Bryn Palmer

England Ratings (217)


England opened their World Cup in less than emphatic style with a 28-10 victory over the United States.

I was at the Stade Felix Bollaert and here's how I rated each individual player's performance. Let me know what you made of it and add your own thoughts.

Mark Cueto – Kicking improved after an aimless start, but doesn’t look wholly comfortable at full-back. Solid enough without a spark - 5

Josh Lewsey – Lively every time he got the ball, coming off his wing to good effect. Direct running created opening try and unlucky not to score himself - 7

Jamie Noon – Action largely passed him by after a first-half fumble led to a move breaking down. Missed a couple of tackles and not his day – 4

Mike Catt – Good width on his passing, often at first receiver as a second kicking option, cross-kick created Robinson’s try, linked well with Barkley - 6

Jason Robinson – Always looking to beat his man, but generally well shackled. Easy run-in for his 28th Test try after collecting Catt’s kick - 6

Olly Barkley – Oozed confidence and took his chance with aplomb. A couple of early breaks, a great take of a high ball, probing kicks, landed five out of six at goal, good support for his try, two more clean breaks in the second half. Who needs Jonny? - 9

Shaun Perry – Always looking to test the fringe defence, but had some slow ball to work with in first half and replaced by Richards for final quarter - 5

Andrew Sheridan – A force at scrum-time, where the USA were under pressure, and one or two good charges in the second half after a quiet opening period – 6

Mark Regan – A couple of throws not straight, but otherwise found his men well at the line-out and solid at scrum-time. Quiet in the loose - 5

Phil Vickery – Fortunate not to earn 10 minutes in the sin-bin for a trip on US centre Paul Emerick with the score still 3-3. Not his finest hour - 5

Simon Shaw – Solid supply of line-out ball, showed good hands at times but didn’t provide the impact in the loose England were looking for - 5

Ben Kay – Excelled at disrupting the American line-out, and solid on his own ball. Nice dummy and pass for Barkley’s try and worked hard throughout - 6

Joe Worsley – Threw himself into tackles with vigour as you’d expect, stopping several US attacks. One decent run, but not enough with the ball - 6

Tom Rees – The other big plus for England. Encouraging signs he is back to fitness, looked sharp, linked well and showed good strength and quick-thinking for his try - 7

Lawrence Dallaglio – Nowhere near the impact he would have liked, looked laboured and smashed back in tackle on one occasion. Sin-binned with six minutes left - 4

George Chuter – Replaced Regan for the last 18 minutes. Little impact.

Matt Stevens – Came on for Vickery and put himself about where he could.

Martin Corry – Replaced Shaw in the second row but didn’t really get into game

Lewis Moody – Came on for the last 11 minutes in place of Worsley,

Peter Richards – Replaced Perry for the last quarter and tried to add some energy.

Andy Farrell – Impressive cameo. Good passing, one break might have led to try.

Mathew Tait – Came on at full-back, but surely time to give him a run at 13?

Bryn Palmer is the BBC Sport website’s rugby union editor.

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 07:34 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Andy P wrote:

what a drag! I agree with the scores completely, England never looked like cutting loose, albeit a fine US defence display. Olly was impressive and may well have earned a starting place against SA (who'd have thought?) but the backline needs rethinking.

I hope this was an experiment that failed to deliver, as we need to see an in-form Farrell at 12 and Tait's pace at 13, so the wings get some ball. And get Cueto back on a wing where he will finish moves with points, and let Lewsey have the freedom at full-back; his game reading is first rate and he has a vicious tackle. England can turn this into a positive, but the focus against SA has to be better. Then, do we ever start a tournament well...?

  • 2.
  • At 07:35 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • HORTENSE vaughan wrote:

Just watched the AB play Italy and England will not beat the ABs however someone else cou;d beat the ABS who were awesome in their game against the AZZURI

  • 3.
  • At 07:38 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • i.jackson wrote:

I cannot concur with your assessment of Catt - I think he should have played himself out of the team against S.A. Farrell at least can provide a man outside him the ball and some space - surely a prerequisite for a centre. On this showing, Dallaglio must join Borthwick on Ashton's remind me why we brought him along list. And Cueto is not yet an international full back.

  • 4.
  • At 07:45 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Mickey wrote:

I agree with your report.
Ashton faces a challenge choosing his back line for the match against South Africa. On performances Barkley should start at 10, but will Ashton be brave enough to drop our world cup hero from 4 years ago wilko? Catt and Barkley have combined well together making a good partnership, the problem comes at outside centre, who to play against the boks? Noon was ineffective and todays game seemed to pass him by. Tait wasn't given his chance in the centre today indicating Ashton may be worried about Tait's physicality in the centre against the big hitting South Africans. Hipkiss? is he ready for test match rugby on the biggest stage. Farrell provided a spark but is he an outside centre?
Richards adds energy and speed at scrum half and should start ahead of Perry. Lewsey impressed, with Robinson again showing why England should give him the ball. Cueto was safe at full back, but he lacks the spark of all great full backs. Dallagio was poor today, however i believe he will raise his game against SA. Rees with Barkley were the big plus from todays game. With Rees surely to start at openside. With Ashton most likely opting to pick worsley at 6. However against the Boks it may be better to play Moody to rattle them earlY on.
Sheridan played well in the loose, with Regan doing enough despite his line out mr meaners to start ahead of Chuter. Another of Ashtons big dilemmas is Vickery, should he leave his captain out for the more mobile Mears.
Shaw and Kay will need to up their games against SA, to combat the might of Botha and Matfield argueable the best second row partnership in world rugby.

Ashton faces a tough time in the run up to the game.

  • 5.
  • At 07:47 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Iain Dickinson wrote:

I agree with most of the ratings. I would like to see the first XV for south Africa as the following:-

1- Sheridan
2- Not sure, Regan needs to do a lot of practice at line outs
3- Stevens
4- Kay, but needs to train more
5- Shaw
6- Worsley (Capt)
7- Moody
8- Corry
9- Perry
10- Barkley
11- Cueto
12- Catt
13- Farrell (much as I hate to say it, but he had more impact in 5 mins than Noon had in 80 mins)
14- Tait
15- Robinson (this is his perfect postion)

  • 6.
  • At 07:54 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Steff wrote:

To give Barkley a 9 is a bit much. He was far and away England's best player, but 9 out of 10 suggests he did more than a good performance against third-tier opponents. A bit fickle to dismiss Wilkinson so easily too.

I agree with your point on Vickery - that trip was cynical and should have resulted in 3 points for the USA. Having said that if Vickery hadn't fouled the American, England may well have conceded a try. Emerick lost any sympathy however, after his diabolical spear tackle on Barkley.

  • 7.
  • At 08:02 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • martin durie wrote:

let's face it - England were absolutely horrible and will struggle to beat Samoa, let alone South Africa on this form.

  • 8.
  • At 08:12 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • cambiaso wrote:

"I agree with most of the ratings. I would like to see the first XV for south Africa as the following:-

1- Sheridan
2- Not sure, Regan needs to do a lot of practice at line outs
3- Stevens
4- Kay, but needs to train more
5- Shaw
6- Worsley (Capt)
7- Moody
8- Corry
9- Perry
10- Barkley
11- Cueto
12- Catt
13- Farrell (much as I hate to say it, but he had more impact in 5 mins than Noon had in 80 mins)
14- Tait
15- Robinson (this is his perfect postion)"

Is this some kind of a joke? You would seriously drop Lewsey and Rees - two of maybe three England players out there who actually had a good game? Farrell has never played 13 in his life!

  • 9.
  • At 08:28 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Aaron wrote:

Mr Dickinson... u've just dropped englands best atacking runner for the sake of playing an unproven test winger... and englands best forward in the game... may i ask why??
when everyone has finished messing around with a world class back 3 would they mind putting cueto back on the wing (13 tries all from wing)and leave robinson at 11 where he belongs he is a sprint runner, leave him on the wing where he can get into 1 on 1s as well as switch wings if needed. Lewsey is the best 15 England have got, awesome tackle, big hitter, excellent read of the game and very aware of space add that to the fact he has a good leg and put him at 15 Ashton. Tait is good but the boy is a center, not a winger or a fullback he isnt an impact runner... he's quick but he is a probing runner, light on his feet with a good change of pace. rees has earned his spot, put moody at blind with rees open, its worth risking his penalty rate just for the speed of chase and all round inconveiniance he brings against the opposition. other than that... the team is okay... tho worsley at capt?? im a wasps fan and even i laughed out loud...

oh and regan needs to practice his throwing... did you actually see chuters introduction?? my god... you're throwing it at a guy with a 2 metre circle target... barn door... banjo... anyone??

My Team for South Africa
1 - Sheridan
2 - Chuter
3 - Stevens
4 - Kay
5 - Shaw
6 - Moody
7 - Rees
8 -Dallaglio
9 - Gomersall
10 - Wilkinson
12 - Barkley
13 - Lewsey
14- Cueto
11 -Sackey
15 - Robinson

  • 11.
  • At 08:29 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Paul Phillips wrote:

Very generous. should be
Cuato Not a FB 3
Robinson ia a FB 5
Lewsey 6
Noon 2
Catt 5
Barkley 7
Perry 3
Sheridan 6
Regan 2
Vickery 1
Kay 5
Shaw 4
Worsley 3
Dallaglio 1
Rees 5

ReplacementsS Stevens did ok 5 Moody 5 the rest 4

But I am marking in the context of comparison with NZ not USA who would put 80 past England with only 10 on the field!
Send them all home coaches and other ineffective hangers on - save more embarrassment and inflated wages and start working for the next one in 2011- if we qualify! Better still send Ashton to see how Argentina do it! At least they look organised and try hard

  • 12.
  • At 08:32 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Glaws wrote:

No passion, no ambition to use the backs to hurt the opposition. Barkley has to stay so it would be perry, wilko, cueto, barley, tait, robinson, worsley.

For the forwards Dallaglio must go, corry and moody must come in, front and second row is a lottery


  • 13.
  • At 08:42 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • James B. wrote:

An extremely frustrating start (as in 2003 and with most other tournaments England play in), and although the assessment of the individuals is reasonably fair, why can they still not gel properly as a functioning team unit. Where was the support, where was the passion to drive through the spirited American defence, where was the decisiveness? The Americans were a team and have been spoken about as a team, their performance earns them the moral victory from this match, it would be great to see in 6 days time that we talk about the England team as a TEAM, not a set of individuals.

  • 14.
  • At 08:44 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Andrew Marshall wrote:

Iain Dickenson i cant believe you haven't included two of the best players on the field today - Josh Lewsey and Tom Rees! Also Farrell hasn't played at 13 and as he is inexperienced moving him to a new position with only 6 days until the next test would be mad! Also Noon hardly got a chance, only getting the ball a few times! Another thing, as there is only 6 days to SA you can't say Kay needs to train more, he hasn't got time, its the world cup, drop him if he's not up to it!

  • 15.
  • At 08:46 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Tom 333 wrote:

This should be the team, that was a joke only about 4 are pro's

1 - Sheridan
2 - Mears
3 - Stevens
4 - Borthwick
5 - Kay
6 - Worlsley
7 - Rees
8 - Corry
9 - Perry
10 - Wilkinson
11 - Robinson
12 - Barkley
13 - Tait
14 - Cueto
15 - Lewsey

  • 16.
  • At 08:49 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Pinot Noir wrote:

England were listless, headless and witless. Apart from Barkley, Lewsey and at times Kay and Sheridan we were playing rugby of yesteryear. Watch the ABs and they hunt in 2s and 3s so instead of looking to go down and recyle (funereally in England's case) they look for support on their shoulders (both sides often) and they rampage.
England just go head down like blind rhinos and try to batter through. I could count more offloads in one AB move than Engalnd in the entire match.

Wilko at 10 if fit, barkley at 12, Hipkiss at 13. Dallaglio out to pasture for good. I'm off to SA game next week, God help us!

  • 17.
  • At 08:54 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Fed Up!! wrote:

Since nobody here is going to call this England performance what it was, I suppose I should. Bl**dy shameful. Shocking. Embarrassing. An absolute disgrace. I don't understand why we keep doing this to ourselves? Why can't we be honest and realistic after struggling in the 6 Nations for the last few years. England is nowhere near a semi-final spot, much less making it through the group stage to the 1/4 finals.
The scoreline was embarrassingly flattering. The U.S. played their hearts out and no doubt achieved everything that a largely amateur side can in a World Cup. They should have been outclassed, overwhelmed, and simply brushed aside. But they weren't. Well done to them.

The fact is today's match was as easy as its going to get for England. That is why I am finally fed up. New coaching staff, new coach, new backs guru, new forwards specialists....what a load of nonesense!! England are not in a temporary rut, nor are they "experimenting". The best squad possible is out there right now. So I am no longer part of the many England fans who still believe we are world beaters. With Samoa and Tonga next, England will have to reproduce performances from 2003. I don't see that happening.....

I hope I'm wrong.

  • 18.
  • At 09:01 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Iain wrote:

Whilst the team played very badly, I can't help but disagree with the people calling for Farrell to be played.
To coin a term that someone else has used; he is the experiment that has already failed. I fail to see why he's in the squad, it's just a waste of a space.
A halfway-decent 5 minute spell at the tail of a game England had already won against low-ranking opposition doesn't change the fact he's been poor overall during his international career.

The really sad thing is that the answer to outside centre is already languishing in the England squad, seemingly unfavoured by Ashton.
And, no, I don't mean Tait.
Dan Hipkiss is a phenomenal outside centre who has been in tremendous form for the Tigers, so why isn't he being played?

  • 19.
  • At 09:01 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Harry Burt wrote:

Possibly the worst performance I have seen from an England side. After the Wales game we just seem to have gotten worse and worse. Basic handling errors let us down consistetly today. Other than Barkley there was no inspiration or reason to have any confidence. God help us not only against SA but Tonga and Samoa too. I genuinely don't see us making it out of the group stages.

  • 20.
  • At 09:01 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

I think Barkley deserves a run at 10 after his last couple of performances. plus if Jonny gets hit by Burger/Matfield/Botha he mite not last the 80. Catt at 12 Tait at 13 and Cueto defo on the wing with Lewsey at full-back.

Reese was a top performer up front but Dallaglio has to go, preferably for nick easter

  • 21.
  • At 09:11 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Markymark wrote:

Lewsey has been England's most consistent 3/4 for a liong time now. I personally think he is best at full back.

England lack a really good scrun half at the moment, seems a long eway away from Dawson, Healey and Bracken competing for the 9 shirt.

Also the back row is very ponderous compared with 4 years ago, Rees is good, Dallaglio can be an impact player, but I am not sure I would start with him.

Personally I didn't think England would beatr the All Blacks if New Zealand made the final 4 years ago, and the ABs have come on leaps and bounds since then. However the All Blacks maybe can be beaten, every world cup they pile out of the blocks quicky, racking up impressive scores , then blow it when they meet serious competition. So who knows. But they should be head and shoulders above everyone else right now.

  • 22.
  • At 09:13 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • S, Ireland wrote:

I'm completely astounded that you could give Olly Barkley a 9/10. If your fly half played so well surely the result would of been much clearer, seeing as he is supposed to dictate the game! Sure his kicking was ok but his all round display hardly warranted such a high rating. In my opinion, England need to do a lot of work over the next week to avoid being embarassed by SA. On this perfomance SA would have scored handfuls of tries n the first half. Maybe this rating reflects how England's standards have fallen since 03

  • 23.
  • At 09:13 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • bambo wrote:

Iain Dickinson have you ever watched rugby before? Joe "average" worsley as england captain?!?! But then again, given the total lack of passion, verve, energy or skill... could be quite apt.

rees, robinson, lewsey and wilko must play. dallaglio, regan, noon, and catt must not. our biggest problem is utter lack of options at 9.

  • 24.
  • At 09:17 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • S, Ireland wrote:

Giving Olly Barkley a 9/10 reflects how England's standards have dropped since 03. He was supposed to dictate the game at 10, and a 28-10 scoreline fails to show he did! England have a lot of work to do to avoid a hiding next week against SA.

  • 25.
  • At 09:26 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • ross n wrote:

the biggest difference between the AB's and the rest is the speed of the offload in contact.
england just look to go to ground when contacted, the AB's look to offload once the defender has committed to the tackle.
i believe 'speed and early offload' whilst taking out the defending channel will be this rwc learning point, as the set piece was the last rwc

  • 26.
  • At 09:32 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Nigel Jackson wrote:

What a depressing performance!

I couldn't really disagree with the relative assessments across the whole team Bryn but feel that you've been very generous in terms of the actual marks. Knocking one or even possibly two marks off each of the individual scores would fit better with my mood.

I'm definitely not singling him out for blame when so many performed below expectation, but just an observation about scrum half play and Shaun Perry. It seems to me that he compounds what is desperately slow ball transference across the team. The other night I watched a programme in which Perry was shown engaged in passing practice. What was striking was the positioning of his feet. In practice he manifestly avoided doing what he seems to do almost invariably in match situations which is to take an extra step before passing the ball. The cost may only be a fraction of a second but at top international level this matters and - as a very lowly former scrum half in a junior club - I am not convinced that Perry's extra step necessarily delivers a more secure pass.

Living very near to a small town deep in rural France I watched last night's French game in the local bar. The disappointment and anger were palpable. Let's just be grateful that we did not have to face the Pumas at this stage.

  • 27.
  • At 09:35 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Derby Steve wrote:

Is it just me or does Ashton seem to play the backs out of position? Cueto is not an international full back in my book and it showed today, Robinson or Lewsey are far better at FB. Nor is Tait a full back, outside centre or wing. Far be it for me to criticise a man of Ashton's undoubted skills and experience but I've always thought it's best to play players where they play week in week out for their clubs.
I thought the lineouts were terrible, scrums and rolling mauls unconvincing. The pack looked slow and off colour. Perry seems to deliver too slowly.
I agree with the review's ratings and comments - well said.

