BBC BLOGS - Ben Dirs
« Previous | Main | Next »

England aim to stifle Scotland's passion

Post categories:

Ben Dirs | 10:44 UK time, Thursday, 29 September 2011


Down on Queens Wharf on Wednesday, I spotted several members of the England squad taking an evening constitutional. Followed every step of the way by a full Scottish pipe band. From where I was sitting, the England boys failed to see the funny side.

Kids' stuff, really, next to the ferocious and sometimes absurd build-up to the Grand Slam decider of 1990 - "I wasn't exactly leading the charge at Culloden," England captain Will Carling told one scheming Scottish journalist - but proof, if proof was needed, that you cannot beat a rugby international between the Auld Enemies for fun, games and trickery.

The Thursday before that 1990 Calcutta Cup encounter, hooker Brian Moore slipped a copy of Shakespeare's Henry V into Carling's hands, opened at Act III, scene I: "Once more unto the breach, dear friends" and all that. England manager Martin Johnson, on the other hand, is rather more prosaic: "There is a lot of history there," said Johnson. "But that is all for the build-up and the exterior. It is about us playing well. If we do that we will put ourselves in a good place."

In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions. If you're reading via RSS, you'll need to visit the blog to access this content.

While Johnson might come across as a joyless individual at times, he is right that England need to be passion-killers at Eden Park on Saturday. The suspicion is that the only way Scotland can win by the eight points they need in order to advance to the quarter-finals is if England let the occasion get to them, lose their heads and get drawn into a tear-up. Which is exactly what Scotland head coach Andy Robinson will want to happen.

Scotland have not beaten England by more than six points since 1986 and have shown no evidence at this World Cup that they have the guile and the wherewithal to carve England up in Auckland. "They've got to beat us by eight, so they've got to chuck the ball around," said England scrum-half Ben Youngs. "And they're not renowned for scoring many tries."

Added the Leicester number nine: "We've got our game-plan and as long as we stick to it, we should be OK: playing in the right areas of the pitch, making sure we keep hold of the ball and we're disciplined. And all the pressure is on Scotland."

Whether Youngs and his team-mates are aware of the different permutations is uncertain - as far as I am aware, no-one in the England squad has a degree in probability, which is what is required to pick the bones out of Pool B - but the idea that Scotland need to "chuck the ball around" is actually a red herring: in actual fact, Scotland could still qualify for the last eight without needing to score four tries, which is why Johnson is simply concentrating on winning.

International rugby is about horses for courses, and Johnson will take the view that any win against Scotland is a worthy one. But from an England perspective it would be heartening to see them building on their thumping of Romania and that the game-plan is to play in a more expansive vein: if you possess three-quarters that can hurt the opposition, then you might as well use them. Does Joe Ansbro want to see Manu Tuilagi running at him all night? Of course not, because it must be like trying to stop a baby rhino with a dart up its backside.

If England play against Scotland as they did against Argentina in their opening game, it may well be enough to see them through. But against superior opposition in the knockout stages, you suspect Johnson's men will need to ask more questions behind the scrum.

While the Scots have potential game-breakers in Sean Lamont and Max Evans, their best chance of victory might be forcing England into mistakes at the breakdown, where England have leaked countless penalties in their three World Cup games to date.

Scotland coach Andy Robinson with Kelly Brown

Kelly Brown's absence may severely affect Scotland coach Andy Robinson's plans. Photo: PA

Johnson claimed he was happy with England's improved discipline against Romania, but his side still lost the penalty count 12-11, making that 38 penalties conceded in three games. The referee in Auckland will be South Africa's Craig Joubert, who has been whistle-happy at the breakdown so far in this tournament. And with the eagle-eyed Chris Paterson in the Scotland line-up, a similar number of infringements could prove very costly.

However, while Scotland got the better of England at the breakdown in the Six Nations encounter in March and England defence coach Mike Ford reckons the Scots have stepped it up since then, the loss of the destructive Kelly Brown, who took a bang to the head during the game against Argentina, is a major blow for Robinson.

Without Brown in the side England should find it easier defending for extended periods, without resorting to giving away penalties, and to win quick ball. And quick, clean ball will be key for England in terms of controlling and dictating the flow and pace of the game.

"It's going to be a tough game," said England prop Matt Stevens, who was penalised heavily in England's defeat of Georgia. "Scotland have their backs against the wall and will come out fighting. We've got to take that next step up with our physicality and our discipline."

England will be up for it, for sure ("I couldn't think of anything better than beating Scotland," admitted Youngs). But while Scotland will sing of Bannockburn before the game - "their fury, their frustration," as Johnson put it - Johnson will leave his copy of Shakespeare on the shelf. When the blast of war blows in England's ears they will stiffen the sinews and summon up the blood, no doubt. But while it doesn't quite have the same ring to it, they would do well to substitute the "hard-favour'd rage" with staying disciplined and doing the basics right.

P.S: Red Hot Chilli Pipers are in New Zealand, apparently, "summoning the spirit of Bannockburn". At least according to the advert I saw. Whether any Englishmen who dare enter the arena will be slaughtered with spears, we were not told.

P.P.S. I spotted referee Wayne Barnes at Auckland airport with a copy of the novel Shantaram under his arm. The book is about a felon on the run having committed a string of heinous crimes - having missed a legitimate penalty from James Hook for Wales against South Africa and Felipe Contepomi's run off-side for Argentina against Scotland, fiction might become fact for Barnes if he makes any more mistakes in New Zealand.


Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    Come on Scotland!!

  • Comment number 2.

