB choose to use southern hemisphere referees for the Six Nations. I still don't think they are consistent enough as a whole but that's difficult because of the laws and the different playing styles of teams across the globe. If the referee had awarded David Strettle the try, I think there would have been as much discussion as there has been that it wasn't, and would it be right? If I'm brutally honest I would agree with the decision made. It was inconclusive, and I wouldn't go down the rugby league route if that happens and award it to the attacking side; it just seems unfair to do that, certainly judging the Strettle case. If a player goes over the line in a good position looking like he's going to score, but defenders come in to tackle and you don't actually see the grounding, then common sense comes into the equation and you award the try.
Are you disappointed with Strettle's whining about the refereeing? In my opinion it sets a very bad example and stands in stark contrast to the professional way that Wales handled the World Cup red card. David
Hi David, personally I think Strettle's comments were harmless. I only read that he was disappointed the decision didn't go his way and that he thought the assistant referee might have seen the ball touch the ground. It's not as if he was in the ref's face about the decision like we see in football - now that would be setting a bad example.
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