  • 28.
  • At 09:40 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Ben wrote:

I've been watching England home and away as an enthusiatic fan for the last 8 years. I am going to the SA game in Paris, but with heavy heart. This was the most awful attitude I have ever seen from an England set-up. There is no excuse for USA ending the game the stronger side. To their credit, they wanted it more. That is not acceptable. England internationals have no excuse for not being 100% mentally. Our best players were two relative youngsters. The old heads must stand up and be counted or retire. Pictures of catty and robinson having a laugh after coming off also grate. The whole thing smacks of defeatism. As for Ashton I fear he is a man out of his depth. Compared to the utter professionalism of Woodward's TCUP model, Ashton comes across as an amateurish schoolmaster. Lesson 1 at U12s practice session, run straight and come onto the ball at pace. Lesson 2, support the ball-carrier. At least have the honour to stand up in the post match interview and take responsibility for this mess Mr Ashton.

  • 29.
  • At 09:48 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • bodge wrote:

mears for vickery, agree hes more mobile but would get killed at prop, presume you mean stevens??

  • 30.
  • At 09:49 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Stouty wrote:

Why all this about Billy Whizz at 15. The top teams worked him out when he played there. He doesn't need acres of space, he is more dangerous in tight situations to unlock rigid defences. Play him at 13 and give him the ball.

  • 31.
  • At 09:57 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Donald Young wrote:

You can't have been watching the same game as me, 16-man England were dire (yes that includes the Ref, Caplin was atrocious). No shape, no dynamism, no ability to out think our amateur colonial cousins, they should think themselves lucky they wern't playing the Argies. Where does Ashton go from here, the two old men need to go, Catt and Dellaglio were never in the game, Ollie Barkley was a the only glimmer of light in a pitch black team. Vickery has to be sited for the fly hack more akin to the game watched by our round ball brethren. The pack should dominate any team they play but even they failed to hold their own.

While it does this Scotsmans heart good to see the way they played, as a Rugby fan it's horrific to see team defending the World Cup so poorly.

I hope Andy Robinson didn't put too much cash on at the bookies, quarter finals might be a struggle unless they can raise their game significantly.

  • 32.
  • At 09:58 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Nigel wrote:

I can't recall a worse England performance. Dallaglio, Perry and Vickery have to go, I thought the idea of having leaders on the team was to inspire teams ?

  • 33.
  • At 10:03 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Globetrotter wrote:

What a disgraceful performance!
After that performance I'm sure NZ and SA don't consider England to even be a 1st tier rugby nation anymore. 1 or 2 changes to the team are not going to make any difference. England will have to start playing as a team and also play smarter rugby if they want to have any say in this world cup.

Samoa lost a few of their players due to injury in recent weeks and if it wasn't for that, then England would find it extremely tough to even beat Samoa.

England will have to improve 150% on today's performance otherwise I fear the big South Africans are going to simply brush them aside on the way to the QF's.

  • 34.
  • At 10:05 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Celticglee wrote:

Well, how the mighty have fallen.
For the past few years this England side have looked clueless behind the forwards, and they even seem to have come unstuck up front as well. I think the player ratings are hopelessly over the top, although I agree that Barkley, Lewsey (much underrated)looked like they could play, and Sheridan put in his best performance for some time they deserved 5,s 6,s (maybe 7 for Barkley)max and the rest 4 or below given the nature of the opposition.
I suppose it is no surprise that a team that has for so long depended on forward power is reduced to the realms of minor nation back play.
I fully expect a much better performance from the forwards against SA, and it may even keep them in the match for a while, however they will end up being thumped and the fact that England have for so long foresaken a real 15 man game will have finally reaped its reward. All I hope is that it will stop England playing the terminally dull "stick it up ya jumper" rugby they have been playing and start to use some of the undoubted talent(Lewsey and Tait for starters)properly and start to pass the ball!
I love all aspects of the game , including the blood,grunt and power of a great front five, and the carries of a great 8, the destructive tackling of a great blindside and the scrapping on the floor and link play of an openside. But the game is more that that. I hope at last England have got the message.

  • 35.
  • At 10:09 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Christopher Leworthy wrote:

Horrible and dire - I was looking forward to going to Paris until I watched it. Where on earth was any leadership - from Ashton, Vickery or Dallaglio?
Simple really - don't play people out of club position
So - Cueto 14, Robinson 15, Lewsey 11 (not club position, but has played there often enough)
- Hipkiss and Barclay
- Wilko and Gomersall (Richards hasn't played for three months)
- Sheridan, Regan and Stevens (Vickery an embarrassment)
- Kay and Shaw
- Rees at 7, Moody at 6 (club position) and Corry

If Wilko doesn't make it, Catt survives

Still think we'll get beaten, don't mind so much if we show a bit of passion and drive

  • 36.
  • At 10:09 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • fletch wrote:

a good start and the ball is now rolling. We all need to be positive and get the momentum going. Ok we did not hit 80 points but we are on the up.....keep the faith

  • 37.
  • At 10:10 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Dunluce Eccles wrote:

1 sheridan
2 regan
3 stevens
4 kay
5 shaw
6 moody
7 rees
8 easter
9 perry
10 wilko
11 cueto
12 barkley
13 noon
14 robinson
15 lewsey

It strikes me that the big problems are at no 8 and no 13. Old man Lawrence may be a good bench player - he has the experience certainly - but is now an ineffective starting player.

If Wilko is fit, there is no doubt in my mind as to who to put at 10. Why would we drop England's greatest ever 10 for a must-win match? Barkley would fit in nicely at 12. Catt can bench it.

The problem at 13 is that, unless Farrell plays at 12, the centres lack physicality. Sure he could play at 13 but that sounds more like damage limitation to me. I've gone for Noon as I can't think of a better option. Hipkiss and Tait too small, I reckon. If I were to play either it would be Tait as he wasn't totally shabby against the Springboks in the summer tests.

And, i'd be surprised if Ashton doesn't work this one out himself: Cueto = not yet a fullback. Swap him and Lewsey. If he thinks that Cueto really is the future at 15 then wait til after the RWC. It's all about the here and now and, as I see it, Cueto at 15 has a lot in common with Henry Paul (i.e. both bloody useless)

  • 38.
  • At 10:15 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Jason wrote:

Just one quick comment as every possible eventuality in england's line-up for the next game has been mentioned. Ashton will not put Tait in the side, especially not at 13 - the boks would flatten him. I'm afraid i'd keep Noon at outside c, he is very solid in defence despite being completely annonymous in US game, we need physicality there in the centres against SA. He won't create much, or indeed anything, but he will keep it even in the midfield. England aren't good enough to beat SA with expansive rugby, we'll just have to trust to our kicking game, and hope its a low-scoring match

  • 39.
  • At 10:16 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

The big difference between watching the England match and the AB/australia matches was the total lack of close support from england.

Everytime a AB got tackled with the ball there were 2-3 supporting players close in to take the offload. Australia did the same, just not quite so fluid.

Everytime an england player got tackled the support was a second or two late resulting in the ball going to ground and having seen the southern hemisphere counter-rucking in the first two games today I dont fancy england's chances of recycling much possesion through that route....

When AB broke the line they almost always scored. If England broke the line they gained 10-15 meters but that was it...

  • 40.
  • At 10:19 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • harry wrote:

my team for SA clash

1. Sheridan
2. Mears
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Borthwick
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Easter
9. Perry

Its an embarrasment that Dallaglio is allowed to wear an england shirt, he makes more yards being driven backwards than he does going forwards!

  • 41.
  • At 10:34 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Laurence wrote:

I think that blaming Barkley for Englands ineptness is really quite wrong. At least he showed some sort of a spark and broke through the defense. How can a fly half dictate the game when everybody outside him (excepting Lewesy) is playing absolutly dreadfully. To give the backs a break though, how many times was the ball passed down the line at the line out? The very vast majority of the time the line out was gathered (or lost) and then the fowards started a disorganised maul which led to absolutly nothing and which the USA, who did play above their expectations could easily slow down. It seems pretty clear that in this new age England can't rest on their morals of smahing the oposition around the park with their pack. They no longer have such a large advantage over everyone else. Its time to try and play with a bit of excitment. What are you first taught at school when you learn rugby. PASSING!!!! ENgland need to step of of the dark ages and see what countries such as Australia and THe AB's are doing. Don't get me wrong, as a forward myself, i know how effective and moral boosting a good maul is but when it isn't aceiveing anything you need to try something else. Rees in my opinion was the sort of forward we need more of- ball carrying, quick, smart and someone who has a bit of common sense. Phil Vickery is a disgrace and should not be allowed in the team after that performance and the trip. Lawrence Dalaglio was very disappionting, but im not sure who else would really be much better in that role. We dont have a world class no. 8. As for Mike Cat, i really dont think he adds anything but problems to englands already poor backline. Narkley deserves a go against SA. maybe at 12 with wilko at 10. Even tho he is injury prone you cannot doubt that he is a very good player + he was superb in the defense agaist SA in the summer. I think that the position opf scrum ahlf could be better filled with my little sister than shaun perry who is terrible. He obviously doesn't know about the idea of quick ball. The team need to watch australia and NZ's performances and see at what they are doing wrong. Watching this game, i don't think many of those players deserved the honour of wearing our jersey. They have shamed our country and have to change. FAST.

  • 42.
  • At 10:38 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • peter wrote:

the team for SA next friday should be:
9.gomarsall(i dont like the guy but he is the only one who will give quick ball to the backs and a solid performer, you know what u will get)
10.wilko(playing him and barkley together may prove a good combination as they can both play 10 and 12)

  • 43.
  • At 10:51 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Doz Bennett wrote:

it amazes me. how are general fans of english rugby sitting here after watching an absolute disgrace of a game and calling for 'big names' like farrel and wilko. WTF? the problem lays deeper than that. its obvious poeple are being played out of position but seriously, to scrape a 28-10 win against the USA says it all about the entire english game. ALWAYS LOOKING FOR PHYSICALITY. when, in a group against the tongans and samoans, it's absurd. Ashton even said himself 'i'll think we can cope in that area'-honestly after an extremly ineffective tactic agianst the USA failed? wots plan B Ashton, maybe perhaps pass the ball further out than the inside centre, surely not?! genuine positives? we won the game... THATS IT. as for next week, is there any point in even putting a team out for south africa? hopeless. despite the fact we're be absolutely humiliated by the springboks, the best available team, in my opinion would be:
1 Sheridan
2 Regan
3 Stevens
4 Kay
5 Shaw
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Easter
9 Perry
10 Wilko (if fit, he needs to play)
11 Sackey
12 Barkley
13 Hipkiss
14 Lewsey
15 Robinson
a team of massive ego's, with very little game knowledge to back it up. ridiculous for a country like england. God help us.

  • 44.
  • At 10:55 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • lloyd wrote:

Tait is one of our best attacking players, he should start!!! 13 has his number written all over it, we need someone who can attack, defence is great! But what is the point of defending all game!! Play to win and score more than them, not conceed less!!!!

  • 45.
  • At 10:59 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • BanZ wrote:

For me,


Dallagio has shown himself to be past it and lacking the fitness to play 80mins test rugby, not to say he cant make an impact for 15mins at the end of a game when teams are tired. Catt releases players and hipkiss has impact which very few of our backs have. Setting up a centre partnership combining any of barclay/tait/catt together I think just leaves you too exposed plysically in defence. You have wilco to come on from the bench also if you need a change of play or to become more defensive to close out a game.

  • 46.
  • At 11:05 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Euan Millar wrote:

i am seriously considering putting a bet on samoa to reach the quarters. nothing else need be said.

  • 47.
  • At 11:07 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Iain Dickinson wrote:

Guys, I stand my decision and for the guy who says I have not watched Rugby? I played Rugby for 20 years and stand my thoughts. Vickery is not captain class, as was proved today. worsley is (a little closer) to Martin Johnson in his attitude. Tom Rees I thought was below average, and Josh Lewesy was ineffective. Mind you some people are saying that Lewsey could be a good 15, I would like to see, but I think that Billy Whizz is better. I don't know why Dayglo is in the Squad, hence why I would personally not have him in my first 15.
Of course It is only a starting 15, and Having Lewsey and Wilkinson as Backup is a positive, but like I say I stand by my convictions on the lacklustre performance today, and we all agree that something needs to be done. The only thing I would probably change is swap Catt and Farrell to 13 and 12 respectively.
Andy Marshall, I ask who would you have as Ben Kays Replacement, I think extra training in 6 days will help if he has his mind on it, which I am sure of.

Oh the Joys of being Devils Advocate!

I know that we all would love to be in Ashtons shoes, as we all have an opinion, and you know mine.

  • 48.
  • At 11:11 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Welsh Colin wrote:

I hate to comment on an English rugby performance being a Welshman but after watching the the first four opening games of the World Cup Rugby England are the only team not to have played without a lot of pride and commitment, except for the odd few minutes. Every other team are playing the game with the belief and pride of the highest level and are rising to the occasion which makes for some very entertaining viewing. France are the only other team to approach England's depths but even so they tried very hard but it was unfortunately misdirected. England will have to pull their socks up to get to the quarters.

  • 49.
  • At 11:13 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • meryl phillips wrote:

Everyone is very keen to give marks for the performance of the individuals in the team but the person who really needs marking for his performance today is Mr Ashton (I give him 1 mark and thats for turning up). When are we English going to start taking this thing seriously, can you see the Springboks or the All Blacks putting up with a coach who delivers these results, I don't think so, he would have been out on his ear months ago.Just listen to the guy, a leader of men? An inspirational figure? Not likely! What we need is a good Southern hemisphere coach to put some up to date thinking and some steel back in this side. Yes, like a few others I was embarassed today.

  • 50.
  • At 11:55 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Bryn Palmer wrote:

Thanks for all your comments. It's sometimes difficult when you are trying to make an instant decision at the end of the match and rush out some ratings, but it was a curious performance in that it seemed to me more of a general malaise rather than individual failings.
I agree that nine out of 10 seems ridiculously high for a fly-half in a match which highlighted England's current struggle to score tries. On reflection I'd have given Barkley eight, but I struggle to think of much he did wrong and he was certainly a cut above the rest. The official stats we were given after the game said that England made four line breaks in the game - only four! -and at least three of them were from Barkley, if not all of them.
The alarming thing, or perhaps encouraging for the future, if you are an England fan is that Barkley and Tom Rees, the two youngest players in the side, seemed to be the ones showing the most leadership.
But Ashton has certainly got a few selection decisions to make for the South Africa game. It wouldn't surprise me if Barkley started at 12 if Jonny is fit, but I'd be amazed if he makes it. And while Noon had a poor game against the US, he may come into his own more in the defensive game they will play against the Boks. Ashton's also got a call to make at number eight, where I thought Lawrence struggled. Does he bring Nick Easter in, or hope the old warrior will summon the furies one more time? Personally I think he's paying the price for leaving genuine impact players like James Haskell at home. But maybe they will "shock the world" - the slogan the squad has apparently adopted - on Friday. Or perhaps brutal reality will kick in. It should make for fascinating viewing anyway.

  • 51.
  • At 11:56 PM on 08 Sep 2007,
  • Fed Up!! wrote:

I hope Wales understand that they have in Canada a much more formidable challenge than England had this afternoon. Canada will be fired up.

  • 52.
  • At 12:03 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Back from Lens and far from chuffed wrote:

I was lucky this year to get tickets for all of England's matches (well done the French for proving that real supporters are welcome as well as the Corporate Hostility packages). I've booked flights / trains / hotels to see me through to the quarter finals in Marseille but on this showing I'll be there for a weekend watching other teams on the big screens. England looked pedestrian today - certainly no match for the Kiwi juggernaut and I fear a traffic accident on Friday night aginst the Springboks. When you watch a Mexican wave go four or five times around a ground which has gaps in the corners you know its been a poor game. Still, we're English so we'll keep on singing Sweet Chariot and hoping that the next game is the one when it all comes good.

  • 53.
  • At 12:05 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • slawts wrote:

Absolutely appalling. Barkley is mediocre and I can't understand why anybody rates him.
As a former (bad) winger I can't believe the running lines of the backs. Do the England team not have a backs coach. I feel sorry for the forwards it must be depressing winning the ball and seeing the glory boys wasting it.

The sadest thing about todays game is that England has picked a largely "has been" team. There was never a realistic chance that England would retain the title. How many young English players were left at home who should be getting valuble experiance for the future challange? At an average age of 29 and no real prospect of winning the world cup! What a waste of developement for the future this has been! How many of this squad will be playing in 4 years time?

  • 55.
  • At 12:13 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • dr seoul wrote:

Above comments make it clear that I needn't waste time getting up at 4 in the morning to watch the Boks mash Eng next week....or indeed watch this game later this afternoon.Tough to understand how Eng's form over the last two seasons has been so up and down.
With Tonga and Samoa to play could be departure before the QFs?

  • 56.
  • At 12:13 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • depressed of dulwich wrote:

After reading 43 negative comments its tempting to say something positive to say but lets face it England were woeful. Yes the Eagles were committed and technically efficient but the world champions are professionals and have huge strengths in resources. Remedy for this RWC? Probably a case of embarrassment limitation but I'd support the calls of others for weeding out old for newer talent and playing pros in their club positions and say to England: PLAY WHAT'S IN FRONT OF YOU (tks JGuscott).

  • 57.
  • At 12:16 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • James Cook wrote:

Haven't read any other comments but have to write that this performance was probably the most embarrassing of any by any England team at any sporting event that I have ever witnessed. The England Rugby Team today were effectively outplayed in the second half of today's game by a, so-said , third world rugby playing country.
I do not know where the England Rugby team has lost its way but someone needs to get into the dressing room and explain that the rubbish they served up to their loyal supporters today was, and is, unacceptable. I was absolutely speechless until now and only a win will suffice against SA (it's the hope that kills you) will obliterate this abomination.
PS. Congratulations to the USA. Hope you beat Samoa to help us qualify for the QF's so that we only need to beat Portugal to qualify for the next World Cup. Does anyone else get the feeling that something has gone wrong with English rugby since our greatest two hours ?
PPS. Sorry to any of our Oxbridge readers for any grammatical errors but I am a little inebriated.

  • 58.
  • At 12:20 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Dan wrote:

Assuming Wilko isn't fit I'd go with...

1- Sheridan
2- Regan (only just)
3- Stevens
4- Borthwick
5- Kay
6- Moody
7- Rees
8- Corry
9- Perry
10- Barkley
11- Cueto
12- Noon
13- Tait
14- Robinson
15- Lewsey

  • 59.
  • At 12:46 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • lukethebody wrote:

Please England sort this mess out, surely we could'nt have gone this far backwards in 4 short years ?, at this stage it looks like it ! First we need someone to lead this bunch of misfits and at least drill a bit of inspiraion out of them, never in the history of sport have the defending world champions been so poor. Please England sort this mess out.