    If Wales are our little brother, then Scotland is a distant cousin. Anything other than less than a 15 point victory for England will be dissapointing. Although Robinson has done well with limited playing resources, Scotland are still a blunt tool..

    Its just all too easy for England to get to the final. again. and then we will get a beating of a lifetime of the AB's...

  • Comment number 3.

    I'm hopeful England can win this. We certainly have the team to do it. But Scotland only need to win by 8 points, 3 converted penalties, and with our consistent error rate and Patersons ever consistent boots, that's an uncomfortable possibility.

    Scotland can be a tough team when they want to be, and they always want to be against us. They'll want to close us down quickly, slow us down and get in our faces. If we get frustrated and give away silly penalties then we may as well pack our bags.

    Keep it simple and direct and win ugly. We can showboat in the last quarter if all is going well.

  • Comment number 4.

    #2 "Its just all too easy for England to get to the final. again. and then we will get a beating of a lifetime of the AB's..."

    :-) a wee bit arrogent eh...considering England will have to beat France (not likely) then Ireland or Wales (not likely).

    Agreed England have a chance....but I cant see them beating France.

  • Comment number 5.

    @thefuryltd .. the trouble is even a blunt tool can be used to bludgeon you to death.

    The Scots will be at boiling point and look to ruck, ruck, ruck .. England need to remain cool, calm and precise and they should win .. but as with any Calcutta game, it can easily go either way.

    England have to clean up their penalty count or face being behind on the score board for large parts of the game..

  • Comment number 6.

    England need to concentrate and be disciplined. Haskell, Moody and Croft will need to be at the top of their game at the breakdown too. That way we'll win. Scotland will come at us hard and fast. We just need to be controlled and error free. Otherwise a shock could be on the cards.

  • Comment number 7.

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

  • Comment number 8.

    Here we go again, another blog and guess what? James matthew is talking tripe ( no change there I hear you cry)

    James have England beaten the three teams you mention recently? I think you may find they have, but that does not stop your inane babble.

    France do not like playing England and we are more than capable of beating alll three in a knockout competition. Which team do you support just as a matter of interest or do you just come on these sites to wum?

  • Comment number 9.

    Hopefully the game will live up to the hype!

    As for England being beaten by the ABs in the final, the ABs have to get to the final first and we're taking nothing for granted.

    Re the pipe bands - New Zealand is as much a Scots colony as anything else so no surprise to see them about.

  • Comment number 10.

    Neither side has played to their potential thus far in the tournament. IMO, if the game becomes open then England should win but if Scotland can slow the game down then England will give away alot of penalties! Their discipline has been appauling and has barely improved from the first game.

    You never know, Argentina might get turned over. :\

  • Comment number 11.

    "On an entirely separate note I really hope someone smashes Ashton in mid air during that embarrassing celebration, empitomises English arrogance."

    Once again the Celts rant on about English arrogance. BORING. If he was playing for any Celtic nation he would be a national hero.I have supported Celtic nations playing other teams, never again, sick of anti English bile.

  • Comment number 12.

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

  • Comment number 13.

    England are 6 nations champs and beat the hell out of Ireland in Ireland so getting to the final is the easy bit to be honest..

    Scotland give it loads of Braveheart banter ( that record never gets old does it?! ), will not score a try, get a few points off Paterson and get their customary beating.

    France are well, France, and will implode against England. They have already sacked their coach so they go into the quarters being their usual shambolic selves.

    Ireland are in decline ( beating a touch rugby Aus team does not count ) and Wales have had their one decent game of the last 2 years in this tournament already.

    Like I said, the sooner we get to an England NZ final the better....

  • Comment number 14.

    @7 - Yeah, because there's no arrogant people outside of England is there. Ashton could score a try by simply putting the ball down and showing no emotion, but still get slated for it. Why don't you just start you post with "I hate England and anyone who wears an England shirt". Then everyone can just skip your post and get on with the debate.

  • Comment number 15.

    @thefuryltd - #2

    You clearly support Exeter

  • Comment number 16.


    Wish I had put that post on, well done

  • Comment number 17.

    smackeyes - Sorry that was a bit harsh, I'm not anti-English, just anti-Ashton. He's not of the class of the Celtic wingers (Bowe, S Williams, G North) and his tries have mainly come against very weak opposition so i'm not sure he would be a "national hero". I personally want to support England when Wales aren't playing (rare I know) but can't while watching him, and Haskell for that matters wildly celebrating mediocrity.

  • Comment number 18.

    As an Englishman living in Ireland I tend to get lots of stick, only managing to give some back fairly recently. However I believe Wales and Ireland have played better rugby than England up to this point. But we are a better side than we were 4 years ago and look how far we got??!!

    It's going to be tough on Saturday but I see an England Ireland semi final, then God knows.

  • Comment number 19.

    THEFURYLTD - What a ridiculously uninformed comment. The word Luck rings true when considering England's stumbling to the final in 2007. Same with the narrow win over Argentina this year. Then Georgia hardly demonstrated dangerous play, and a win over a Romania 2nd XV - hardly a call for the swan dive of arrogance. England are a team who beat the minnows and then all their fans scream "3rd world cup final" - well show a crushing blow to an upper teir team before bragging too much, put away the camera's for the world cup winners video (grand slam video fail) and stop bragging about your players who arent even English - should we check Tuilagi's visa again?

  • Comment number 20.

    Come on kids, WHY CAN'T WE JUST GET ALONG! But seriously, if I wake up in the morning and find out you've all just been having the same old argument about the English being arrogant and the Scots being chippy, I think I might cry. What about this nice game of rugby that's happening on Saturday? Hmmm?