  • 60.
  • At 01:10 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • JMB wrote:

I'd go with

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter
3. Vickery
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Worsley
7. Rees
8. Easter
9. Gomarsall
10. Barkley
11. Robinson
12. Wilkinson (if not fit, Catt)
13. Tait
14. Cueto
15. Lewsey

Wilko has shown himself more than capable of playing 12 in the past. Dallaglio's legs won't carry him through 80 minutes any more, but a useful old head to bring on at the end of a tight game if we're edging it (unlikely I know). Gomarsall simply has to play - Perry's slow ball is so frustrating to watch.

  • 61.
  • At 01:19 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Makin wrote:

Lots of comments, some good some bad.
Frankly we don't have the players to compete at the highest level. Barkley played OK but basicallay he is a part time public school thug and very average rugby player. If Wilco is fit no contest! Perhaps Berkley at 12 but not for me. Lets face facts we are very unlikely to win this world cup so lets blood youngsters like Hipkiss. As for Andy Farrell, he is too slow at centre but has a good football brain and the best pass in the squad. I would seriously look at a back row place for him.
Having said all this it may have been just a 'bad day at the office' for the team, but if they play like this next week the 'Boks' will put 50 on us.
Buck up lads and good luck next week.

  • 62.
  • At 02:04 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Paul wrote:

For me.

Sheridan (19 stone slab of meat to terrorise opposing front rowers, in set pieces and in the loose - great run out today I thought)
Regan (Though the line out needs work, a far better options than Chuter, who seems only to be able to master Leicesters shallow gameplan)
Vickery/Stevens (c)(Leadership from the England tighthead to lead from the front - just like our last forwards hero captain - and Stevens to add the final push to a game 20 minutes from the end)
Kay (Experience invaluable in a game against S.A - open play skills to match)
Shaw (Dominant force in the line out, and good around the park)
Moody (Worsely is the second - only to Corry - most 1 dimensional back row player I have ever been so unfortunate to witness)
Rees (In my opinion Englands new Neil Back - huge potential, pace and ball skills to measure)
Easter/Dallaglio (Easter a sure bet, and subsatantially younger/fitter than Dallaglio, though Lawrence is a superb Impact player and better when he can play his heart out - the last 20/30 minutes of a game)

Perry (Richards is not even close on Perry dynamism)
Wilkinson/Barclay (Form comes now and again but class remains forever - such is the same with Wilko and Barclay, the latter on form and Wilko shear class)
Cueto/Tait (Cueto hasn't done anything to secure his place in the England side, and personally I'd play Tait, though Cueto's higher experience may prove valuable in a big game)
Catt/Farrel (Depending on the gamestyle Aston wants to play, Catt is a sure bet at inside, with an excellent kicking and passing game, but Farrell offers a platform from which to make ground the most direct way)
Hipkiss (Stays on his feet well and feeds other players with ball across the gain line - great news for playing the hugely physical Safs)
Lewsey (Only real option, no one quite relished the little freedom England had today aside from maybe Barclay, and the man could bring down an ox with his tackling)

I believe this would be the most dynamic and effective combination of youth and experience, and it's probably the team I'd stick with all tournament.

  • 63.
  • At 02:28 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • joe wrote:

1. sheridan
2. regan
3. stevens
4. shaw
5. kay
6. moody
7. rees
8. worsley
9. perry
10. wilko
11. robinson
12. farrell
13. tait
14. sackey
15. lewsey

  • 64.
  • At 03:14 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Graeme Bradshaw wrote:

Lets get real.England looked absolutely pedestrian against a Rugby Minnow. Their backs lack pace, penetration or any sort of game plan. The forwards were little better and rarely got out of second gear. Start planing now for 2011 because there's no prospect of England beating any of the Southern Hemisphere big 3.

  • 65.
  • At 03:34 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

One of the poorest displays i have seen from england in my time watching them-were they not supposed to have spent the summer training together so they were fit and well prepared? Compare englands display with that of nz,australia and dare i say it,even argentina(that result at HQ last year doesnt look such a shock now does it) how bad are our fitness/skills compared to them-the interplay between backs and forwards, the speed they hit the rucks/mauls, the incisiveness of their passing,timing of the run etc. We seem to have made no progress at all from the robinson era. We were playing the USA who are not even as good as italy or samoa- we should have put 55-65 pts on them at least. Ashton now has just a few days to re-think tactics/personnel for SAF. A big defeat next friday is possibly looming.Ashton now has to go for broke and take risks-no conservative selection so-
stevens in for vickery (vickery is nowhere near the form of old and he seems unfit)
Easter for dallaglio(im afraid lawro is living on reputation rather than current form-haskell ought to be here- against france and now even the usa- he has been poor-he must be dropped)
Gomarsall for perry(we need an old experienced head at 9)
tait or hipkiss for noon(noon may be good defensively but he offers nothing in attack)
swap lewsey and cueto round(lewsey to fb cueto to wing)

  • 66.
  • At 04:31 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • VB Melderado wrote:

Dallageo must go. Watch his eyes everytime he gets the ball; he's looking down, he just goes to ground immediately. He never makes any headway, and often gets knocked back. Terrible.

Rees and Moody need to play in the back row, possibly with Easter at 8 to provide some muscle and at least make some headway with the ball. Corry -- given his versatility is the best cover and impact off the bench.

Stevens has to replace Vickery; the later provides no pace or leadership.

If Wilko is fit, we should go with Wilko, Barkley, and Tait. Small line up maybe, but best chance to get something going. Have Catt off the bench for best cover, or use Farrel at 12 to add some muscle.

  • 67.
  • At 05:14 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Doom Gloom but not Despondency wrote:

I watched the game and read the comments. A couple of observations. Firstly we should not be surprised that Mr Ashton does not know who to pick in which position, after all he was part of Mr Robinson's coaching team and that is what characterised his regime. Secondly, whether a player does well in a particular game or not is one thing but I am always a little uncomfortable in decrying a player's talent. All you can ask of a player is that he goes out and tries his best to do what the coach asks of him. We have built (sic) a side on the basis of sound defence. Why are we surprised when defensive players cannot display the similar levels of attacking skills? It is a little late in the day for further experimentation - we have 3 years of evideence that in most cases picking players out of position does not work. For this reason I would not want to see Farrell switched to outside centre when he is only just coming to terms with being selected at inside centre. I think since we all acknowledge that a win against SA is beyond us I think we should take this opportunity to select a back division which will create chances and score tries, even if this means sacrificing a bit of the defensive capability. A final thought - if I was American (which thank the Lord I am not) I would be encouraged by the performance and they have come on a great deal. How good the Eagles are will be shown by their game against Tonga, this will put yesterday's game into context.

  • 68.
  • At 05:50 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • James Griffin wrote:

I love reading the comments prior to the match vs. those posted after the match. Full disclosure-I am American, proud of it, and love rugby. It seems our cousins across the pond disrespected us and have paid for it. Rugby in the professional era is about supreme fitness, skill, tactical awareness, etc. But what hasn't changed in rugby is playing with pride and heart. England arrongantly believed they could show up, go through the motions, and put 50-100 points on us. Without heart and respect of your opposition, you get a result like today. Eat a little humble pie and it will do you some good. And oh by the way, well done Eagles. Let's take it to Tonga and Samoa!

  • 69.
  • At 06:05 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Edwick wrote:

I think it's pretty much all been said and we're all very depressed. Any hopes I had that England could surprise everyone and make an impact at this world cup have been well and truely shattered. The once great Lawrence Dallaglio is a shadow of his former world cup winning self and utterly undeserved of the number eight jersey that was cruelly taken from Nick Easter but then many of us could have told Ashton this before the world cup ever kicked off just as we knew that Lewsey and Cueto's positions' were mixed up. I think that the current England coach has to take the blame if his team doesn't show any signs of improvement. Since taking over from Robinson and being hailed as the answer to England's prayers, things have gotten far worse and his selections for this tournament were for the most part unambitious and ignorent of current form. The chosen captain of the team isn't even deserving of his place in the first XV as reflected in this article where evryone picks Stevens at tighthead!! Oh well, Let's hope this England team proves us all wrong eh?

  • 70.
  • At 06:11 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Donald Young wrote:

Reading more of your comments I'm pleased to see all the armchair pundits are out picking Ashtons' team however you can pick who you like but you still lack the one thing that will move England forward as the tournament progresses LEADERSHIP. You have none off the field; you have none on the field. You do not have a Martin Johnston/Francios Pinaar/Sean Fitzpatrick etc etc in the squad and until someone is able to step up to the mark, they'll struggle on with the headless chicken tactics.

I feel kinda sorry for the the team, they have been truly let down by the RFU who bumbled along leaving Robinson in charge for a year too long then appointing someone like Brian Ashton, he is not the man to lead England through this World Cup. At the end of it all, I hope the RFU and the director of Elite Rugby have the cojones to take responsibility for their mistakes and quit, rather than sack Ashton and sit back looking after their own big salary.

  • 71.
  • At 06:18 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Mark wrote:

I approached the World Cup full of hope thinkling that if we could get a full strength team on the park we might surprise a few pundits. However last night - Absolutely clueless and facing a thrashing next week unless there is a massive improvement particularly at the breakdown where the States slowed down the ball and where England simply did not clear out the opposition.

Cueto at 15 is out of his depth. His kicking is poor, and apart from a tackle on the American 14 did little to suggest he has any future at 15. He is a proven try scorer at 14 so play him there. Rating 4

Lewsey played quite well and made a few breaks one of which led to Jason's Try. He is a proven Full Back who tackles with ferocity - ask Rogers! and Kicks like a mule, Play him at 15 Rating 6

Noon was anonymous and was selected on the strength of a tackling performance against the French. Drop him! He can't create and is not quick enough. Tait or Hipkiss at 13 is a far better option. Rating 2

Catt put in a few decent clearances and kicked wide for the Robinson Try but failed to impose hiomself. Time has run out for him as a starter. Might have impact as a replacement. Rating 4

Robinson beat his man a couple of times but was starved of a decent service. Took an easy try well and tackled back brilliantly. Secured his place. Rating 6

Barkley was our best player by far making breaks, demonstrating good acceleration scoring a try and kicking his goals. JW will take his place but he might have cemented the 12 birth. Rating 7

Perry had a poor game but is the best we have at 9 in the absence of the injured Ellis. Worth persevering with as he played well in all of the warm ups but had a bad day at the office. Rating 4

Dallaglio is, I am afraid to say, past it. A great servant and player in his prime he is now too slow, lacking pace and was knocked backwards. Line out work poor and breaks from the back of the scrum too lateral. Time to drop him permanently. Rating 1

Rees was our best forward and gives hope for the future. Quick thinking brought him a try and he was always first to the break down and his tackle count must have been high. On the downside nearly yellow carded towards the end for slowing ball. Will get even better as he gains more experience. A future England Captain. Rating 6

Worsley did not have the impact I expected and was a little anonymous. Did not carry sufficiently and failed to make any real impact either in the loose or at the set pieces. Rating 4

Shaw was a force on his own ball and made a couple of runs but needs to be used more as a ball carrier close to the rucks in order to get over the gain line to set a target for the rest of the pack and to get quick ball. Rating 4

Kay surprised me as I had started to think that his best days were behind him but he played well winning line out ball, disrupting the Americans and featuring in the loose showing good soft hands on a number of occasions. Rating 5

Vickery would not be my choice as either skipper or tight head. Injuries have taken their toll and he is not the Raging Bull we once knew. His performance yesterday was uninspiring and he did not lead well. That said it is a difficult task to lead from the front row. Rating 3

Regan failed to show the sort of passion he demonstrated in the warm up matches but is worth another chance against the Boks. Throwing in was patchy but the jumpers must share blame. Rating 3

Sheridan made one 30 metre burst off a rolling maul in the second half to show what he is capable of. Powerful in the tight England need to use him more as a line breaker. Rating 6

My team for next week?

15 Lewsey
14 Cueto
13 Tait/Hipkiss
12 Barkley/Farrell
11 Robinson (Capt)
10 Wilkinson
9 Perry
8 Easter
7 Rees
6 Worsley
5 Kay
4 Shaw
3 Stevens
2 Regan
1 Sheridan

16 Richards
17 Tait/Hipkiss
18 Barkley/Farrell
19 Vickery
20 Chuter
21 Corry
22 Moody

  • 72.
  • At 06:35 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • raysright wrote:

This was an England performance based on getting a win and avoiding injuries.
There was never a chance that USA would be good enough to beat any England team. What we saw was a low key safety first get the points game.
The next match is where the men have to be counted and the real work begins. We have a good chance of acheiving this and realistically if we do not then it will be a real struggle thereafter.
Rugby is game of changing fortunes, apart from the AB's most nations have periods of good,great & poor form. It makes for excitement and we can see the game evolving from one era to the next - its never dull. So come England prove the scoffers wrong.

  • 73.
  • At 07:04 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Quinsfan87 wrote:

This game was so bad, I didn't even notice Dallaglio being sent to the bin! Want as win against the boks? No Chance on this form! How about Samoa then? Hmm, maybe we can lose respectabily against them. Lets try and win against Tonga, to make it a successful WC! C'mon Ashton! Last time I checked we weren't a tier 2 nation! But as always, Im gonna end up sticking with you no matter what. ( At least this way all the glory supporters will go and I'll have an even better chance to go to matches hehe)

  • 74.
  • At 07:51 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Kiwiinsaudi wrote:

Woeful - on that performance Samoa will be rubbing their hands with glee. can not see england getting past pool play.

  • 75.
  • At 07:53 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Wedge wrote:

It was also a deeply cynical game from England. Maybe I'm getting old, but on a world showcase we shouldn't see (shouldn't have to see?) shirt tugging from an England team - and the awful hanging around offside having been ejected forwards from rucks/mauls arms held out wide with and innocent look on their face whilst they back into the scrum half....

  • 76.
  • At 08:01 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Pomme stuck in NZ wrote:

There's not an awful lot to add to previous comments. I just wanted to invite you all to play a new game. Whenever England have the ball in a ruck, wait until you see the ball at the back of the ruck and see how many insults you can fit in before Perry finally passes the ball. I could get long, well formed arguments questioning his wit, vision and parentage. Remember don't make them too simplistic you'll have plenty of time. It's a lot more enjoyable than watching the rugby.

  • 77.
  • At 08:07 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Stringer wrote:

I agree with your ratings but I felt Ashton would only get a 4 for his use of substitutes. Corry surely should have replaced Dallaglio.Tait should have replaced Noon and Stevens should have had most if not all of the second half.
As to the game itself. The USA were never going to lie down and let us put a shed load of points past them.
Wales will find that second tier team Canada will be just as dogged and competitive this afternoon.
Which makes the demolition of Italy all the more of a great NZ result.

  • 78.
  • At 08:55 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • fran wrote:

I genuinely thought that with a relatively injury free squad for once we might just surprise a few people. Think the only surprise after yesterday was just how awful we were. Someone else commented that watching England is like watching a veterans game - very slow and one dimensional and he was absolutely right. It was agonising and embarrassing to watch.

Think we wll struggle against Samoa let alone SA. Changes? Well there is no quick fix I would think Regan, Kay, Worsley and Lol could be replaced with Titters, Corry, Moody and Easter and maybe try Farell and Hipkiss in the centres?? Straw clutching really. 4 breaks in the whole game a worry though not as worrying as the coach saying he has no idea what went wrong! Doom and gloom.

  • 79.
  • At 09:33 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • mike wrote:

themes all the way through the discussion...
Vickery and Dallagio un-inspiring and "old-manning" it.
We either set up to defend and play within ourselves and just go out to disrupt and use size and commitment to hold sides then capitalise on scraps to score (like Argentina on Friday), or we try to pick a side that scores present does not do either.
The two players which showed some nous on the SA tour Easter and Tait have disappeared practically. Catt stands flat and hurls wide passes to flatter runners work off the ball to support (just look at the All Blacks, their work to retain depth and give options is another world.
Our game plan and setting up a ruck, standing over it for 2 minutes (which against SA will mean we have to put at least 8 forward and 2 backing in the ruck to stop them disrupting) means we cut down every option going.
Bring back Moody - best supporting backrow in the squad!!

team for SA (we have to be abrasive and front up)
Moody (Rees unlucky, but hrses for courses - would probably play against any other team at presant but SA back row is huge)
Perry (in absence of anyone else)
Wilko (Barkley)
Barkely (Farrell)
Noon (only for physicality at start)

Rees, Sackey, Kay, Catt to base the bench around..

  • 80.
  • At 09:45 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Stephen wrote:

England WILL raise their game against the boks... but will still lose.

We will struggle against the south sea islanders too and it may come down to place kicking that gets us through.

Watch any tri-nations team and watch how fast the ball is re-cycled AND then distributed to the three-quarters (or indeed a rampaging back-rower), who are then coming onto the ball at pace AND from depth (thus being able to see whose in front of them and where the gaps are). You cannot do anything with slow ball! Defensives are too well organised.

England's speed of re-cycling is and has been ponderous, for a very, very, very, very long time. Ireland, Scotland and Wales have learnt and play with more urgency!

Watch any tri-nations team and see how the first players (be they backs or forwards) to the breakdown wipe out any opposition trying to gather the ball. They are dumped! Thus allowing free access to the ball... and fast release.

England's players reach the breakdown and then seem to take a break, lean on the jumble of bodies in front and gather their breath, ready for the next mass rumble down the field, which does nothing and goes nowhere. (Ok, 5 yards out, then maybe it's on, but it's not the only option!)

Watch any tri-nations team and see how their players (ALL of them!) have fantastic ball handling skills, both in open and tight situations.

I cringe when I see 2 or 3 forwards in the England back-line, it's almost like you can hear their thought processes: "err, oh it's the ball... erm, what am I doing out here... oooh, isn't it a nice day... err, what do I do with this oval thing again..." CRUNCH!!! [Some of our backs are not too dis-similar either]

Agreed! Rees, Lewsey and Barkley played well. Everyone else was sub-standard. Seems the English tactic, under both Ashton and Robinson before him, is to bring them down to our level, play 8 man Rugby and hope we can place kick our way to victory!

But bear in mind, '03 wasn't that different, it's just we'd built up a head of steam by then and had momemtum.

Always hopeful, always English.

Swing Low, Sweet Chariot...

  • 81.
  • At 09:48 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • col wrote:

We need some leadership, don't feel that vickery is man to do it. He does not have the presence or charisma (seen his interviews!! yawn..) Good prop though.

  • 82.
  • At 09:49 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Mike B wrote:

Always good to read various comments, so much so that I thought I'd add a few myself.

If Lewsey has been England's best back for the last few years, God help the rest. I admire him hugely but he has not actually scored or set up many tries in the last 4 years - he is technically very reliable but hardly inspiring.

Jason Robinson has lost the ability to beat his man one on one - he had 3 opportunities yesterday and failed each time. Ditto for his prowess in the 2 French games and even against the pitiful Welsh team at Twickenham. In fact, when did he last beat an opponent one on one like he used to do routinely?

If you want to sort out the line out throwing where Chuter was 4 timres worse than the struggling Regan, then Lee Mears is your man. And while you're at it, bring in Steve Borthwick for athleticism, determination and his fantastic work rate. Omit either Shaw or Kay as they were both below par.

I can't stand Corry because of his incessant verbals, but he is better than Dallaglio at No 8. Bring Laurence on for the last 20 minutes like Wasps do - his major benefit is off the field these days.

And as for Rees as being England's best forward, he took his try well but for an openside, he only popped up 4 or 5 times otherwise. Hardly impressive or dominant! Any of the AB forwards were more influential - against better opposition.

Samoa must now really fancy their chances aginst England ... and with some justification it has to be said.

Shock The World? Absolutely, but with how poor they have become. (And that is based on the last few years' of England performances.)

World Champions - RIP.

  • 83.
  • At 09:58 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Unfortunately(!?) I only saw an hour of the game yesterday, for the South Africa game I would go with the following side assuming Wilko is fit:

15 Lewsey - the Cueto experiment hasn't worked and Josh is the most suitable fullback for the job
14 Cueto - great scoring record from the wing so lets get him back there
13 Noon - whilst I would prefer Tait for his breaks I don't feel that the 12/13 partnership would have enough physicality for the Boks
12 Barkley - bright and enterprising against the US, fully earned another start
11 Robinson - natural finisher and has to start
10 Wilkinson - proven world class performer
9 Perry - poor against the US but deserves another shot
8 Easter - LD was poor against the US and Easter has rarely let us down in his brief international career so far
7 Rees - the only natural open side in the squad
6 Moody - need to see some fire and spark in the back row
5 Kay - just over Borthwick
4 Shaw - standout choice
3 Vickery - he's the captain and deserves one more chance to secure his spot in the side
2 Regan - poor lineout vs US but previous performances deserve another shot
1 Sheridan - a positive of sorts from the US and an easy selection

Subs: Stevens, Chuter, Borthwick, Dallaglio, Richards, Farrell, Tait

And clutching at straws, we have a win off of English soil for the first time in several years...

  • 84.
  • At 10:04 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • raysright wrote:


What is all the fuss about ?

England could have beaten the USA with their third team. The result was always going to be a win and the necessary points taken.

They have emerged unscathed - why put in a huge effort when it is not necessary. Winning tournaments is about timing, planning and tactics - they got this one right. The next game is the big one for English asperations - should they win then its all systems go....if they lose then its a struggle to survive.

The drivel I have read above about how we are definitely set to lose against South Africa - there is no such thing as a dead sert in Rugby at this level. (apart from doing in minor nations like USA)

National pride can get that adrenalin going and players can perform way above the norm. Look how many times England in their heyday were denied a Grand Slam by our neighbours - who apparantly had no chance.

Winning games by huge scores is no spectacle - just a one-sided romp...who wants to see that time and again. Okay we know NZ & Australia are leagues above recent opposition. However as a game of Rugby with sheer endeavour I would not mind betting those fans who watched Argentina & France got better value for their money. As a Englishman I was very happy with the result !

So lets get behind our lads for once and stop pronouncing doom and gloom - enjoy the rugby - its a great game.

  • 85.
  • At 10:10 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Peter Stevens wrote:

Only a couple of points to make really and pleased to see thta most people agree on this blog. Vickery and Dallyglo should not even be in the team. It seems obvious to me Stevens is a better tighthead now and Easter is miles ahead of Dayglo. Why oh why is Haskell not in the team either?

  • 86.
  • At 10:10 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Buy862s wrote:

I agree with many that Ashton seems not to know what his best team is and is relying on names of old to put in one last big performance.

Dolly should be holding his head in shame this morning for getting sin binned with only a few minutes left and whilst his past achievements should always be recognised it is time for his international career to end.

Energy and enthusiasm count for a lot which is why Moody should come in at 6, Corry at 8 (he is one dimensional but he has the physical prescence to at least compete with the Boks.

Perry has never convinced me is or could be the genuine article, Barkley should play where he has for club at country at inside centre with Cueto and Lewsey swapping wings. I would also give Tait a run. If we can't beat the boks in the back with brute force then surely we should try to get them to sing to our tune with guile and pace.

At least if or when we don't win this tournament we are laying some foundations for the next.

My team would be

Mears - for mobility
Vickery - although he's lucky
Richards - Bit more urgency to get the ball away
Wilko - Best 10 we have ever had

We are due to fire at some stage, law of averages if nothing else, lets hope its against the Boks

  • 87.
  • At 10:17 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • I. wrote:

I really think that these ratings are far too generous, and that the praise being heped upon certain players is ridiculous. 9 for Barkley is is very easy for a premiership 10 (and indeed with previous international experience) to play well against a team of half-amateurs. In my humble opinion, no england player should be above a 6, Barkley possibly taking that spot. This is the USA we are talking about, not NZ or Oz or SA! England SHOULD have put 60 points on them, but didn't even look like getting anywhere near that. No disrespect is meant here to the USA - but a fully professional team from the country with the largest player base in the world should be able to walk such games, due to them having infinitely more training and playing hardened premiership week in, week out, as opposed to the players from the USA (not all, some are good operators!) who train 2 hours a week. England should be worried ahead of SA.

  • 88.
  • At 10:20 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • liam meighan wrote:

I think I have found Brian Ashton' plan! Scrape past the minnows and play at half strength, get hammered by South Africa and pick up no injuries, and qualify in second place. All other teams think you are past it and are there for the taking, only for England to break out of their shell and wallop the opposition, who have played 100% all of the time.
In reality I feel that, like the Swallows in Autumn, the Webb Ellis Trophy is heading South of the Equator!

  • 89.
  • At 10:23 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Terry Thomas wrote:

At the breakdown the English forwards looked lost and clueless and numerous instances of forwards looking on at the action. The ball spent more time at the base of an English ruck than it did in hand. Whilst England decided what to do with it the Yanks got their defence together.
I realise we needed to avoid injuries but surely not at the expense of commitment. Watch the Welsh and Irish if you want to see examples of that.
Outside the scrum we showed little penetration or threat. The scrum half link is very poor from both options with the service preceded by two, sometimes three, faltering steps. Can we persuade Dawson to have one more season? Tait has to come in at centre we have no pace in that position and Farrell is not the answer.
Dallaglio had a terrible game and looked like an old cart hoarse lumbering around, invariably being pushed backwards. But for his posturing off the action the cameras would have had little to show of him. That will be his last game for England. We need an athletic No.8 who goes forward
Worsley looked very uncomfortable with the ball in his hand and has still not mastered the basics of passing. As for Vickery, he surely can’t put that down as a game to remember?
There will be 30 points between the sides on Friday and on this showing we will not make the preliminary stages

  • 90.
  • At 10:32 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Stig wrote:

What a frustrating match to watch. Didn’t seem to be any desire or imagination. Too rigid in thought and execution. I think we know that they are better than that, just wish it would click at some stage. We are going to be very pushed to beat Tonga or Samoa on that showing. Forget SA. Still, there are the players, so lets hope it does click..

As many others have pointed out, the centres are a mess. Been for a while and that much was again apparent by halftime. But if Ashton really wanted to explore options before the SA game, why did he wait till about 10 minutes before the end? Bonkers. I would go with Farrell and Tait – simple because in the few moments they came on both looked sharp. The idea that Tait still lacks physicality is a bit hackneyed – anyone watch him last season? He’s not a bish bosh, but surely you don’t want that at 13? Guscott anyone? What he has is pace, and Farrell started to show glimpses of being able to find a gap which that pace could exploit (pity, then, that when Ashton put Tait on, he put him on the wing???)

Back three the same but like others I’d swap Lewsey and Cueto around. Wilko ahead of a benched Barkely if fit (which I doubt) and Barkely can cover a few positions, including 12 if Farrell gets it wrong. Richards ahead of Perry – I’m sick of screaming at the TV when Perry stands at the back of a ruck marshalling a pod of forwards into position and thus telegraphing to the re-organising defence what’s coming next. Just get the bloody thing out and away before the defence can work out what’s going on. If the forwards aren’t there, don’t wait for them.

Up front I thought Rees had a great game. So he starts, but with a bit of oomph to compensate (and most definitely not Dallagio). I’d go with either Corry or Easter at 8, Corry by a whisker. Worsley to start at 6, then Moody to come on with a decent spell. Kay and Shaw. Front row Stevens, Reagan (just) and Sheridan (who started to regain some of the attacking forays of before – just a pity there were no others in support, which is why I’d like Moody to be given a decent run). Captain starts from the bench (he didn’t look fit did he?) So:

1 - Sheridan
2 - Reagan
3 - Stevens
4 - Kay
5 - Shaw
6 - Worsley
7 - Rees
8 - Corry
9 - Richards
10 - Wilkinson
12 - Farrell
13 - Tait
14 - Cueto
11 - Robinson
15 – Lewsey

Bench to include:

Chuter, Vickery, Moody, Gomersall, Barkely.

  • 91.
  • At 10:38 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Concerned Craig wrote:

An exciting game to follow. Had Vickery gone to the bin or been shown red then England would have been under even more pressure.

USA seem to have adopted a rush defense but lacked a very good kicking or counter attack game. Why did it take England so long to work out that simple short kicks with chasers were the best way to avoid the rush defense?
How can they beat an SA rush defense if they can't counter the US?
Instead England unconvincingly tried to move the ball around in the space that they had.

England should now be relieved to be playing Samoa (who are already in injury trouble) after Samoa have been softened up by SA and Tonga.

  • 92.
  • At 10:52 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jay wrote:

That performance would appear to contradict the idea that the major problem with the England side was that there was not enough time to train together as a team. I've been very disappointed with Ashton's selections. How can he still not know who he wants to play in the centre? Why is Vickery captain when he is not assured of his place? Rees looked determined to cement his place in the side, what's the betting that Haskell would have done the same, maybe even Easter? I can't help thinking that even with their defensive weaknesses, we should have taken the likes of Flood and Gerahty, to at least give these players more experience with a view to building a good back division for the future.

  • 93.
  • At 10:54 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Leo Ryan wrote:

Here everytime england have a game the english think that if a player has a bad game then hes a bad player and if they have a good game then they are a great player, olly barkely had a decent game but he was against USA and i dont think he did a very good job at directing the attack because it sure didnt work well, and iain dickinsin saying that Andy Farrell should play just because of 5 minutes of good play?? I doesnt make sense you dont just pick players according to one game against the USA!

  • 94.
  • At 11:03 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • tom2dads wrote:

Are you dreaming. Judging by your scoring and summation, one would think we won this game handily.

An average score or 5.8 for the starting fifteen? Are you sure. That in my book is a pass mark. If you think England passed, that not very torrid examination yesterday, then the value of the coinage has been seriously devalued.

Sadly, people like you and other respondents agreeing with your mail are symptomatic of why British rugby is so limp.

  • 95.
  • At 11:16 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • tom2dads wrote:

Foot tripping is sending off offence. Vickery was lucky not to be shown a straight red. (and miss the SA game - which he still might do, if cited).

Things are more serious for us than many of the wets in the RFU imagine or are letting on.

  • 96.
  • At 11:19 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Glawsfan wrote:

Thoroughly depressing performance.

The problem is, the players with creativity, flair and invention in the English game are sat at home waiting to play their first GP game next weekend.

To think that England Saxons beat the USA 51-3 in May.

  • 97.
  • At 11:32 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Lambo wrote:

The problems are many and varied, but leadership was one thing that was clearly lacking, not just from the appointed captain, but from other senior players. Much as I like Vickery as a player, he was ineffective yesterday as both Captain and player, and his trip was inexcuseable. Banned or not he should be dropped. Dalaglio? A national treasure but its time for the museum, old boy. Catt defies age, but a wise head to bring off the bench when all around are losing theirs.

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter (Chabal beard gets him the nod)
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Cozzer (c - we need a presence)
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Easter
9. Perry
10. Wilko
11. Sacky
12. Berkley
13. Robinson
14. Cueto
15. Lewsey

Our chnaces of ever retaining the trophy were slim. I'm not the first to lament younger players being left at home - Flood, Haskell and co would have benefitted from this experience for 2011, when they'll surely be around.

  • 98.
  • At 11:40 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • ross wrote:

Dunno why everyone's so desperate to see Wilkinson back for the boks game. England have no chance at all of beating SA on current form, and he'll only get injured again, so they're better off not risking him and getting him all fit in time for Samoa, which is going to be the crucial game...

Has to be said though, as a South African, there was a local currie cup game on yesterday at the same time as Eng v US and flicking between channels there was a clear divide in the standard of rugby.. England's players, with the exception of Lewsey who is class, aren't even on a par with the players SA left back home... It's not a matter of just players out of position -- there simply isn't anything there, there's no leadership or ingenuity on the pitch. To be 6-3 up after half an hour of rugby against the USA in a world cup match is just pitiful for England -- I don't care if they were all being played out of position.

  • 99.
  • At 11:50 AM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Brookes of Sheffield wrote:

England were rubbish, I don't think that's in doubt. Ashton needs to be bold and make the changes required for the match against the Boks.

The front 5 - I would have liked to say they pick themselves, but Vickery and Regan were useless. Stevens should replace Vickery, but as for who plays hooker, I shouldn't think anyone knows. They all seemed as hopeless as each other. Chuter probably gets my nod - I'm hoping that his poor form yesterday was simply due to lack of recent game time - and then we pray that he produces on the big stage. Shaw and Kay deserve their places, and England must use Sheridan more in the loose.

Blindslide - I've not been convinced by Worsley. Makes his tackles, he does (as Yoda might say, if he was a rugby fan), but he's still absolutely cack-handed when actually holding the ball himself. No dynamism or vision whatsoever. We can't beat the Boks by defence alone. Moody should start: he's a natural blindslide, and does not give away half the penalties when actually playing in his proper position. England need his flair, energy and tenacity.

Openside - playing anyone else in this position would be square pegs in round holes (one of the things I hate coaches doing in any sport), so Rees has to start. He's not playing badly.

Dallaglio was absolutely effing useless yesterday - worse than useless, he was a liability. Corry will probably stike more fear in Springbok hearts than Easter.

Perry at scrum-half, and hope yesterday was a one-off because he knew we'd win anyway. It's often hard to maintain your level under those conditions. Not a Richards fan.

Barkley is the form player, and what really shone yesterday was his kicking from hand. That will be vital against the Boks and I do not trust Wilkinson, even if fit (which he probably won't be) to deliver (Italy Six Nations match, anyone?).

Catt and Hipkiss at 11 and 12 against the Boks, with Tait playing the Samoa match. Nothing else convinces: certainly not Noon (not if you want to score tries, anyway), though maybe Farrell for the last 10 minutes if, hoping against hope, we're in a position to chuck the ball around.

Back 3 - Lewsey at full-back, Cueto and Robinson on the wings. Or something...

It's all a bit wing-and-prayer, really. Ashton wasted too much time beforehand messing around with inferior line-ups (Farrell, Noon: Catt and Hipkiss, the form players, should have had time to get a partnership together). We shouldn't get near the Boks, and don't deserve to either, but it's worth giving it a proper go, if only for the pride. Getting really hammered by the South Africans will double the chances of losing against Samoa. Ashton has to pick his best for the SA game and hope they all come out the other end in one piece.

  • 100.
  • At 12:03 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Luke Collins wrote:

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Corry
9. Perry
10. Barkley
11. Lewsey
12. Catt
13. Hipkiss
14. Cueto
15. Robinson

This is the team that should start the next game. Hipkiss is still unproven at international level but needs a chance to prove himself. He has proved himself a force to be reckoned with in the premiership. Once wilkinson is fit he will be straight back in the side.

Yesterday also proved that dallaglio is past it. If he plays in another world cup match it will be a a big mistake. There are much more talented number 8's than him in the squad. I think he showed yesterday that it was a mistake to even take him to france!

  • 101.
  • At 12:12 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Reuben wrote:

Reality flashed before our eyes with England's less than impressive performance yesterday. Both the Blacks and the Aussies showed us how to play disciplined and accurate rugby. Neither were overly flamboyant they took their opposition seriously and kicked when necessary and attacked when it was on. Then up stepped England and did the opposite. We were pitiful. Pushed back in the scrum, appalling in the line out, especially in the second half and continued with this infuriating constant use of the miss pass. Even at school we were taught to use the ball to draw the tackler before releasing it along the line. Make the ball do the work. Instead England employs the miss pass and makes it easy for the drift defence to line up their man. Maybe Mr Major was right, we should go back to basics…

Dropping a player like Worsley for a penalty generating machine like Moody is crazy. What we are going to need against the Boks is a decent defence, and there is no better 6 in the country at taking down the opposition. Cueto is not a full back, his positioning yesterday was all wrong. Lewsey should be given back the position he held at the last world cup to such great effect. As for Lawrence, I am sure we will see a performance from him against the Boks. He is that kind of player.

I fear the Samoans.

  • 102.
  • At 12:29 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • raysright wrote:


What is all the fuss about ?

England could have beaten the USA with their third team. The result was always going to be a win and the necessary points taken.

They have emerged unscathed - why put in a huge effort when it is not necessary. Winning tournaments is about timing, planning and tactics - they got this one right. The next game is the big one for English asperations - should they win then its all systems go....if they lose then its a struggle to survive.

The drivel I have read above about how we are definitely set to lose against South Africa - there is no such thing as a dead sert in Rugby at this level. (apart from doing in minor nations like USA)

National pride can get that adrenalin going and players can perform way above the norm. Look how many times England in their heyday were denied a Grand Slam by our neighbours - who apparantly had no chance.