  • Comment number 21.

    My best advice for Andy Robinson and the Scottish team would be to look at the second half replay of the game in Paris against France earlier this year and remind yourselves that you can score tries and play with real passion and fervour. Before the start of the 6 nations this year Scotland were considered real contenders and on Saturday have to rediscover the self belief that they are capable of beating any of the worlds top sides and to stop thinking your nowhere near as good as the rest of the home nations.

    Sure Scotland have been a little bit behind the curve of late, but not that far behind and you've got a squad that is more than capable of beating a misfiring England team...

  • Comment number 22.

    I am English, am not arrogant. This came from a census I performed of only women aged 21-30 and they told me i was not arrogant. Stunningly handsome and witty beyond belief, but never arrogant.

    Would be interested in some Celtic imput on this matter.

    P.S England will beat everybody left in the WC because we are the best simple as that . ( might as well act arrogant sigh........)

  • Comment number 23.

    Come on Ben this is England v Scotland, what do you expect a hippy convention!!!

  • Comment number 24.

    EalingWelsh - Haha! Yeh, you're right. FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT!

  • Comment number 25.

    "you are clearly a plastic west countryman ashamed to come from the greatest country in this great nation. Also there are clear anger management issues though from your posts i can tell you have friends with superior sports knowledge who are very attractive" - John Nash

  • Comment number 26.

    One of the Scots' biggest complaints about England is our (alleged) conflation of sporting rivalries with political/military ones - so when our football supporters sing songs about WW2 during Germany matches, or the Falklands is referenced in the run-up to an Argentina game, they ride in on the highest horse you ever did see condemning us for this awful flaw in our national character.

    And yet when we play Scotland at rugby (or football - it was the same at the Euros play-off in 1999), talk of Bannockburn, Edward and Wallace is cheap indeed. "For me, but not for thee" is the rule here. Hypocrites.

  • Comment number 27.

    Smackeyes as i've said before us celts have got to keep on viewing the English as conceited and arrogant as if we don;t then the passion and fervour will quickly go out of our game. By keeping up with England then we remain competitive in the global game and if that involves continuing the myth that all but a small percentage of Englishmen are arrogant and we're the chippy underdog taking on the mighty big brother than so be it. Just accept it your all arrogant elitist public schoolboys and we're all resentful sons of miners and shipbuilderws!!!

  • Comment number 28.

    Again with the Wayne Barnes nonsense?

    Re the "penalty" -it is the touch judges job to tell the referee if the kick went over or not. They said it didn't -ergo it didn't. No mistake from Barnes whatsoever. If they were unsure they could/should have said so and then Barnes would have had the option to check with the video ref (absurdly in my view -the difference in angles and foreshortening effect of TV cameras mean this will never be better than the eyes of the 2 TJs charged with making the judgment).

    Re the Contepomi offside -as has been said many times elsewhere, Barnes was clearly looking elsewhere at the time of the alleged offence (and there is reasonable TV evidence to suggest that any offence was marginal at best, with Contepomi moving as soon as the scrum half had 'hands on') so any penalty needed to be called by the TJ.

    Ben, there are two certainties in any rugby match. One is that the referee will make mistakes. The second is that the players will make tens or hundreds more mistakes. Highlighting two -at best -contentious decisions from two different games and using these again and again as a stick to beat someone who has clearly been judged to be in the top ten officials in the world is stupid and tiresome.

  • Comment number 29.

    The Celtic nations always seem to step up their game when playing us, and so often we seem to look bewildered by it, devoid of the passion and the will to win that's clearly etched into the faces of Irish, Welsh and Scottish teams over the years.

    But for all of that, I don't see Scotland scoring any tries (except maybe a scrappy, lucky one), but I worry dearly about England's penalty count. Paterson is the biggest threat to us losing this one (aside from the England side throwing the game away through stupidity). England aren't famed for intelligent rugby and if (when!!) we start giving away needless, idiotic penalties, Scotland won't need to get anywhere near our try line. For a traditionally forward-dominated side, our forwards have been mediocre outside of set plays.

  • Comment number 30.

    I may be an ex school boy/ choir boy and page 7 fella, but i do not wear a tartan skirt and beat up octopuses until they scream

  • Comment number 31.

    My original point had nothing to do with arrogance. The English team that last won a world cup had a fantastic, hard working spirit and it showed in their discipline and more importantly their results.

    To me, this England team looks disjointed and spineless and I can't see them pulling together when their backs are against the wall (as I think it would be against Fr/Ire/Wal). The camp doesn't look happy at all and lack of leaders is a massive problem. Moody is a liability with injuries, Tindall is terrible and slow and not assured of a place and Wilkinson may also end up on the bench.

    I can see a narrow win against the Scots but a convincing quarter final exit

  • Comment number 32.

    SpanishJohnny - It was meant as a bit of a joke, although you have to ask the question, what was he doing looking the other way? There's only one thing he should have been looking at, and that's where the Argentine defence was when the scrum-half released the ball.

  • Comment number 33.

    19 - I think if you read thefuryltd's posts you'll notice that he's probably not English. But wants England in the final so the All Blacks can smash us. ie I think he's a Kiwi who probably thinks that Scotland along with others aren't any good.

    Our fans are getting over-excited. But that's what fans do. Even Scottish fans think they'll turn over England every time in the Calcutta cup because they believe history and passion will push them to victory.