Winning games by huge scores is no spectacle - just a one-sided romp...who wants to see that time and again. Okay we know NZ & Australia are leagues above recent opposition. However as a game of Rugby with sheer endeavour I would not mind betting those fans who watched Argentina & France got better value for their money. As a Englishman I was very happy with the result !

So lets get behind our lads for once and stop pronouncing doom and gloom - enjoy the rugby - its a great game.

I have to say it was a diabolical performance against a powerful, hard-working but essentially limited US side?

Ratings? Subtract 2 from every Englishman and you'd be closer to the mark.

Samoa will beat us if we play like that against them.

  • 104.
  • At 12:34 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jim wrote:

The problem with the Engloand side is NOT one of individual players, but one of teamwork.

Every nation that wins the RWC does so becuase it has the best TEAM not the best players- that is certainly how we won the last RWC.

What we need are some strongly decisive leaders to get some team cohesion and get the individuals playing as one. In the backs someone needs to stand up and say "right, run the angles, take the ball from deep and commit men- stop drifting". On saturday we had the situation on a number of times where 10 wanted to do one thing and 12 another- this does not work. We need one person who decides after a few phases to break the game up with a chip or simliar- knowing that the back 3 will chase it! At the moment the only person with the tactical ability and respect from the rest of the team is Wilko. Frankly anyone can kick, run and tackle but it's tactical ability we need.

Our forwards are big and strong, but don't trust the backs- hence the slow ball- they don't want to give the ball out. We need a scrum half who bosses the forwards, mkes sniping runs but knows when and how to clear it wide. It's back to leadership again.

I fully beleive that our front 8 can steup to any world class team both in the set pieces and free play- they haev both the pace of youth and calm head of experience. Most of our front 8 on saturday didn't have a great game- probably because even they knew that they could put zero effort in and still win- which is exactly what happened. yes Lal didn't haev a good game, but he's not being employed to play like a 22yr old, he's playing to pull the team together- he didn't do very well last time, but i firmly beleive he ups his game when he has to and drags the rest of the team with him. He is not a miracle worker in himself anymore, but helps create a TEAM.

Can we win the world cup? yes, but only if Ashton creates a group of players who trust each other, and manegement, implicitly; they will then have the confidence to play an expansive calm game as we all know they can on an individual basis.

England team- calm the hell down- realise that you can win and lpay with passion and belief.

  • 105.
  • At 12:48 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

A shocking England performance. Any worse (e.g. not scoring a try when USA were 1 man down earlier in the match), and they should have just collected their passports and gone home.

Given the way they played against the All Blacks, Italy would have demolished that England performance.

But the refereeing was appalling too.

Vickery should have been in the bin for his obvious and cynical trip - the ref was right on top of it and should have seen it. If Vickery gets cited for it, he deserves it.

Then there was Emerick's spear tackle on Barkley, which was clearly intentional. Didn't O'Brien explicitly say he wanted spear tackles punished by a red card? They need to be a red card offence, at any point in the match, to send the message to all other teams that intentionally dangerous play will not be tolerated.

Perhaps the rules won't allow Emerick to be cited because it was dealt with during the match. But if so, Kaplan should be censured for failing to deal with it properly. Or are we happy to see another Brian O'Driscoll incident this time round?

  • 106.
  • At 12:52 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Dave in France wrote:

Something puzzles me with all this talk of selecting Wilko IF he is fit. Lets be honest, he's not. Why risk him in the SA game that we all seem to think the Boks will win by a sizeable margin regardless of who plays in a white shirt? Why not give him a real chance to recover and be fit for the games we have an outside chance of winning.

I have the misfortune to have missed the game on tv, since i live in France and dont have satellite, but seems i was lucky, as shabby Engalnd performances always put me in the darkest of moods!

However, this Ashton gambit of playing players out of position MUST STOP! Cueto is not a 15, Lewsey and Robinson can both play 15, although Lewsey seems more comfortable there.
A World Cup is NOT a time to experiment!

  • 107.
  • At 12:59 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Nikolai wrote:

Backline for the game on friday- Perry, Wilko, Cueto, Barkley, Tait, Robinson and Lewsey. I thought Barkley played fairly well and I think he is a more exciting proposition in ther centre than Catty. I find it interesting that Ashton is almost scared to play Tait at Centre even though he proved in South Africa he can cope with there big players and he has a better defence than than he is given credit for.

  • 108.
  • At 01:07 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Steve wrote:

England's problem has been the same for past 2-3 years. They are too slow at the breakdown, commit too many people to the rucks and the ball is painfully slow comming out. Making it easier for defences to adjust.

Quick ball keeps defences on the back foot, just look at NZ/Aus see how they recycle it.

  • 109.
  • At 01:14 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Anthony wrote:

does it bother anyone that the USA is coached by a Kiwi and captained by an Ozzie and their teams seems to be made up of rejects from Samoa, tonga, and wannabe All Blacks? Please name me more than 8 players who are proper yanks and who play state-side! I project that the USA will push both RSA and Samoa and all our hand-wringing will be put in perspective.

Not a great performance but enough to spark a revival and still an improvement on the past 12 months.

  • 110.
  • At 01:40 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • KN Harris wrote:

Joke performance by England. I will be supporting Samoa for the second spot to avoid further humilation at the hands of Australia.

My Aussie friends will be unbearable.

  • 111.
  • At 01:55 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Reuben wrote:

At least we're not Welsh...

  • 112.
  • At 02:33 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Ali Kyrke-Smith wrote:

I quite like the idea of maybe Lewsey at 13, though I think Ashton must be mad to say that he should not play at full back. He looked best yesterday off his wing, and Cueto was distinctly out of sorts at FB - frankly, his kicking was appalling and defensively he's not sound. Barkley should start, not Wilko, though if it comes to it then maybe one of them could play at 12. Rees was awesome. Dallaglio was nowhere near his best but should retain his place.

  • 113.
  • At 02:42 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Lee Buller wrote:

Agree with most of what is said... Still think catt is our best option at 12. He reads the game as is the most likely person to put the back 3 into some space. Not to mention his kicking game which has got us out of alot of trouble before!!!

Vickery isnt doing much, would have stevens in for a monster front row!

1 Sheridan (power)
2 Regan (technically good)
3 Stevens (power)
4 Shaw (plays with his head up)
5 Corry (leadership, gives it 100%)
6 Worsley (need him defensively against SA)
7 Rees (dynamic power, good runner)
8 Dallaglio (will slow the ball down)
9 ??? Big problems, going with perry
10 Wilco (on his day, awesome)
11 Robbinson (someone to challenge habanna!)
12 Catt (Capt) (one of the best readers of the game)
13 Tait (bulked up, great runner)
14 Cueto (HES A WINGER!)
15 Lewesy (looking good, needs to be able to run free, awesome last line of defense!)

  • 114.
  • At 03:24 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Micheal McKee wrote:

Wouldn't rate either Farrell or Berkeley so highly- 9 for the latter suggests an inspirational (rather than solid) performance. I'd go a 7 or maybe 8.

Also- anybody see The Saxons put 50 odd points on the USA in the summer? Maybe you should swap teams...

  • 115.
  • At 03:40 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • aberdrag wrote:

No, Mr Reuben, at least your not Welsh, and thank god I'm not a canuck.
England can and will do much better, and us , well god knows its the usual emotional rollercoaster, see you in the quarters guys, we owe you one from the last time.

BTW Vickery was lucky not to be carded, and old Laurence Bruno whatsit was blowing a bit.

But bags more potential with the younger guys.

  • 116.
  • At 03:55 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Reuben wrote:

Well said aberdrag. Apologies for my hasty comments; at least Wales got the try bonus point more than we could manage against the septics.

  • 117.
  • At 03:55 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jonathan Reuben wrote:

Well said aberdrag. Apologies for my hasty comments; at least Wales got the try bonus point more than we could manage against the septics.

  • 118.
  • At 03:56 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • DC wrote:

englland are terrible
FARRELL?????????????????? why?

  • 119.
  • At 04:56 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Beal wrote:

The word is PEDESTRIAN. Too many people receiving the ball standing still - nowhere near enough depth. Lack of urgency at the breakdown led to too much slow ball and a big struggle to develop any continuity. We seem to play with the aim of recycling the ball and going through phase after phase, rather than that being a means to an end i.e. dynamic and powerful attacking play going forward. The minimum requirement was 4 tries and a comfy win and that has not happened.
Farrell should not be in the squad, his place should have gone to Flood. Dallaglio's time has come, Catt's will very soon, and Chuter? The line-out went to rat-waste after he came on; Regan wasn't perfect but Chuter was awful.
The scrum-half situation is dire: Perry's pass is quick but too often behind the runner; Richards passing is slow; Gomarsall is getting on a bit. I'm half-expecting a call from Ashton myself!
We should pick:
1. Sheridan 9. Perry :(
2. Regan 10. Wilkinson (capt)
3. Stevens 11. Robinson
4. Shaw 12. Barkley
5. Kay 13. Hipkiss
6. Moody 14. Cueto
7. Rees 15. Lewsey
8. Worsley

Bench: Vickery, Mears, Corry, Easter, Gomarsall, Catt, Tait.

Play like that against SA and we will get a pasting, then it will be touch and go against Samoa. However, I sincerely believe that the boys will raise their game and they are capable of competing with the Boks, so bring it on....

  • 120.
  • At 04:56 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • J Ent wrote:

I agree with the scores.

Suggest Moody in for Worsley and Easter in for Dallagio to shake up a ponderous back row. Cueto should be moved back to the wing with Robinson coming into full back. Noon was very ordinary and apart from hsi tackling offers little, ? Tait to replace.

  • 121.
  • At 05:10 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • O'Sullivans_Army wrote:

england were dyer as per usual...last rugby world cup was fluke...sure ireland beat them in their own back yard not to long after it and they didnt win many games since...the all blacks will win this tournament easily there is no point in discussing...the only topic should be who will the all blacks annihilate in the final...Eddie O'Sullivans men for the final!!!!

  • 122.
  • At 05:12 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • andy wrote:

Lots of negative comments above, most of which deserved I'm sad to say. The only glimmer of hope is that the whole team with a couple of exceptions were not playing at their best, but will need to pull their fingers out and turn up to the rest of the games if we are going to make it out of the group. Having watched NZ, Aus and SA it is clear that the trophy will be crossing the equator again - all 3 are simply in a different class to anything the northern hemisphere have to offer. My team changes for SA? Leave the pack largely unchanged, but possibly Moody at 6 and certainly Easter at 8, with Delaglio on the bench where he can still make a big impact in the latter stages of the game. Barkley has earned his shirt, either at 10 or (if wilko is fit) 12 - again Catt on the bench. Switch Lewsey (to 15) and Cueto (to 14).
Don't get me wrong, I'll still be wearing my white shirt and shouting for all I'm worth on Friday, but if I'm honest I'm less than hopefull.

  • 123.
  • At 05:54 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • MarkyB wrote:

A very weak performance, in all aspects, was on display from England on Saturday - lacking the supreme confidence of the Tri-nation teams so far in the tournament, and also lacking the kind of spirit England was showing coming up to the world cup in 2003. Much improvement is going to be needed before friday, if a true contest is going to be on-show. Ashton seems to expect his veteran players to be talismanic for the team, but Dallagio and Catt in particular look tired and weak. The continuing problems at scrum-half and the centres is destroying any decent ball gained by the, generally strong forwards. The team need a bollocking to wake themselves up, and to focus on the monumental task ahead of them; slips in concentration and poor decisions will be strongly punished by the good teams. In terms of selection, changes have to be made after such a faltering, tired and incohesive performance as against the USA.

Personally, I would choose:

1. Sheridan
2. Regan
3. Vikery (c)
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Moody (for his pace, supporting runs and charge-downs etc.)
7. Rees (obviously our best openside)
8. Easter (he always plays well by making lots of hard yards)

9. Richards (perry is slow - in all respects)
10. Wilko (if fit, if not, Barkely)
11. Robinson
12. Farrell (finds gaps and can kick well, along with defensive prowess)
13. Tait (fast feet, pace, creativity)
14. Sackey (a master finisher, and not bad defensively)
15. Lewsey (big, strong, reads game well)

The right team with the right philosophy could beat SA on Friday, although they were very impressive against Samoa today, but massive strides in all departments are needed and I'm just praying that a week is enough time to accomplish them!

  • 124.
  • At 05:56 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Jonny G wrote:

The problem with Ashton is, he doesn't seem to be trying very hard to try and win games. Andy Robinson, although he was awful, clearly picked the strongest team he could and tried to win, even though England were never good enough to win, whereas Ashton picks a team "good" on paper, but not on form at the time.

The fact that Lawrence "complaining" Dallaglio is in the squad shows that England have run out of options and are looking to long past it players to help them, not recalling a quality player; if they were, Martin Johnson might consider lacing up his boots one more time.

Ashton got the England team to face USA wrong from the start. Lewsey, although sadly a Wasps player, should be at full-back, with Robinson and Cueto on the wings.
England have struggled for an outside centre since Greenwood retired, but Hipkiss who, as a Tigers fan myself, is the only one with the skills to take over the 13 shirt, with Farrell inside him; Farrell isn't the best inside centre in England, but what was the point of signing him if we don't play him at the World Cup?
Wilkinson, if fit, is the obvious at fly-half, regardless of how well Barkley has been playing.
Richards needs to be the scrum-half, because Perry is rubbish and Gomarsall is only in the squad because Ellis is injured.
In the front row, it should be Sheridan, Chuter, not Regan, who's too old, and White, but, because White isn't available, there isn't anyone decent to play, so, reluctantly, i must say Matt "cheating Bath player" Stevens instead of Vickery, who isn't a good captain and really should have been sent off for that trip he got away with, and when I say sent off, i mean a red card, although the guy who spear tackled Barkley should have been red carded aswell, I thought the whole point of the new rules were to stamp it out and be very harsh on it, oh well.
Second row: Kay, who's been playing some excellent rugby for Tigers, and Shaw, for the experience.
Dallaglio shouldn't be in the squad for obvious reasons (he's the worst player i've seen in a rugby shirt, and i've seen some pretty bad rugby players), Rees isn't an exceptional player like everyone says, he not bad, just not great, and Worsley's only there because, like before, there's no one else to play there, except maybe Easter, because he doesn't play for Wasps; so my back row would be: Moody at 6, Worsley at 7 and Corry at 8, not second row, he's a cover second row, he only plays there when there are injuries in that position, and obviously, Corry as captain.
The bench is simple: Freshwater, Mears, Borthwick, Easter, Perry, Catt, Tait.

If Ashton picks that team for South Africa we might beat them, but if there's one change, we'll never win.

Obviously, i'm from Leicester and all the Tigers players have been included, although not enough Tigers players are in the squad, and too many Wasps players are in there.
Because Ashton was a Bath man, he hates Tigers, meaning England can't win because their coach can't do his job properly, but even if he hadn't been a Bath man, he wouldn't do it any better than he does.

  • 125.
  • At 06:10 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • greenfields wrote:

Samoa have no lineout, there scrum is poor and they give away unnecessary penalties. Even England can exploit those glaring weaknesses in their game. There big hitters but not alot else from what I can see. I wouldn't write the English off on the USA game just yet. Slow English ball and good defence kept the USA in the game. The performance against SA is everything. Samoa still have it all to do.

On paper the English have a half decent team. I'd put Lewsey at 15. Cueto on the wing. If Wilkinson is fit, Barkley and Cait in the centre. Lawrence to the bench. Rees, Moody (for a bit of passion sorely missed) and Easter in the back row. Front row stays the same as starting selection against USA. Can’t see Ashton dropping his captain, so Vickery needs to stop looking so miserable and get the finger out. Shaw needs to be the player he is. Kay stays also.

England are World Champions and the players need to take responsibility for there title defence. Leaders on the pitch are required. Thought there was indecision at some stages against the US. There was a willingness to force the game where sticking to the basics was better served. As an Irishman I'm really hoping that they live up to the title holders name and get moving against the South Africans. Based on form they have no chance. Based on what they are as a team on paper they can complete next Friday.

  • 126.
  • At 06:12 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Robin hall wrote:

my left ball could play better than england

  • 127.
  • At 06:30 PM on 09 Sep 2007,

I think Ashton has made a huge mistake putting faith into players that are past it. What happened to:

Magnus Lund?
Tom Varndell?
Olly Morgan?
James Haskell?
James Simpson-Daniel?
Tom Palmer?
Toby Flood and Shane Geraghty?

And what does Mathew Tait have to do to get a run?

I beilieve all of these should have been on the plane, at the moment i can't look at the england team and think there are many stars for the future apart from Tom Rees. and maybe Olly Barkley.

This would at least have given those players the experience of a world cup. Plus these young players play with no fear and would certainly be more exciting to watch than the current team.

And what is the fascination with Ashton in saying Lewsey is a wing and nothing else? Overall he's been a great full-back for england.

Mark Cueto is another mystery? Great try scoring record for england yet moved to an unfamiliar full-back role?

  • 128.
  • At 06:36 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Micheal McKee wrote:

Not sure how many of you witnessed South Africa deliver a comprehensive and cohesive drubbing of fairly good quality opponents this afternoon. They're playing with conviction and an on form Brian Habana is going to tear the english defence to shreds. Honestly, I think SA could afford to rest a few players. I'll be hoping England can oprovide at least as much entertainment in defeat as Portugal have against Scotland this afternoon...

  • 129.
  • At 06:49 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Rowlel wrote:

To echo many sentiments already expressed, I sat there in half expectation that perhaps England might perform. I have no problem losing games, as long as the team perform and are beaten by a better team.

I could not see any pattern - nor apprently could the England players - yesterday during the game.

Basic skills were poor, lack of commitment and drive - no leadership - rabbits in headlights springs to mind.

England were never expected to win the world cup - let's be honest, nor should they on the way they have performed over the last few years. This was a great oppoprtunity to give younger players some experience and exposure to international rugby and we have blown it.

The worse thing that could happen now is we beat SA and think we have corrected the problems.