    Also last time I checked. Mr Tuilagi has leave to remain in the United Kingdom. He's lived in England since he was a teenager and was educated, coached and trained in Leicestershire. I'd actually be annoyed if after all that he decided to play for Samoa. In fact I'd be annoyed if his next older brother who is three years older and also educated here played for Samoa.

  • Comment number 34.


    you need to relax mate...I know England have beaten those teams already and can certainly do it again...what I was saying was a reaction to the arrogence of of #2 considering it a walk in the park to get to the final. And that arrogence will come back to bit him in his lil ash. England have done nothing in the WC yet to show they will beat France. At the moment France are most likely going to the semi finals.

    Now take a deep breath and dont be so seems if anyone has a point of view on this forum that contradicts that "Its just all too easy for England to get to the final. again. " then they are being biased and anit English :-) please grow up and dont be so sensitive ya little girl.

  • Comment number 35.

    jamesmathew at post #4,

    If you think Wales, Ireland or France worry England in the SLIGHTEST when it comes to knock out rugby, you are sadly mistaken.

    No matter what the current form of these sides would hypothetically be, you ask the NZ team (supposedly the team to beat), which of the northern hemisphere teams they would LEAST like to face in a semi final/final, 99 times out of 100 they will say England; it is just the aura that England rugby union sides have. Even when playing without flair and in average form, "Knockout Rugby England" is a beast that everyone would rather avoid.

    England will be laughing at the fact they will have an exclusively northern hemisphere route to the final!

    On the actual match.... I feel bad for Andy Robinson, I really wanted Scotland to beat Argentina and get through, I think everyone can see that scottish rugby HAS moved forward and you can name more than a handful of top drawer scottish internationals, in a variety of positions. I think Scotland and Andy Robinson deserved a flutter in the knock out stages.

    Is it possible for England to beat Scotland and for Scotland still to qualify? If so I will be routing for that.

    England to win by 10 - 15 in good weather, 5 - 10 in poor weather.

  • Comment number 36.

    Wayne Barnes seems to be unpopular everywhere even in England. A couple of Northampton fans I know are still annoyed about him not sending Tuilagi off in the playoff semi and sin-binning Ashton who did little wrong. Although I did defend Barnes in that regard, because his touch judge didn't give him the full picture of what happened. Actually come to think of it, Barnes' touch judges didn't help him with the Hook penalty incident either. Maybe Barnes is a victim of bad touch judges???

  • Comment number 37.

    More points: Ashton is not arrogant - have you heard him interviewed? He's a humble, down-to-earth guy. The swallow-dive is his little affectation and represents exuberance and the love of scoring tries. Funny how players from nations that have been officially confirmed as "Non-Arrogant" (you, S. Williams) can do it without attracting any criticism whatsoever.

    Andy - we're well aware that Johnson seems to want to turn England into a rest-of-the-world XI, and believe me many of us are not happy about it. But neither your lot nor Ireland nor Scotland (nor anyone in fact - even the South Africans hoover up Namibia's best players as of right) is innocent in this matter, so put down the stone - the glass house simply won't take it.

    The match: England-Scotland games have typically been close over the past few years so a narrow win for either side is the likeliest result I feel. However, a margin of eight points or more in Scotland's favour tends to imply that they will outscore us try-wise and I simply don't see that happening. Who knows though. For Scotland this is the first knock-out match of the tournament so I'll take nothing for granted.

    As for our "route to the final" - I do wish some individuals would govern their tongues. Yes, we *might* get there, but to my mind it's unlikely that we'll get consecutive wins against France and Ireland/Wales - and all that's assuming that we finish top, which is not at all certain.

    This won't be our year. I don't think we'd land a glove on New Zealand or South Africa at the moment (as the recent head-to-head amply demonstrates). But if we get some momentum going - starting with the Scotland match - then we could still manage a creditable position in the top 4.

  • Comment number 38.

    @27 - I see your point Ealingwelsh. But surely you don't have to summon up feelings of past grievances and old English stereotypes to play well against us? Surely the feeling of beating your nearest rivals is enough?

  • Comment number 39.

    Ben - You slate Barnes for 'having missed a legitimate penalty from James Hook for Wales against South Africa'. How can you state that with such certainty? Were you standing at the base of the posts like the two touch judges? After all, they're the only ones who could tell for certain and he naturally relied on them.

    A photo in the paper proves nothing as it is impossible to tell if the ball curved before or after the posts. I'm all for slating Barnes for some of his decisions, but am amazed that you're still going on about this.

    England should have too much for the Scots tomorrow, just can't see the Scots scoring even one try after their recent performances. They play with spirit but have nothing in attack and only a truly monstrous penalty count would hand them a win.

  • Comment number 40.

    Let's get it right, England are reigning Six Nations champions, we haven't become a bad team over night. yes, they have been guilty of sloppiness in the first three fixtures and have been lucky the opposition has not been of a high standard but i am thoroughly confident that England will be focused and raring to go now the 'big' games are upon us. I would take England to beat France any day of the week but i am less confident of winning a semiu against either Wales (bang in form) or Ireland (experienced, full of quality). I'm excited about saturday's game already, should be a cracker, full of tension. may the best team win!

  • Comment number 41.


    ""Knockout Rugby England" is a beast that everyone would rather avoid.
    England will be laughing at the fact they will have an exclusively northern hemisphere route to the final! "

    hahaha...i nearly peed my pants..that was brilliant..."a beast everyone would rather avoid"...classic ... not at all arrogant are we :) and people say the English are an insular arrogant :)

    You do your country proud son.

  • Comment number 42.

    And one more thing, Panorama fella - "New Zealand is as much a Scots colony as anything else so no surprise to see them about".

    Untrue - New Zealand is more English than Scottish ancestrally but of course we lack the Scots' relentless self-promoting gene so you tend not to hear much about our contribution to that fine country. Such is life - someone has to provide the basic stock of the population that identifies itself without hyphens and the task usually falls to us.

  • Comment number 43.

    Ben - ever refereed a game yourself? He could have been looking at: the ball (checking for a knock-on or hands in the ruck), players on the other side of the ruck, players closer in than Contepomi was, positioning of the Scottish guards - need I go on?

  • Comment number 44.

    TeniPurist #35

    Your comment is a bit strange. To say none of the N Hemishphere sides worry England when it comes to knock out rugby IS arrogant. They should be worried because the performances they have put in have been very poor in the easiest group in the competition and Wales/Ireland have looked pretty convincing against world class opposition.

    The RWC team of 2003 might be justified in feeling the way you suggest but unfortunately for you 97% of them have now retired.

  • Comment number 45.

    I don't believe that any of the teams are particularly arrogant. Sure there are a few showboaters in every sport, but that is all part of the entertainment value and it would be a sorry state of affairs if there were no characters in the game. But, that is not arrogance.

    I'm sure the English/Eelsh/Scottish and Irish players have nothing but the upmost respect for each other as only they truly know the total commitment, focus and sacrifices they all have to make to play professional rugby to the highest level...

  • Comment number 46.

    re 37: XV not XI, naturally. "My bad"!

  • Comment number 47.

    Nowing us we will only beat them by 7. (can't see it mind, but I live in hope and "freedom" ;-)

  • Comment number 48.

    @42 - I think the Panorama may have been referring to Dunedin and the surrounding areas. I've travelled through that part of NZ and there's Scottish names for towns everywhere. There's even a small town called Bannockburn. Even the name Dunedin is a combination of Dundee and Edinburgh.

  • Comment number 49.

    Funny all the comments about Engands side of the draw, the easy side???? No such thing in the RWC. I am sure Australia were on cruise control until a group of ageing Irishmen blitzed them with a performance that tore up the notion that form matters. Saturday; Scotland will struggle to beat England but it will be a real contest. IF England do progress and find France waiting for them then I am sure they will be comfortable with that I know I am.
    I am dissappointed with the dropping of Cueto for Saturday. He should have been on the pitch with Armitage sub and Banahan off scuba diving somehwhere. Both Ashton and Foden seemed happier with him there to steady the back three.
    England by 10 points.

  • Comment number 50.

    @49 - Well said. Neither side of the draw is easy. I still remember foolishly thinking in 2003 that Wales and then France would be easy for our then team. As Wales in that game showed (outscoring us 3 tries to 1 that night) no game is easy in the knockouts.

    As a fan I'm confident that we'll win on Sat, then beat the French and then beat whoever we meet in the semi. But then again I'm a fan and I would think that even if I supported Namibia.

  • Comment number 51.

    #48 - Aye, Scotland did indeed have a large input into (mainly the south of) New Zealand (and don't they just love to go on about it). My point is only that the equal or greater contiribution of England (Christchurch, Canterbury, Auckland) is routinely ignored - and the Scots' general attitude to things English is purely coincidental, I'm sure....

  • Comment number 52.

    Dear Mr Dirs.

    Seeing you joining the Kiwis in taking a cheap swipe at Wayne Barnes in an unrelated article is really disappointing. When he's on the pitch he is working. When he's at the airport, he's minding his own business, and it would be much kinder if you would too. This is not football.

    If anybody bothered to check back and watch the Scottish failed drop-kick attempt in any detail (with a rule book to hand!) - instead of listening to what Sean Fitzpatrick and co. said about it and then turning off the TV - you would see that it was not off side. Commentary teams in other parts of the world actually commended him on what was a really close, but really smart call, and they were absolutely right.

    All involved with the decision are happy with it, including the iRB.

    Re. the Hook kick controversy; have you seen any really conclusive footage to prove your point? And no mention of the touch judges, whose only job it was to keep their eyes trained on the posts. Surely they had the best view in the house?

    This is people's careers we're talking about. I know it was meant as a bit of a joke, but please make sure you get it right before you try and make someone look stupid in such a public arena. If we support ref-bashing, there'll come a time when nobody wants the job and we'll all be a bit stuck then.

    As well as this being his second RWC, Barnes has officiated the Premiership final more than once, the Heineken Cup final, countless 6 Nations and other international tests and two high profile and high pressure Tri Nations tests in a really impressive way. He should be supported and celebrated - by his fellow countrymen at the very least!

  • Comment number 53.

    #4 just remember who beat france in the six nations. and also who have beaten both wales and ireland this year!! i think you should think about things before u say them!

  • Comment number 54.

    What a great bit of rugby to look forward to!

    England have started to look really good recently, winning over 70% of their games over the last year - something I took for granted watching them as a teenager in the 90's. The mind set the whole team have at the moment seems to be spot on. Players fighting for the jersey. Its been a while since I've seen such a strong England team.

    Scotland are always a threat. Andy Robinson has perhaps been doing better for the Scots than he did for England too. They can win. But will they? They won against South Africa last year.

    As long as England put in a good performance, they'll win. Scotland can win against top teams but rarely do, especially in world cups.

    I'm looking forward to a 15+ point win to England which will see them rise to 3rd in the world rankings (Something not mentioned by any reporters)

  • Comment number 55.

    Disillusioned Englishmen! To dismiss France as not even a challenge will be your downfall. I hope not, I want England to get to the semi's but I think France will end that dream.

  • Comment number 56.