The basic issue with England is too many ego's who think they are good and once selected for the World Cup, simply stopped playing and packed the camera, shorts and sun tan lotion for a nice holiday - all expenses paid in France

  • 130.
  • At 07:01 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • gruff wrote:

i think england are going to strugle without wilkinson because he's the only reason they won it in 2003. they need to start playing a better brand of rugby like new zeland looking to counter attack and off load otherwise they will not go anywere in this tounament or the next


we need all the power we can get to mach the SA front row. We also need pace.
a good reliable accurate thrower- also v mobile and athletic
at the risk of repeating myself for the 3rd time, v mobile but also strong.
good leadership skills and good driver
excellent jumper a we'll need some help intimidating the SA second row
excellent athlete. He could use this world cup as a learning curve
Brilliant at slowing down the rucks and turning he ball over. Well need him.
Good experienced player.
We'll need a physical player like richards to match the springboks
Great defense, good leadrship skills, great kicking for those vital points and a good director
Experienced and kows where the try line is. Very good in defense aswell
He straightens the line well and a decent kicker just incase Wilko gets battered.
Great pace to match the SAns
Also great pace to match the SA wingers
Solid full back- one of the most reliable in the game.

  • 132.
  • At 08:16 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • bewareoftheleopard wrote:

I generally agree with Bryan Palmer's ratings if a little high but may I say a few things about the USA? Surely that was as inspired a performance as they have ever given and if there is to be a nomination for best game plan of the world cup then the USA's is a worthy early nomination . Not only did they have a great plan A which worked so well they also had a great plan B which they implemented when they realised how poor the referee was who allowed them to disrupt so much without impunity for so long.

Furthermore it worries me that England's lack of leadership on the pitch seemed to have no answer to it and even more surprisingly Brian Ashton did not either if the tardiness of his substitutions is anything to go by and to think that only 24 hours earlier Bernard LaPorte had made exactly the same mistake and still Brian takes so long to react. Worrying.

Moreover if he had taken off Vickery, Dallaglio, Worsley and Noon earlier and brought on Stevens,Corry, Moody and Tait instead at least he would have had the opportunity to have seen if he had a plan B to take on the Springboks.

As I do not know why he favours Corry so much anyway (that is as capable at international level of playing in 3 positions)or what Nick Easter has done wrong there is no way I can work out why he continues to play Cueto at fullback or continues to pick Tait in 3 different positions so no teamsheet from me as to what side he will pick for Friday but I would venture to suggest that Shaun Perry would look a damn sight better if the lineout functioned well , his back row offered him a lot more protection and the supposed leaders around him actually did some leading.

If England are to have a chance then I suspect the bench will have to play a huge part in that victory and for that Brian you will have to have all the pieces of your jigsaw in place before Friday. Best of luck

  • 133.
  • At 08:24 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • JD wrote:

Woeful stuff, but the really bad part was the 8-9 combination. Dallaglio looked 4 years (at least) past it; picking up and going sideways or backwards. Call it a day man. Perry? May be good enough for a pub team, but when did anyone think this guy could play international rugby. He is so far off the standard needed its unbelievable. Slow thinker, slow passer, just slow. I'd rather have William Perry at 9. Put Gomers back - at least he understands how to play at that level and can pass and control a set of forwards. Richards is out of his depth. Shame Ellis got injured, at that point all England's opportunity of getting anywhere left. Elsewhere, Vickery past it, Regan ditto, Kay ditto. Rees looks like he would do well in a half decent team. Barclay played well, as he normally does. What is Ashton thinking with Cueto at 15 - that makes me doubt Ashton as its obvious this guy can't play FB, and again its a vital position give everyone confidence. Get him on the wing, and Lewsey at FB. Robinson and Catt looked ponderpous - a shame as both class players. They will do well to beat East Samoa on that showing.

  • 134.
  • At 08:55 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

England were terrible against USA, we had no physicality, urgency or creativity. the only bright sparks were Barkley, Rees and maybe Kay.
it was if we didn't want to win and every time we had the ball we just ran into them expecting them to be scared and fall over. here is my team for SA:

1. Sheridan - strong in the scrum and good with the ball

2. Chuter - had a great season at Leicester and is better line out thrower

3. Stevens - merely because Vickery is in terrible form

4. Kay - proved a good line-out jumper and has good hands

5. Corry - also good line-out jumper (maybe gives a fair few pens away) and on a good day he's hard to tackle

6. Moody - always hunting for the ball and gets countless tries off the back of mauls

7. Rees - fast, physical and loves to run through people

8. Easter - great in all areas and should have been no.8 in the first place

9. Richards - Dynamic and great with the ball in hand. Not as reliable as Perry but england must make risks

10. Wilkinson - quite simply amazing and a great leader

11. Robinson - amazing finisher, not quite Habana yet on one on ones but he is still as nippy as hell

12. Barkley - proved himself against USA, posing a running threat as well as a good kicker. Would be great next to wilko

13. Hipkiss - just over Tait because he's strong, fast and is great with the ball

14. Sackey - god i miss Strettle but Sackey is a a threat and is great with the ball for wasps

15. Lewsey - Regaining his form and is a superb tackler

The mistake was made 4 years ago not by Brian Ashton who has picked an experienced set of players to limit the damage. So far as I see it they now have to beat Samoa by one point to get to the quarter final which is probably all they will do. best thing for us all to do is drink alot and forget it and hope that when they get back from France the RFU put in place a real plan for the next world cup so we are not going to be an embarassment again.

All the players (from all teams) might as well enjoy themselves cos New Zealand are not going to slip up again after the last 4 world cups. Maybe this was the plan anyway- at least we can say they won against a weak England Team.

  • 136.
  • At 09:34 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

I am amazed that everyone has suddenly written off England off the back of one poor game (okay, a couple of years worth but everything has been geared towards this tournament). Ireland have just struggled even worse against Namibia, yet the way people are talking both these teams will now be on the first plane home (yet both are played 1, won 1)!? It is the first game of the RWC, for these smaller teams its their final and they were always going to come out firing in game 1. This is a world cup group game, all that matters is winning. Lets wait until Friday before we write England off - sure there is a concern about the lack of physicality in the last game, but Id be surprised if that same lack of physicality is still around during the Springboks game when its really time to front up.

Look at the team sheet, its not half bad. I think Ashton needs to take a large part of the blame (eg not playing Lewsey at fulll back, and the mess at centre), but there are players on this team that will rise to the challenge. There are teams out there that certainly have more talent, but wasnt that the same last world cup?

Our real problem is at 9, im not sure Perry is even a decent club player. Gomarsall has to come in for the next game. Centre is also a concern - theres not much creativity, so go for pure brawn (Farrell and Noon), play the Boks at their own game. Tait is a great player, but id worry hed get demolished at 13 against the Boks. Lewsey has to start at 15. Moody needs to come in at 6 to add the spark - am surprised by the lack of impact at the breakdown from the all-wasps back row.

Lets not start writing them off just yet... there has been one awful performance, but we will know more this time next week.

  • 137.
  • At 09:41 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Dry wrote:

I was at the match in Lens and could not believe how dire england were. The crowd were so bored the mexican wave went around 4 times! Friday looks like a disaster waiting to happen!

  • 138.
  • At 09:51 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

Yes, another team but this is the team i think should play South Africa

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Corry
6. Worsely
7. Rees
8. Dallalio
9. Perry
10. Wilko
11. Cueto
12. Tait
13. Noon
14. Robinson
15. Lewsey

  • 139.
  • At 09:55 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Lee Turner wrote:

Yes, another team but this is the team i think should play South Africa

1. Sheridan
2. Chuter
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Corry
6. Worsely
7. Rees / Moody
8. Dallalio
9. Perry
10. Wilko
11. Cueto
12. Tait
13. Noon
14. Robinson
15. Lewsey

  • 140.
  • At 10:11 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Macleod wrote:

I thought England were really, really poor and after haveing watched all of ou home nations now, I'd saay England were the worst, followed closely by the Irish. the difference being I think Ireland will improve, whereas England will opnly get worse, or stay at the level they are at. After also seeing SA play Samoa today, I think England have got a real job on their hands to even qualify from their pool. They haven't got a hope against South Africa, especially since the game is in 6 days. They do not have enough time to prepare and SA are too far ahead of them in every department. I think there new "crunch game" will be Samoa, and after Samoa have seen the Eng v USA game, they will be right up for beating England to go through.
It is also very dissapointing and annoying to hear the presenters and commentators constantly going on about England in virtually every game that is in TV. unless they are playing, there is no need for it. As usual- too over confident, and they will be brought right back down to earth on Friday night by a rampant SA side unfortunately

  • 141.
  • At 10:40 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • Charles Engel wrote:

Perhaps it has to be said that from here we can only get better. Whilst i am in agreement with all the pessamists here, we're DOOMED! I think a vital point to be made is that despite a lack of cohesion in the team as individuals we have a great selection to choose from. The point of course that im trying to make is that in rugby pressure in a match can bring out a TEAM performace. It is with the hope that both Tonga and Samoa make strong opponents and England respond, if we can win convincingly in those games perhaps real English performances will follow..... perhaps. I still have faith, its a good squad. Third or fourth surely.

  • 142.
  • At 10:54 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • steve d wrote:

15. Lewsey
14. Sackey
13. Hipkiss
12. Catt
11. Robinson
10. Barkley
9. Gomersal
1. Sheridan
2. Mears
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Borthwick (Capt)
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Easter

Res: Freshwater, Shuter, Corry, Worsley, Richards, Tait, Cueto.

  • 143.
  • At 11:48 PM on 09 Sep 2007,
  • ctod wrote:

It was a bad performance by an unmotivated team. By now it must be clear to ashton that dallaglio is over the hill, and real questions should be posed of the centre partenership... where is hipkiss?? Lewsey should be at the back for the match against s.a.... I can only hope that sackey will have a seat on the stand, far from the pitch, having seen the way the samoans delt with habana....

  • 144.
  • At 12:00 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • M Boswell wrote:

I can't argue too much with the ratings but changes must be made. Given whichever squad gos in wil be relatively new this might be an excuse for wholesale changes and BA adopting his usually less pragmatic approach. Sadly I imagine we'll see little in the way of changes.

Changes must be made, starting with the captain. Ineffective and worryingly gave ground at the set piece. Sterner tests will follow. His captaincy seems only to extend to giving dejected looks as well. Cynical foul was idiocy and not what you expect of a leader. Stevens is twice the player Vickery is now.

Secondly either Shaw or Kay must go in the second row. Too often Shaw shows his narrow-mindedness and he would be my preference. Borthwicks dynamism is a must and with a top South African line-out Corry must not be considered at second row. Dynamism is needed, Corry doesn't offer this anymore.

The back row needs to see the biggest changes. If you can't beat the Americans consistently at the breakdowns you haven't got a hope in hell of beating South Africs. Dallaglio and Worsley were too often away from the breakdown and loitering. Dallaglio can no longer inject any dynamism; and though his intense personality may be useful in the closing moments, Easter must start. Lewis Moody must play blindside to inject some much needed pace and commitment at the breakdown. Worsley is a one-trick pony offering little else than good defence.

Fewer changes in the backline. Barkley and Catt must start. Wilko cannot control a game behind a faltering pack and there wil be a need for scores. There is no point picking a defensive side because our most defensive side can't defend well enough. Therefore we need to score tries and we need players who can attack, cue Barkley and Catt.

Tait must prouce some creativity at outside centre, and Cueto must go. Mentally not in it, leaving Abendanon seems a huge mistake. Lewsey must drop back to fullback where he has had a few bad games but Cueto has never had a good game at fullback. Sackey should add some pace to the wing.

One of the hardest things to do is admit your wrong and I don't expect Ashton to. I imagine the next team picked will bear a striking resemblance to this. I'd love to be proved wrong.

And please will the media stop overplaying the importance of Wilkinson. A good past does not guarentee a good future plus it will damage team morale. As Martin Johnson said, 14 other gys got Wilkinso into the position to score that drop goal. Later adding it doesn't matter if Wilkinsons not available, it's irrelevant, all of these players should be able to step up. Barkley emphatically did and it makes you question how much the media really do know about the game?

  • 145.
  • At 12:12 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Joey H wrote:

*ENGLAND XV v S. Africa*

15. Lewsey
14. Cueto
13. Noon (have faith)
12. Barkley
11. Robinson
10. Wilkinson
9. Perry (once again have faith)
1. Sheridan
2. Regan
3. Stevens (vickery if not cited)
4. Shaw
5. Corry
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Worsley / Easter (take your pick)

  • 146.
  • At 01:06 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Swanjoe wrote:

Okay, Saffas certainly beat up on Samoa today, and things look bleak for Friday, but let's not draw the curtains and settle down to a period of national mourning just yet.

As limited as the squad looks, the Boks at least play a power game, and they will not be gamboling around the park quite so easily as they did against Samoa - we can, after all, at least scrummage.

15. Lewsey
14. Sackey
13. Farrell
12. Catt
11. Robinson
10. Barkley
9. Richards
1. Sheridan
2. Mears
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Dallaglio (C)....

...yeah, I know, he was terrible yesterday. But if he's going to be on the damn pitch, you may as well stop mucking about and toss the bloody armband to him; after all, the old bugger has definitely been saving himself for Friday....

  • 147.
  • At 02:55 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Watching the game from NZ with great expectation that England following a slow, disappointing build up to the RWC just might show us, with their combined individual talent a solid team performance! Well go lewsey, Barkley and Ree's but the rest of the team need to show some pride, passion and desire. Even if England do not retain the RWC atleast allow me to hold my head up and say they played well as team, looked as if they wanted to win and can leave the competition disappointed but knwoing they competed every inch of the way!
What can I say the USA are part timers, England need a major change in performance if they are to get close to the BOKS this weekend. Go England!

  • 148.
  • At 07:29 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Russ wrote:

England were awful against USA and most should be marked below-average (scoring 2 to 4 points max).

They have wasted 4 years and developed virtually no real world class players in that time. And in the words of Mike Ford "they are all east-west players".

Rees did ok...but he still didn't provide quick ball did he? He's not helped by a bunch of forwards who are as dynamic as statues. They are big lads, but ponderous and seem to have three speeds
..slow...slow...and slow.

Vickery....very fat
Sheridan...lazy, for all that power
Corry.....journeyman (but does graft)
Shaw......very heavy
Worsley...the vision of a bat

The backs don't have the skill sets of many others teams...but of the top 8 to 10 nations...which forward packs produce ball as slow as England? Not amount of ball...they manage that...but the speed and quality of ball. What chance do the backs have at test level when it takes sooooo long to clear a ruck.

I hope I'm wrong, but i think they will get hammered on Friday....and Samoa could surprise....

  • 149.
  • At 08:48 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Will Durden wrote:

If i were Brian Ashton, this is what i'd do...

1. Sheridan - Easy pick
2. Regan - An sub him on 50 mins, just because chuter coming on as a sub will make more impact.
3. Stevens - In the event of Vickery not being cited, the Bath prop should get the nod anyway
4. Shaw - Easy pick
5. Key - Easy pick
6. Moody - But some intensive refresher courses on the rules at the breakdown, and 'stopping the blood rushing to the head' would be vital as preparation
7. Rees - Easy pick
8. Easter - Dallaglio should be brought on at some point
9. Perry - Just ahead of Richards
10. Barkley - Played his way into a concrete setting in my opinion
11. Lewsey - When its not broke, don't fix it!
12. Catt - Today you have to have a ball player at 12, mixed well with Barkley
13. Hipkiss - You have to have a runner at 13 outside the 10 and 12 i've chosen. Tate on as the game moves on to exploit those widening gaps
14. Cueto - He's a finisher, and his best games have been at wing, needs more experience at fullback
15. Robinson - Yes, he would know what a full back line was if it was slapping him in the face, but then when was the last time you saw an England fullback carve a line from the back? His space was limited on Saturday, give him more!

We can talk all we want though...if ashton picks this team...we'll win the world cup! But thats not gonna happen now is it!
14. Cueto

  • 150.
  • At 08:49 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Valder wrote:

I think the England perfromance was as dire as the world cup organisers cheek at charging 5€ a pint for alcohol free beer. Now what the hell was that all about.

Its clear to see that the game was a bad performance. It is even more obvious now that we made the Irish look good in Croke park....

But back to the beer, that usually quells a bad performance but thanks to the French I have to sour taste of Amstel free AND a poor run out to deal with.....

  • 151.
  • At 09:38 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Richard Condliffe wrote:

I assume Vickery is suspended so Stevens will come in. The back row were pedestrian against the USA so I've gone for a more mobile group who I hope would make more of an impact.
Assuming JW is fit you've really got to play him but dropping Olly would be criminal so move him to 12 and stick Hipkiss next to him to take the game to the oposition. Noon offered nothing going forward and little in defence against the USA. If we set out to defend on friday we'll come unstuck so we have to take the game to them. Farrell comes close to a place as he looked fit and up for it against the USA in the 10mins he was allowed so if JW is still unfit I say we play Olly at 10 Farrell 12 and Hipkiss 13 but i fear the team will look and perform very much like they did against the USA.

1 Sheridan
2 Regan
3 Stevens
4 Shaw
5 Kay
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Easter
9 Gomarsall
10 JW
11 Robinson
12 Barkley
13 Hipkiss
14 Cueto
15 Lewsey

the only issue i see is who to captain the side with Vic suspended, JW leads by example but isn't vocal enough, Robinson is out on the wing so a little remote to inspire his team, should be a centre but both of my selections are too young. I suspect Ashton will play Catt and make him captain in Vickerys absence.

  • 152.
  • At 10:18 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Spencer wrote:

I would like Mr Ashton to answer the following questions for me.

Why is Vickery Captain? He is obviously struggling physically and when your captain's only contribution to the cause is a cynical trip there's something dreadfully wrong.

Why is Lawrence Dallaglio playing? Now Lawrence may believe he's as good as he was four years ago, the world has moved on. His glacial pace between breakdown points and away from them is a liability. What is required in this era is dynamism. Dallaglio has none.

What exactly have the team been practicing? Picking the ball up and then falling over?

Now I wish I thought I was being unduly cynical, but I don't believe this "other gear" talk. Our players are poor and South Africa will give us a hiding. We'll then get behind to a motivated Samoa team and in good English fashion we "won't panic" and "stick to our game plan" and suddenly realise at 75 minutes that we are losing and then we'll panic, not that it'll do us much good.

  • 153.
  • At 10:31 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Rob wrote:

BA has got to really shake the team up and find a way to include Wilko and Barkley for SA. Tough.

I'd play Farrell against SA (not great but best we have right now) so he gets my inside centre slot (can't play outside), so I'm moving Barkley to full back - a risk but Cueto is too and Tait is just too frail.

So here goes:

1. Sheridan
2. Regan
3. Stevens
4. Shaw
5. Borthwick
6. Moody
7. Rees
8. Easter
9. Richards
10. Wilkinson (c)
11. Robinson
12. Farrell
13. Hipkiss
14. Lewsey
15. Barkley

  • 154.
  • At 10:35 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • mike wrote:

Against South Africa we need a solid backline defence they will have their big centres and their backrow running at us all game. Eddie jones has taught them how to offload in the tackle and therefore we need to be able to tackle non stop. I would love to see England playing brilliant attacking rugby but having lived in hope for years I think we need to be practical.

In the pack Stevens for Vickery ang Easter for Dallaglio. In the backs either Richard or Gomarsall for Perry
Farrell and Lewsey in the centre, Sackey on the wing with Cueto and Robinson at fullback.
Not very entertaining and very last minute but would stop us being embarressed.

  • 155.
  • At 10:52 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Roy Howgill wrote:

At the risk of being lynched, Johnny W. is not an outside half! A superb kicker both from hand and ground and tactically astute but as a launcher of the way!
At the moment Cueto is not an international full-back, maybe one day but not yet. Could Johnny play full-back? I think so.
Barkley looks the part and should play at 10 while Tait deserves his chance at outside centre but would benefit from Farrell inside him. Lewsey looks as though he is returning to form and Billy Whizz is just that.
Mears is probably the most mobile of the hookers, certainly is the best 'footballer' and if his throwing is OK then he would give some mobility which was so palpably lacking recently. Sheridan picks himself, Shaw and Kay are about the best pairing in the boiler house with Moody, Rees and Easter in the back row. Gomersall's faster hands would give that split second more time to the backs so he would have my vote. Corry, Hipkiss, Perry, Cueto, Worsley, Stevens and Chuter on the bench.
Assuming that he is not cited then Vickery retains his position but he is going to have to perform to his former reputation.

  • 156.
  • At 10:53 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Steveo wrote:

There has been some absolute garbage written on this thing over the last few days (just spent a few minutes flicking through). Why is everyone being so Pretentious. The time for experimentation is over. Some examples I've seen include one plonker putting Lewsey at 13 and another picking Gomersall. This is the world cup people. We have (lets be honest) 3 more games in the tournament. I can see us losing 2 easily and struggling with one unless the best 15 players are picked and then put in thier correct positions. One muppet wrote on here that dropping Rees was a good idea - did you even watch the game. He was the only forward who looked like he knew he was representing £60m englishmen. my suggestion (and I'm open to comments!!) would be:

Farrel/barkley depending on JW's ankle

At least then if we lose we know its because our best players weren't good enough - not because our crazy options didnt pay off.

I really hope most people agree to at least my thinking if not my final 15.

Lets stop picking people who arent good enough!!!!

The only pluses for me were the perfomances of Olly and Rees.
Cueto is not and never will be a full back, get Lewsey back there, the team has to start turning possession into points and stop making silly errors.
Too many players not playing heads up rugby and therefor misssing opportunities.
Its a simple game keep it simple, forwards please give the backs a chance and get out of the way.

  • 158.
  • At 11:04 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Falcon Eddy wrote:

Whatever team we put out it needs some of the more experienced players to stand up and be counted, Leaders to lead, a game plan which players are comfortable with and the ability to change it if things are going wrong. I'm afraid Brian Ashton's selection policy leaves alot to be desired going into this World Cup and I would not expect him to still be there after it.

Lewsey at full back, Cueto and Robinson on the wings, Barkley at FH, Farrell and Noon against SA as we will be defending for large periods of time (Tait light weight and Catt past it). Stick it up the jumper and play 10 man rugby or we will get stuffed. Use forwards Sheridan, Regan, Stevens, Shaw, Kay, Moody, Rees and Easter. Use Dallaglio as an impact player as he only plays for 20 mins these days. Keep Tait away from full back slot as he causes the Team problems by trying to take everyone on in his own half!

The only pluses for me were the perfomances of Olly and Rees.
Cueto is not and never will be a full back, get Lewsey back there, the team has to start turning possession into points and stop making silly errors.
Too many players not playing heads up rugby and therefor misssing opportunities.
Its a simple game keep it simple, forwards please give the backs a chance and get out of the way.

The only pluses for me were the perfomances of Olly and Rees.
Cueto is not and never will be a full back, get Lewsey back there, the team has to start turning possession into points and stop making silly errors.
Too many players not playing heads up rugby and therefor misssing opportunities.
Its a simple game keep it simple, forwards please give the backs a chance and get out of the way.

  • 161.
  • At 11:35 AM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • darran mather wrote:

Roy Howgill: At last someone who can see the game as I see it! Wilkinson is not a great fly-half! Barkley produced more against USA than JW has in the last 6 games.

JW is slow and lacks the innate ability to break the first line of defence. This obsession with JW as damaged the balance of the team IMO. He's a good player but still the Union hacks all love him like he's a god. a tad embarrassing it seems.

His name is Wilkinson not Jonny. As in Vickery not Phil or Robinson not JAson.

This fawning obsession with Wilkinson is plain silly. Think it was Ackford or S Jones who put Wilkinson in his world 15! Above Carter!! Unbelievable nonsense of the highest order.

Give it to Barkley and put JW on the bench, he his simply not needed yet

  • 162.
  • At 12:04 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Graeme Hutton wrote:

Hi i aggree with your review for the most part, although im assuming that Barkley's rating of 9 was relative to the other england players as there is no way he had a near perfect game.

Im sure people are sick of reading other people's 15s but here are the changes i would make for th SA game:

+Tait to 13- he made some good breaks in the summer against SA and is by far the best attacking back england have

+Wilkinson at 10, barkley at 12- Barkley made better breaks than Catt and has a better boot

+Corry at 6- Would add even more muscle to the pack and a solid line-out option

+switch round Cueto and Lewsey ( i miss Balshaw)

These changes should hopefully present a good, basic gameplan even england should be able to execute:

-Use those big left boots to pin SA in their half/22
-Use the big pack to try and put pressure on the SA line-out and contact area oin these areas (not easy but our best shot)
-Wilkinson and barkley can spread it wide after some big forward runs in order to suck in defences and then release Tait and the back 3

Its a game-plan your taught in your first year at high school, but then England are making the same mistakes as a team you would expect to play at that stage

Graeme (18, FB)

  • 163.
  • At 12:09 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • steveo wrote:

Darren Mather - where to start.

I note that you are agreeing with the chap who wrote something along the lines of Barkley being able to release a back line like Wilkinson can't. I assume you do watch rugby?

Is this the Barkley that inspired England to a try fest against the USA? cOrrect me if I'm wrong but the only try we scored from "back play" was Catt kicking to Robinson (or Jason) following some great work by Lewsey. Barkley was not involved. Or do you mean the Barkley that while in the international winderness inspired Bath to a tremendous run in both league and cup bringing home sliverware after silverware. He couldnt even get in the team mate.

Now in no way is this a dig at the man. He was by far our best back on Saturday (although thats not saying much) both in terms of consistancy and spark but if you are suggesting leaving a fully fit Wilkinson on the bench to play Barkley this is just another example of the unbelievable pretentiousness we see occuring on here.

I would not rule out playing them both as we need our best 15 players on the pitch. Wilkinson's tactical nouse, physicality, kicking game, passing and talking are way ahead of Barkley's. If you think we are going to win a game against SA by having a fly half who will make a couple of jinking runs then I dont think you are the type of person who my comments will have much effect on. Barkley may be more fun to watch when hes playing against crap opposition but he is not complete enough to give us a hope against the Boks.

I really hope (for your sake) you agree.

PS I assume that bit about Wilkinson playing at 15 was a joke. Seriously.

  • 164.
  • At 12:17 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Boris wrote:

I'm sorry, but Wilkinson is a Classy player, He adds so much to this England team. Being a Bath Fan myself, I have seen quite a lot of Barkley over the years, he is an outstanding player and has played 50% of his rugby life at 12. Problem solved; Wilkinson at 10, Barkley at 12 - awesome!

1 Sheridan
2 Mears
3 Stevens
4 Kay
5 Corry
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Dallagio
9 Perry
10 Wilkinson
11 Lewsey
12 Barkley
13 Tait
14 Cueto
15 Robinson

  • 165.
  • At 12:33 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • jake bennem wrote:

england !!!!!!!!! are the best whoo aint i technical

  • 166.
  • At 12:39 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • jacob byrne wrote:

i think england will make it to the semi finals where are mane compotition is newzealand south africa and france. and i dont now why there so much critisising
of the england sqaud, they are all very talented players and work together as a team
it wasnt there best performance
but i believe they were taking it easy as we have a challenge with south africa i believe england as always have a good shot at the final as long as they stay at the top of there game.... jacob byrne

  • 167.
  • At 12:52 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Two points to make.

Firstly, England are shambolic and have been for 4 years (slightly improved if jonny plays). They all play like they are waiting for the cavalry to arrive, but they forget that the cavalry are all too old or are already sat in the commentary or corporate boxes with their feet up and their medals from 2003.

Secondly, don't under-estimate the significance of the new kit. International rugby union does not lend itself to wearing a kit which comes with a fetching red apron attached. It's too easy to grab at the trailing straps at the back. I suggest the backs wear oven-gloves for the next game. I would love to meet the team that designed and approved that kit - I can only assume that they are Welsh and it is a quite excellent joke.

  • 168.
  • At 12:58 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Spike wrote:

Almost nobody has mentioned Nick Easter. Surely he has to come in for Dallaglio, who looked well past his best on Saturday.
And let's face it, Andy Farrell is not a rugby union player. His inclusion would simply be the RFU justifying the investment they have made in him

  • 169.
  • At 12:59 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Chris Holmes wrote:

Reading through previous postings has been torturous; we may have the largest rugby audience in the world, but a large majority appears to be ill-informed... not that this has prevented a number from offering their views: Suggestions that Farrell should start at outside centre (several) and that Meears should replace Vickery (I kid you not, although I don't want to embarrass the blogger any further, but read the thread!!). There is no reason why Ashton should not play Barkley and Wilkinson in the same line-up. The really difficult decisions are at outside centre, 8 and 15 and they interact:

I would love to see Tait play, but all the 8s available play a limiting, defensive game. Ashton will be wary of our large, immobile pack and resort to a kicking game (yawn) again - two from Farrell, Wilkinson and Barkley taking the 10/12 pivot. Which means that we are probably stuck with Noon at outside, Robinson at 15 and Easter starting at 8. Damage limitation and of no great benefit in preparing for our biggest pool game against Samoa.

  • 170.
  • At 01:00 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • alfie noakes the 2nd. wrote:

I don't see the problem..... England are a below average team, therefore we should be happy that they managed to play relatively well and in accordance with their world ranking. So well done to Brian and the squad; a fanatstic mediocre display.

What I particularly liked about their abject performance was the lethargic approach to the ruck. Why run when you can walk, sorry why walk when you can walk really slowly? There is an art to strutting and machismo posturing and at this we are undoubted, crowned world leaders.

We let ourselves down on two occasions by quick reactions and lightning decision making. Slow down boys, deep breath, have a good look around you, evaluate all 456 options, scrum half wind up that pass and then go for it. There thats better.... stop fooling us seasoned supporters.

Thank you.


Argentinian horse goes into french bar with jump leads hung round his neck. Barman says " Don't mind the long face but don't hugo starting anything!"

allez le blanc.

  • 171.
  • At 01:14 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

Its got to be.


  • 172.
  • At 01:18 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Spencer wrote:

Chris message 166, I would agree that the England kit itself is truly horrible however, the Welsh in this particular regard have nothing to laugh about whatever? Did you see their kit?

"Can't we make this look any gayer?"

"Well we could shorten the sleeves a bit I guess and make it tighter"

Bunch of tarts the lot of em.

  • 173.
  • At 01:33 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Mike Rotch wrote:

Come back Tindall - all is forgiven!!!!

  • 174.
  • At 01:53 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

Perhaps we could go one step further and take the field wearing those tall chefs hats as well as oven gloves and those dangly apron bits (See 166). Should be OK as none of them move fast enough for the hats to fall off...Can't Play Won't Play.

  • 175.
  • At 02:06 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • R G James wrote:

Editorial analysis spot on.The worst' 'player was England's management,whom seemed frozen in indecision.To be a good technical coach is one thing,to be a decisive visionary leadr another.It was obvious afte 30mins the back row was too slow.Also any team worth its salt will test an inexperienced full back.
Cueto should be dropped for Sackey and Lewsey moved to full back.Farrell and Hipkiss to take the centre.There is no way after such an injury Wilko can be fit,so Barkley must play No10.
Vickery should not be selected, regardless of the disciplinary hearing.

Editorial analysis spot on.The worst' 'player was England's management,whom seemed frozen in indecision.To be a good technical coach is one thing,to be a decisive visionary leadr another.It was obvious afte 30mins the back row was too slow.Also any team worth its salt will test an inexperienced full back.
Cueto should be dropped for Sackey and Lewsey moved to full back.Farrell and Hipkiss to take the centre.There is no way after such an injury Wilko can be fit,so Barkley must play No10.
Vickery should not be selected, regardless of the disciplinary hearing.

  • 177.
  • At 02:14 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • chris wrote:

Spencer 171,

Good try but I can't let that pass. The welsh grey was beautifully judged I thought. It spoke both of our coal mining past and of our disinterest in all things ephemeral and poncy (eg red roses).

Admittedly, the ludicrously tight shirt did not do a lot for NZ 4 years ago but anything that makes Kevin Morgan look even slightly muscular is a success.

My final comment on this thread - it's early days in the tournement for me to be spending quite so much of my working day on this nonsense - I love the random 15s that you over serious english fans are posting here - I particularly like the definitive selections which have 17 players - is this finally an admission that you can only win with 17 on the pitch?

Don't worry yourselves so much, you've only got to solve the problem positions of numbers 6-13 by this Friday - you'll be fine. Those Spingboks are pussy cats.

Oh yes, and find a captain - that was a discraseful footballer's trip.

  • 178.
  • At 02:19 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • R G James wrote:

Editorial analysis spot on.The worst' 'player was England's management,whom seemed frozen in indecision.To be a good technical coach is one thing,to be a decisive visionary leadr another.It was obvious afte 30mins the back row was too slow.Also any team worth its salt will test an inexperienced full back.
Cueto should be dropped for Sackey and Lewsey moved to full back.Farrell and Hipkiss to take the centre.There is no way after such an injury Wilko can be fit,so Barkley must play No10.
Vickery should not be selected, regardless of the disciplinary hearing.

  • 179.
  • At 02:24 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Fraser wrote:

Craig 170 A bit unfair to have Robinson on both wings!
Barkley made several telling breaks but where was the support. The back row and inside centre no where.
Compared to the support of the All Blacks and Boks number 7 Rees disappointed.

  • 180.
  • At 02:28 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • JJ wrote:

Wake up forwards, you were all plodding along with your heads down most of the time. Look up and see your team's attacking opportunities!

Backs- why are you there if not to run and entertain us with your attacking skills?

Always play Lewsey at fullback and leave little Matthew Tait in sevens.

  • 181.
  • At 02:55 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • John Collier wrote:

After Saturday's dismal, dispiriting performance we need to get a team up and running that can beat Samoa in two weeks time never mind SA!

My choice would be:

3.Stevens (Vickery not on form even if cited)
5.Corry (Kay shouldn't even be in squad)
6.Moody (Worsley has had enough chances at this level)
8.Easter (Where's James Haskell?)
9.Richards (Perry too slow)
10.Wilkinson (or Barkley if Wilko unfit)
12.Barkley (or Catt if Wilko unfit))
13.Hipkiss (deserves a chance because of pace and step - Noon tried too many times)
15.Lewsey (best full back since he started playing for England, Cueto not a full back))

  • 182.
  • At 02:57 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Pinot Noir wrote:

Let's see tomorrow if Ashton is in tune with the modern game when he rings the changes (please). If he selects that posturing cartoon character LD again it will show he is completely mad. Of the 70 posts above that mention Dallaglio and his selection only 9 wanted to retain him for the Boks game. One of those, Lee (you should be ashamed of yourself) even stated the case for him to be included thus: “Will slow the ball down”. What the hell do we want to do that for!?

We need pace and power not achingly slow ball (LD uses this time to get his breath back!)

Lawrence has to go!

  • 183.
  • At 03:07 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • mark wrote:

I've just read the first page of replies to the ratings and can't belive no one has yet added a rating for Ashton. I'm happy to oblige

B Ashton Rating -1

The man is awful. Those players are amongst the best we have to offer and play fantastic club rugby week in week out. When they come together to play for their country it is the responsibility of the manager to provide a game plan and drill and support the players towards achieving that game plan against the best oppositions in the world.

Look at Argentina. A fantastic game plan (albeit an impressively simple one) and a fantastic win. England didn't have a plan, be it simple or complex. It's too late now so maybe a coup is in order. Let the players burn the winter palace and take control. I'm sure Corry, Robinson, etc must be seething behind their professional exteriors. Even Dayglo, who just seems to want to strut around and look hard, must have a better plan than the one Ashtn has tried?

  • 184.
  • At 03:43 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • phil warren wrote:

ok, it was terrible...but we always start slowly and it takes a special team (like the All Blacks) to play well against poor opposition. Knowing you're going to win often brings out the worst in teams but in the professional age that is no excuse. Here's my 15 not based solely on the USA performance but with consideration to form and who could beat SA:
1. Sheridan
2. Regan
3. Vickery (Stevens if Vick suspended)
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Worsley
7. Rees
8. Corry
9. Perry
10. Wilkinson
11. Robinson
12. Barkley
13. Tait
14. Cueto
15. Lewsey
This team will have the most grunt up front with the most running in the backs.Other option would be to put Farrel at 12. Dallaglio is dropped after poor play and too much media hype on his part. Lewsey goes back to his natural home at fullback and Barkley and Wilkinson combine at 10 & 12. Noon is binned...Tait to finally gey a fair chance. Up front...much the same with a hope of improvement.

  • 185.
  • At 03:50 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Slow Chariot wrote:

Habana must be licking his lips after watching our display. He's going to have an absolute field day on Friday!