    Spot on in every respect.

  • Comment number 57.

    @48 Dunedin is the gaelic name for Edinburgh - nothing to do with Dundee.

  • Comment number 58.

    54. Ah yes the rankings. I've looked and looked at the IRB site and will never get it. Can somebody explain how England keep on rising.and will go upto 3rd. what for a 3 point win of argentina and drubbing Romania. How comes wales are down to seventh after a heroic one point loss to SA and beating both England and Argentina handsomely in the warm-ups. Until England actually beat Australia, South Africa and New Zealand they have no right to 3rd spot. Why will a victory over 9th placed Scotland mean a rise to 3rd spot. Utter nonsense, I wil never understand...

  • Comment number 59.

    @51 - Yeah I have to agree. The English contribution is generally ignored. Everyone I met claimed to be of Welsh, Irish or Scottish extraction. I did think to myself that either the English all left NZ and it left behind the Celts or people are telling me pork pies about where they're ancestors were from.

  • Comment number 60.

    Having lived in NZ for 10 years as a child, I can see why the Scottish influence on the country is predominately in the South Island. A very similar climate to Scotland, and landscape as well. They will have felt very at home....

    Also, so the Celts have to rely on hating England to raise their game against us? I would have thought simply pulling on the jersey would be enough. It would be for me, regardless of the opposition.

  • Comment number 61.

    @48 Dunedin is the gaelic name for Edinburgh - nothing to do with Dundee.

    - Someone should tell the locals. I had four different barmen tell me it was that. I'm happy to be corrected though.

  • Comment number 62.

    @58 It goes on wins. England have won 73% of their games for the last 12 months - Wales have only won 43% of their games for the last 12 months.

    The IRB world rankings is more complex than just win rate of the last year but I hope that explains it a little.

  • Comment number 63.

    @ #52 - Absolutely. All of the above. Hook's drop goal didn't go through the posts. Contepomi wasn't offside. Barnes' decisions were both right both times. In fact, under scrutiny I can't see where he's put a foot wrong at this World Cup. Shame the same can't be said for certain has-been rugby pundits.

    @ Ben Dirs - Also a shame there's not an option on the page to "complain about this article".

  • Comment number 64.

    Can't believe the comments disrespecting the French and their chances of defeating England.

    Even one joker claiming that 99% of NZers would prefer to play the French over the English. Eng have played NZ 16 times since 1994 winning just 2 of them, in the same period france have played NZ 22 times and have won 7 and drawn 1. NZ fear the French many, many times more than the English.

    Since 2003 Eng have played France 11 times - France have won 6 to England's 5. Only a fool would write off the French!

  • Comment number 65.

    Maybe I'm missing the point here but why is all of the pressure on England when it was Scotland (not England) that lost their last game to the team currently lying third out of five teams in the table (and that England beat in their opening game)? As far as I can see so far its England played three, won three - everyone else has lost at least once. The results speak for themselves.

  • Comment number 66.

    Belt it ya bunch of Plebs!!

    Ben are you back to being a fatty again?

    England must be favourites with all thats at their disposal. Its basically a final with scotland starting 7 points behind and the winner takes all, its pretty exciting. But the bookies are seldom wrong. Cant see England losing, if they do then it will be one of the biggest bottles of rugby history .... sorry... it WILL be the biggest bottle of rugby history!!

    Cmon the Mighty Scots!

    P.S. If any of the scottish players read this (slim chance i ken), then ill buy you a pint if you wipe out Armitage, not you Patterson ... lets be realistic.

  • Comment number 67.


    Until England actually beat Australia, South Africa and New Zealand they have no right to 3rd spot. Why will a victory over 9th placed Scotland mean a rise to 3rd spot. Utter nonsense, I wil never understand...


    Unless i've forgotten haven't we beaten Australia in the past 2 world cups along with home and away victories in the last year????!!!!!!!!

    If this is the case (which i'm certain it is) then quite rightly we should be 3rd (or certainly close to it). Before people harp on about playing poor teams in the 6 nations each year, you can only beat who's in front of you and as someone has poitned out we have around 3/4s of the time. The anti-english bias in here is astonishing.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good bye Scotland

  • Comment number 69.

    The backrow is key, for me.

    England's backrow have not scared anyone in recent times, and if and when we come up against the Irelands and New Zealands of this world I think it could be our undoing. That said, Scotland have problems of their own, with the sometimes excellent Barclay yet to hit his stride, Brown out and the promising but inexperienced Vernon starting 8, and brainless tackle machine Strokosch on the's not exactly the well established, balanced Scottish unit of 2010.

    Meanwhile, Haskell and Croft are both capable of a lot and have hinted at form, and if Moody's knees don't let him down then he won't let anyone down. England shade it here on paper and on form, and if they can shade it here on the pitch and tidy up the tackle area then Scotland are in trouble.

  • Comment number 70.

    #64 Dorris...couldnt agree more. But judging on this blog, there are a lot of fools in England!

  • Comment number 71.

    #66. i think wales losing to samoa, and fiji in past world cups are bigger bottles dont you??

  • Comment number 72.

    @my own post - Bah...sorry...Hook's PENALTY and Parks' (failed) DROP GOAL (attempt).

    Note to self, always review comment before posting. But then what's one point between friends. Or Scots and Argentinians.

  • Comment number 73.

    " Sorry that was a bit harsh, I'm not anti-English, just anti-Ashton. He's not of the class of the Celtic wingers (Bowe, S Williams, G North) and his tries have mainly come against very weak opposition so i'm not sure he would be a "national hero". I personally want to support England when Wales aren't playing (rare I know) but can't while watching him, and Haskell for that matters wildly celebrating mediocrity."