  • 186.
  • At 03:53 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • GARY wrote:

after saturdays game it is evident we need more pace and quicker passing.

12.barkley(should play after saturdays performance ,finds the gaps and attacks them well.)
14.cueto(on the wing not fullback)
15.lewsey ( should always be at fullback he is world class in this position)

  • 187.
  • At 03:53 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Macleod wrote:

The thing that annoys me is what England's build up "chat" has been to this world cup. Every press conference and interview has been "we're ready", "we know exactly what we have to do, and know full well we can retain this trophy"........
I mean I'm all for confidence, but this approach is utterly, utterly deranged. Its past even over confidence and cockiness, and the England squad, but more importantly management, needs to get a serious mental check because it is depressing and infuriating that they are trying to fill fans heads with false hope. Hopefully after Sunday, the fans now realise that a quarter final should now be the realistic aim, and an acehivement if they play as well as they did against the US.
South Africa are going to run rampant on Friday. Jake White must be rubbing his hands and chuckling in anticipation........its going to be a thrashing

  • 188.
  • At 04:03 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • SavvyBoy wrote:

Craig (Post 170).

I know Robinson is fast but playing 11 and 14 - now that is magic.... clearly you have been to the AR school of selection - passed with flying colours no doubt!!! ;-))

  • 189.
  • At 04:05 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • morts7 wrote:

Team should be
1 Sherdian
2 Regan (just!)
3 Stevens
4 Shaw
5 Kay
6 Moody
7 Rees
8 Dallaglio
9 Gomarsall
10 Wilkinson (if fit, if not barkley at 10 and catt at 12)
11 Robinson
12 Barkley
13 Tait
14 Cueto
15 Lewsey

  • 190.
  • At 04:07 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • SavvyBoy wrote:

Craig (Post 170).

I know Robinson is fast but playing 11 and 14 - now that is magic.... clearly you have been to the AR school of selection - passed with flying colours no doubt!!! ;-))

  • 191.
  • At 04:11 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • steve P wrote:

I am afraid to say that too many players have been picked on reputation and whilst having seasoned professionals who have experience in winning is worthy, some are well past there sell by dates.
You also have to wonder about there conditioning .I thought the forwards looked leaden footed and when required seemed unable to stepup the pace .I find this unforgivable in professional players
I am in agreement with many people here and just cannot see the benefit of this ploy whereas the ball sits at the back of a ruck whilst the scrum half eckons his forwards close to him .Whilst I hate harking on about the AB's you rarely see them do this .Surely if I and other s here can see that all this does is slow the game down and allow the defence to re-organise then why can't the coaching staff ?

  • 192.
  • At 04:20 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Charlie wrote:

I cant believe England can turn out in a World Cup against a semi-professional team and put in such a hapless, pasionless performance. It was frankly embarassing and we are now seriously in a position where our big game is now the one against Samoa.
We cannot go into the game against SA with this team, key changes for me are Stevens in for Vickery (regardless of hearing outcome), Moody in for Worsley, anyone in for LD (what was Ashton thinking with his Back Row squad selections), Lewsey has to go to FB, Farrel 12, would love to see Tait at 13 but why has he not been played there in the warm ups ??
As a coach surely you would have spent the last 6 weeks working on speed of ball from rucks but no we still see Worsley waiting at back of rucks gesticulating and organising the ambling late arrivals before eventually ponderously and predictably picking and going and getting smashed or being counter-rucked before they're ready.

Come on England, its getting harder to believe we'll pull it out of the bag ....

  • 193.
  • At 04:22 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • James wrote:

Nick Easter coming off the bench anyone? Surely has to be a good thing against the South Africans given his ability to carry.

  • 194.
  • At 04:46 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • mike the optimist wrote:

reasons to be cheerful..... part 3
ONE ...clearly Ashton must be a genius to be so clever that he has everyone fooled (including the players) and lulling the boks into total overconfidence before the game (cannot think of any other reason for the tactics/performance so far otherwise !!)
TWO...Schalk Burger bound to get yellow carded sometime during the game - normally can rely on him to do so!! in fact he's lucky to be on pitch as should have been red in game v samoa
THREE....butch james can be relied on to throw a few wobblers/tantrums if flankers can get close enough
oh and at least the ref is NH
it can't be all bad out there !!! and no i am not trying to maintain support so i can sell my quarter final tickets on ebay for a better price!!!

  • 195.
  • At 04:48 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Tom Macleod wrote:

The thing that annoys me is what England's build up "chat" has been to this world cup. Every press conference and interview has been "we're ready", "we know exactly what we have to do, and know full well we can retain this trophy"........
I mean I'm all for confidence, but this approach is utterly, utterly deranged. Its past even over confidence and cockiness, and the England squad, but more importantly management, needs to get a serious mental check because it is depressing and infuriating that they are trying to fill fans heads with false hope. Hopefully after Sunday, the fans now realise that a quarter final should now be the realistic aim, and an acehivement if they play as well as they did against the US.
South Africa are going to run rampant on Friday. Jake White must be rubbing his hands and chuckling in anticipation........its going to be a thrashing

  • 196.
  • At 04:51 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Nick Hodge wrote:

The biggest thing I'm getting from all the comments is the Cueto v Lewsey for FB. Why can't Aston see what everyone else does? I'm not even sure if I like Cueto in the team, let alone play him out of position.
The other thing is Vickery, he is not playing well and that trip was embarrasing, on top of that he doesn't seem to lead much. We were so lucky with Johnno so why cant someone who played under him step into his shoes? One of them must recognise the importance of a good leader. When I watch Wasps play Dalaglio is a brooding, strong presence often seen bellowing angrily with all the players round him or waiting for a kick. I dont see anyone do that for England, not even Dayglo himself. Come on England step up to the mark!

  • 197.
  • At 05:25 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Ian A wrote:

13 Hipkiss! Please lord get Noon off. Boring crash ball player and not even with the finesse of Tindall, need more at outside centre and the Hipkiss + Catt duo has never been tried yet.

  • 198.
  • At 06:25 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Ray Fitchett wrote:

Having read all the comments I agree that the whole England team performance was woeful. it seemed the half time talk from Brian Ashton must of consisted of ' you are all playing great rubgy - same again for the second half' The obvious lack of leadership on the pitch was of great concern and will be surely tested in the SA match when the going gets 'tough/er'
We need a team that will stand up to an extremely aggressive and quick SA team ( ask the Samoens.)
A final comment is in support of Farrell. I surprised the poor guy has not been blamed for Saturdays first half performnace as he was for the line outs and scrums in the Ireland game !!True, he is not fast but he can pass,tackle and read the game better than most in the current England squad. Play him !! ( Don't forget Catt is South African - he may ahve along lost relative in their team !!!! )

  • 199.
  • At 07:25 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • matthew newman wrote:

For me the Back row have looked like a Vets front row for the last 4 games, with the exception of Rees who put himself about a bit. The question of Wilkinson or Barkley isn't which one should play, it's which one should play 10. I think Johnny's a better 10, but I don't think you could move Barkley into the centres, but I think Johnny could do a fine job there, he's an excellent tackler and we all know he can run the angles when he's given the chance. I don't think at this stage playing around with the front 5 is wise.

1- Sheridan
2- Regan
3- Vickery if available otherwise Stevens
4- Kay
6- Rees
7- Moody
8- Worsley for 30 minutes then try Corry for the next 30 and then Dallaglio for the last 20.
It's a position we need to fill for the 6 nations, which is what we should be looking at as we are no where near ready for the challenge of NZ, SA, Aus or even France. I'd add Wales and Ireland into that too if I thought England were going to play as badly as they did on Saturday.
9- Perry
10- Barkley
11- Cueto
12- Catt
13- Wilkinson
14- Robinson
15- Lewsey

  • 200.
  • At 07:52 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • MC wrote:

Sean Perry is not a test player his lack of vision and ponderous decision making means it is rare that we play with quick ball.

England seem obsessed with inticate back play - unfortunately behind the gain line. Simple dummy switch crash move would put the ball behind the opposition much more effectively

  • 201.
  • At 08:08 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • MC wrote:

Sean Perry is not a test player his lack of vision and ponderous decision making means it is rare that we play with quick ball.

England seem obsessed with inticate back play - unfortunately behind the gain line. Simple dummy switch crash move would put the ball behind the opposition much more effectively

  • 202.
  • At 08:42 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Tommy B wrote:

It seems to me that the english players think when taking the ball into contact they will go and try to go as far as possible and eventually to ground. Compare this with the kiwis,safas and pretty much any good attacking team when they find contact they all look to keep the ball alive offloading in the tackle or before contact slowing down to look for support. so for england to score they will go through a load of phases. Every phase england have slows the ball down and a broken defense becomes organised as they can get back behind the ball. QUICK BALL scores tries everything england do is slow.


  • 203.
  • At 09:54 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Stenakt wrote:

The biggest problem for me was the lack of passion. Rugby is one of those games where some fervour, zeal and aggression can make up for a hell of a lot of other deficiencies (look at Namibia). Probably not to the extent where we can win, but at least to give a good account.
I just hope after the RWC we have a good clear out and start to build for 2011 - Dallaglio should be in his prime by then! Ashton was a rushed choice and had a tough job in such a short space of time, but a longer term solution needs to be found for coach.
To get any enjoyment out of the remainder of the tournament, forget England doing well and just enjoy some awesome rugby from the other teams!

  • 204.
  • At 10:41 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • oli wrote:

i thought england were diabolial and really we lack much mobility in the pack people saying corry should comeback is just a joke.We should try give young pacey playesr a chance as forwards will not dominate another world cup as we baerly dominated usa . i would like to see.
9.perry prob

  • 205.
  • At 11:18 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Marc Spargo wrote:

I agree with the score. Poor start and no flare and no willing to play.. noone cut line and very slow ball..
a couple of good thing..
Barkley filled in nicely.. ( could start on firday)).. Rees very good growing well and Lewsey all had ok game.. but england need a rethink and need a spark.. i think the team should be for friday..

1..A Sheridan (( stong prop))
2..M Regan ( this postion is a hard choice but old head..
3..M Stevens ( stong prop and a good runner of the Ball)
4..S Shaw (( stong 2nd been ok for us))To be captain)
5..M Corry(( a good leader on the pitch))
6.. moody ((just for waht he can do))
8..N Easter
9.. P Richards ( need to try some elsa. we missing harry)
10..O Barkley ( give him a chnce if it not working bring wilko on)
11..M Cueto ( best postion for him)
12..M Tait(fast good hand)
13..D Hipkiss ((best o/s centre last seesion in the GP need a shot and why not now))
14..P Sackey and bring J Robinson on with 30 minutes to go went space has opened up
15..J Lewsey

  • 206.
  • At 11:21 PM on 10 Sep 2007,
  • Marc Spargo wrote:

I agree with the score. Poor start and no flare and no willing to play.. noone cut line and every slow ball..
a couple of good thing..
Barkley filled in nicely.. ( could start on firday)).. Rees very good growing well and Lewsey all had ok game.. but england need a rethink and need a spark.. i think the team should be for friday..

1..A Sheridan (( stong prop))
2..M Regan ( this postion is a hard choice but old head..
3..M Stevens ( stong prop and a good runner of the Ball)
4..S Shaw (( stong 2nd been ok for us))To be captain)
5..M Corry(( a good leader on the pitch))
6.. moody ((just for waht he can do))
8..N Easter
9.. P Richards ( need to try some elsa. we missing harry)
10..O Barkley ( give him a chnce if it not working bring wilko on)
11..M Cueto ( best postion for him)
12..M Tait(fast good hand)
13..D Hipkiss ((best o/s centre last seesion in the GP need a shot and why not now))
14..P Sackey and bring J Robinson on with 30 minutes to go went space has opened up
15..J Lewsey

  • 207.
  • At 03:03 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Mason wrote:

England were slow in mind and deed, we will lose to the boks by at least 20 points unless: my team for Friday night is:
2.Mears (Mobile Hooker throws the ball straight)
6.Moody(Pace at Brakedown/Support play)
8.Easter Fitter/Faster than Florence
9.Richards Pace/Ability to make a break
12.Lewsey (Combat Springbok Centres)
14.Cueto (Exposed at Full Back)
15.Robinson Ability to counter attack and will see more Ball

  • 208.
  • At 03:49 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Dave Mason wrote:

Based upon Saturdays abject performance from England we will do well to defeat Samoa let alone the Boks, It was like watching a Veterans team perform , the Forwards well off the pace, slow to the breakdown, poor in the Set Piece, resulting in Slow ball and little space for the backs, It does help if you select good players in form , such as the best number 7 in the premiership every season, Andy Hazell, A mobile and classy second Row Alex Brown, and a World class Back James Simpson-Daniel, still as they dont play for Wasps or Leicester they have no chance of selection as the England Management dont come to Kingsholm very often , if they did they might learn something about how Rugby should be played in the Modern era, instead of picking players who are past their sell by date such as Florence and Andy Farrell who came to Union 4 years too late.
Anybody who sat down on Saturday Afternoon and watched The All Blacks and the Wallabies play, and then watched England V USA would be forgiven for thinking they were watching a different sport, such was the Power Pace and flair on display at the first 2 games, then England kicked off, It hurts me to say this as a proud Englishman but this current England Team are the worst i have seen since the 1987 World Cup , If we make the Quarter Finals we will lose to Australia or Wales.

  • 209.
  • At 05:26 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Jimmy wrote:

Wow, im pretty surprised by these ratings. Given the scoreline & the opposition is an average of 5.73 / 10 for the starting 15 really accurate????

If so, then its no wonder so many All Blacks are shifting to the northern hemisphere, you're a much more forgiving lot!

  • 210.
  • At 07:06 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Craig wrote:

( SavvyBoy 187 )

Number 14 is Robinson from Bristol late call up to the squad



Hope this is better..

  • 211.
  • At 07:53 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • sean wrote:

i think the backs for the game should be

  • 212.
  • At 09:42 AM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Andy C wrote:

I've just read the BBC news article posted by Mike Ford headlined "England Hatch Defensive plan for Habanna".

Can't believe what I have read in the last paragraph!!
"International rugby nowadays, when you get to the top eight nations, is a game of field position.

"Sometimes it is better if you don't have the ball and for the opposition to have it, because it is harder to attack in rugby union.

"It becomes a game of turnovers, about keeping your discipline, kicking your penalties, keeping the scoreboard ticking over.

"When you are up against the top sides in the world, that is the game. There won't be many tries on Friday night.

"You can talk about attack all you want but it rarely happens at this sort of level."
What a pile of steaming ...... Can you imagine NZ, Australia or SA saying anything like this?!?! Guess it sums up England at the moment as being clueless!!

  • 213.
  • At 12:40 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Dominic wrote:

My team for against SA (wilko isnt fit)

1. Sheridan
2. Regan
3. Vickery
4. Shaw
5. Kay
6. Rees
7. Moody
8. Easter

9. Perry
10. Barkley
11. Robinson
12. Farrel
13. Lewsey
14. Sackey
15. Catt

  • 214.
  • At 01:29 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • david wrote:


Ever since 2003 it appears we rest upon our champion status and instead of going back to square one we look at turning up and letting the players do what they wish, after all being world champions we MUST know what we're doing...right?


When we play the ball to our backs we have no depth. Every single player waiting off the fly-half's shoulder (no matter who is playing there) gets over excited! Watch back on matches and watch against south africa!

You're never going to break a decent team's defence when running so flat! It is so simple. We need to be running on to the ball at least at three-quarters pace and after a second of receiving we need to be in top gear.


England's approach to flankers are big guys, solid defenders. Thats half the package.

We don't have enough ball winners. Half the reason we were such a good team was down to Neil Back, Richard Hill because they did their defensive job but more importantly they got us ball turned over.

Something else which worries me a lot is clearing out the opposition at the ruck, we lose so much ball and play is slowed down because we don't clear out instantly. As soon as a player is tackled our forwards should be running like a crazed beast and securing the breakdown so we can get quick ball.

At the moment half the forwards seem to be content just watching whats going on.

New Zealand are great at clearing out and providing quick ball, it is how you catch the opposition before their defence is set.

One problem that feeds from this is a decent scrum half. Perry had a great game against Wales but showed himself up against USA, that was one of the worst performances from a scrum half I have ever seen. To get quick ball you need someone to command his forwards and distribute quickly.

I predict a 50 point drubbing on friday.

This is only going to continue until we go back to the basics, its so simple its unreal!

  • 215.
  • At 04:19 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • simon a wrote:

I agree to a lesser or greater extent with most of the comments however i have one problem. Why play Cueto at either full back or on the wing? I haven't seen him break a tackle in the countless appearances he has made for England. We need a back 3 with dynamism, pace and power. He may have pace but lacks the energy, aggression and power that is a pre requisite when playing against any opposition in World Rugby.

  • 216.
  • At 05:22 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

As a die-hard South African who has lived in England for the last 10 years, Saturday was a heart-break for me - four years ago I was in Sydney with my Australian-based brother - he in an Aussie jumper and me in the white and rose (believe it or not). Much is made of the differences between the southern and northern hemispheres - and on the performance of the ABs, the Wallabies, the Pumas and the Boks versus the rest, quite rightly so.

If I look at England as an impartial observer (having made it to SA provincial level centuries ago in a different game), I see a few points:
1. dont play people out of position at top-level
2. look for initiative and flair - Catty (may his soul rot in wherever as a SA-born bloke) had both - but 8 years ago, even 4 years ago, not any more
3. dont rest on laurels - Lawrence was great, Jason was great, even Wilko was great - but they dont (cant) cut ice today
I think England will battle to beat Samoa, Tonga on their day could do them damage. QF's seem a distant possibility now, not very likely - but where to next to recover?
There are too many foreign players earning the pound in the top-levels of English rugby today (indeed the same illness infects football and cricket as well) - get the clubs to go back to a vast majority of local tallent and start buidling for 2015 now! Good luck anyway, my money is on the Boks, Friday and again on the 20th October - v the AB's!

  • 217.
  • At 05:32 PM on 11 Sep 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

Picking up on Ray's comment earlier - yes, Catty was born in SA, but so was Matt Stevens..and Kevin Pitersen..and Andrew Strauss..and... Catty has proven himself time and time again for Queen and country - so that comment is plain stupid!

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