    You put G North on that list and Bowe?

    Bowe who failed to score an easy chance against Aus? The same G North who has only been around on the international scene since last year and is probably at the same level as Banahan?

    I agree with S Williams though as he is a proven try scorer but Ashton and Williams cannot be compared because they are a different breed of winger. Williams has dancing feet whilst Ashton is a fast powerhouse.

  • Comment number 74.

    @66 - I would have thought that Gavin Hastings penalty miss in 1991 would be the biggest bottle job.

  • Comment number 75.

    Ben (or anybody else), you mention permutations in the article so maybe you can clarify this for me. If Scotland beat England by 9 points but don’t get 4 tries, we’ll be left with both teams on 14 points, England on +90 points difference and Scotland on +27. However Scotland will be above England as they won the head to head.
    So the next day it’s Argentina Vs Georgia. If Georgia win or draw it’s pretty simple as Scotland go through as winners and England as runners up. If Argentina win with 4 tries, it is again pretty simple as Argentina go to 15 points, win the group and Scotland go through in second. What I’m not 100% clear on though is if Argentina win say 18 – 10 (i.e. no bonus point for 4 tries). All three teams will be on 14 points with England on +90, Argentina on +40 and Scotland on +27. So who goes through? Obviously England have the best points difference but in the head to head games Scotland will have got 5 points (a win over England and a bonus point defeat against Argentina), Argentina will have got 5 points (a win over Scotland and a bonus point defeat against England) and England only 4 points (a win over Argentina but no bonus point in their defeat against Scotland). I think I’m right in saying that it’s down to points difference (i.e. England top the group and Argentina are second) but could someone please clarify………………
    Sorry for the long boring questions but need to get that right in my head before the games kick off!!

  • Comment number 76.


    I really don't want to sound arrogant as too many people will jump on it but we don't shade it on paper we should crush them on paper. It's just the old problem of a derby, the lesser team (Scotland) always up their game when they play. The better team (England) have everything to lose and little to gain so tend to play nervously.

    Look back at how often NZ cricket pushed the Ozzies in the 90s, how often City beat United even when they were a yo-yo team. On paper we should win by minimum of 10 but as it's Scotland any win will do which i tend to think it will be. England by 6, poor game.

  • Comment number 77.

    All this slagging and nationalism is getting a bit boring.

    As a scot I was delighted when England won in 2003. For the previous 2 years they had been the best team in the world and the players deserved the cup, although they were by that time on the slide and a bit fortunate the way the semis went.

    That squad were confident but never arrogant, and had many world class players. but the media did them no favours nor did the the gongs handed out to one and all. Since then the EBC and media in general have elevated England Rugby to a status undeserving of their abilities and performances. That is the arrogance that upsets smaller nations, it is a lack of respect or appreciation of the advantages in resources, population, money that England have over the rest of the rugby playing world.

    Which ever team wins the cup, I just hope that it is one deserving of the title World Champions, and able to conduct themselves in victory with the humility shown by the great champions of the past.

    As a final thought I know scotland have failed to score tries, but they have to sometime. why not this saturday.

  • Comment number 78.

    In the case of Mr Ashton. I think most non-England fans ire is not his dive. But the fact he scores tries in an England shirt. I know a Scottish fan who hates Rory Underwood. Purely because he celebrated scoring a try by smiling towards the crowd in the direction of his mother, who when the camera switched to her was jumping up and down. Apparently smiling in the direction of your mum (incidentally the end he was looking at had only England fans in it) is apparently arrogant.

    Ashton could cross the line and put the ball down and not even smile and still get slated. Its the rose on his chest that opposition fans have a real issue with, even though they'll never admit it.

  • Comment number 79.

    #75 - If they finish level on points and the head-to-head records of the three teams stand at one win each, then it goes to points difference - but I believe points difference on games involving the three teams only. So the massive difference England built up against Romania etc won;t come into it and it will be very tight.

    That's what I read earlier anyway but if I'm wrong I'm sure someone will jump in!

  • Comment number 80.

    wirral18, my post was in reference to the backrow, and in that respect we do only shade it: controlling the breakdown has been a major weakness of this England team - we saw it against the Saffas last autumn, and again against the Scots and Irish in the 6 nations - and if you can't control the breakdown then your flying winger and barracking centre aint gonna count for nuthin'!

    But, as I said, IF we can gain the ascendency against a Scottish backrow who we ought to have the edge over, then England have greater firepower elsewhere and it should show. But the derby factor could impact the contest at the tackle area (incidentally, why on earth they've got Hines sat on the bench is beyond me - physicality will be key for the Scots, and he makes a mockery of the overrated Gray in this respect).

  • Comment number 81.

    A game against England for the likes of Scotland, Ireland and Wales, represents a massive challenge for which they all get "pumped up. Its a bit like the noisy neighbour situation in Manchester. Does anyone notice how England only look at themselves and how they play as a team, they couldn't give a monkeys about who they are playing. Its only when England face teams with an impressive rugby heritage that they get excited. Its games against the big boys from the Southern Hemisphere that the England players live for, not games against Scotland.

  • Comment number 82.

    @ 72 - There's a point to be made here. You made an error in your post, and you corrected it.

    I just wish it was the same for journalists, because people will read this article over and over and still hold the belief that Wayne Barnes is incompetent when really, the only mistake made here was in the reporting. That's so unfair.

  • Comment number 83.


    I think the main reason Scots get annoyed about the WWII & Falkland songs sung by English footie fans is that it was the BRITISH army that fought in those campaigns not the ENGLISH army. If English fans sung about the Battle of Hastings we wouldn't have a problem. So I don't think we are hypocrites!


    Probably the most sensible comment on this thread. Scotland simply do not have a hope in beating this English side. We have struggled against sides that are allegedly classed as minnows & thrown away a lead through lack of concentration & we still can't score tries!

  • Comment number 84.

    I am English and I am arrogant. And I love it because I'm so much better than everyone else and so is my rugby team. Any Scots, Welsh or any other lesser mortals want to complain then let them because to be English is to be happy in the knowledge that we are just the best.

    In all seriousness though, we will beat the French, partly because they never turn up against us, but more for the fact that Lievremont is a certified loony tune and will probably pick Servat at fly half. It'll be Ireland in the semis where we will come unstuck...

  • Comment number 85.

    Just in case people have seen it yet. Australia are using their 35 year old number 8, Samo as a winger against Romania. Although I don't understand why its big news. Johnno is using a 2nd row as our wing/centre cover on Saturday (cue Bath fans getting upset).

  • Comment number 86.

    #79 - from the RWC Official Site:

    If at the completion of the pool phase two or more teams are level on match points, then the following criteria shall be used in the following order until one of the Teams can be determined as the higher ranked:

    1.The winner of the match in which the two tied teams have played each other shall be the higher ranked;
    2.The team which has the best difference between points scored for and points scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    3.The team which has the best difference between tries scored for and tries scored against in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    4.The team which has scored most points in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    5.The team which has scored most tries in all its pool matches shall be the higher ranked;
    6.Should the tie be unresolved at the conclusion of steps 1 through 5, the team that is higher ranked in the updated Official IRB World Rankings on October 3, 2011.

  • Comment number 87.

    @83 - Songs about the Battle of Hastings wouldn't even be appropriate for England fans either. Since it was the French Normans who won that battle and took over the country. Actually come to think of it, why don't the Celts hate the French? Considering Edward I was more French than Anglo-Saxon and most of his knights and Barons came from (or were descendents of people from) the mainland European Plantagenet Empire.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ James Mathew really if you can not post without being rude disrespectful and quite frankly bordering on racist please don't post anything.
    Also Chris Ashton is one of the best players around in the NH at the moment and if he fells like celerbrating a try why not, he is the one who scored it not anyone else so get over it and just enjoy the game!

  • Comment number 89.

    #86 - Thanks I stand corrected then, read an article in a Kiwi paper which said only points scored between sides involved in the tie counted... which possibly would have been fairer given the different conditions England and Scotland played the minnows in!

  • Comment number 90.

    I don't really want to join in the English bashing, clearly England are favourites for this game and there is real potential in their team. They are also looking to play some expansive rugby which they should be congratulated for. However, they are far from the finished article. One successful 6 Nations does not make a great side. A few contributors have pointed to victories over Wales, France and Ireland this year for England. I think even the most hardened of England fans would acknowledge that the recent game in Dublin should hardly be used as a solid indicator of form, given the Irish side was not a full strength one. I would have England as slight favourites against France, Wales, Ireland and Scotland, but certainly no need to be getting carried away. England are weak upfront and someone, at some point, is going to show that in this World Cup. I hope it will be Scotland, however I fear it may fall to another team. However, because England are everyone's big game, I do not expect it to be The All Blacks in the final either. Maybe the quarters!!! ;-)

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 not really as scotland wouldnt have scored that amount of points either way!

  • Comment number 92.

    #73 SaintsFTWw

    Agreed Ashton is a decent player but I think North is a better finsiher. The guy scored 2 top drawer tries against the Boks on his debut as a 19 year old and celebrated with dignity - Ashton scored a couple against an awful amateur Eastern Euro side and acts like he's just won the tournament.

    If the Lions starting XV was being picked tomorrow I think only Youngs and Foden would have a look in from England - says it all.

  • Comment number 93.

    not like steve thompson is probably the best hooker around at the moment or anything though right?

  • Comment number 94.

    Thompson too unfit, would have Ross Ford or Matthew Rees

  • Comment number 95.

    Ashton...what an overrated player...but only by England.

    Everyone else knows its only good against weak sides and when he has a straight run to the line. Sure he is fast and powerful...much like banahan...but there isnt a side step in sight or a clever off load. He is an average winger at best...not close to Williams or Bowe...give him the ball when hes on full speed and near the line and he will score...put a good defender on front of him...and crash down he comes.

  • Comment number 96.

    Cannot believe Deacon has made the 15 ahead of Palmer and Shaw.

    i must be missing something here.

    JM @ 95

    Did you not see Ashton leave 5 Aussie defenders for dead in the Autumn Internationals. Let's see how he does in the rest of the tournament before judging him.

  • Comment number 97.

    might be but thompson makes up for it by being incredibly strong and world cup experience

  • Comment number 98.

    @13 - no, England got beaten the hell out of by Ireland.

  • Comment number 99.

    @95 Thankfully, Martin Johnson knows its a team game and wouldn't over rate any of the players. The media may go over the top but don't they go over the top when reporting about anything?

    Ashton has been doing very well for England. His work rate and support play is awesome. He gets himself all over the pitch and importantly right on his team mates shoulder when they need it.

    I do hope he gets bored of the swallow dive though.

  • Comment number 100.

    @87 darkmagicshadw - "Actually come to think of it, why don't the Celts hate the French? Considering Edward I was more French than Anglo-Saxon"

    Because the food's better & the women are better looking!


Page 1 of 3

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.