Much expected of England rugby side

By Julian Guyer, Julian Guyer is a Roar Guru

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    An emerging England side will find themselves having to deal with the pressure of expectation as never before in this season’s Six Nations Championship.

    It may be, as coach Stuart Lancaster – now preparing for only his second Championship in charge of England – has often said, that England ought to expect to win every match they play.

    But England’s stunning 38-21 defeat of world champions New Zealand last time out in December means they have now set a high standard for themselves.

    After all, if they can beat the All Blacks by a record 17 point-margin, surely their opening Six Nations match next weekend at home to Scotland – who haven’t won at Twickenham for 30 years – ought to produce another victory?

    The Scotland match is one of three home fixtures for England, and France coach Philippe Saint-Andre believes that could be a key factor in deciding the destiny of the title.

    “England, with their performance against New Zealand and three home games, they are the favourites,” said Saint-Andre.

    Doubts do still remain as to whether England have sufficient creativity behind the scrum to ensure the win over New Zealand becomes more than a glorious one-off.

    And ahead of the Scotland match they have injury concerns, with Manu Tuilagi struggling with an ankle injury.

    Not that there was much sympathy from Scotland coach Scott Johnson.

    “That just leaves you (England) with another 40,000 players to pick from, it’s a sad story,” was the Australian’s response to England’s problems.

    Professional rugby has not been kind to Scotland, with the Test side now selected from just two home-based ‘pro teams’ in Edinburgh – who lost all six of their European Cup pool matches this season – and Glasgow, along with a sprinkling of overseas-based players.

    Despite occasional highlights elsewhere, such as last year’s win away to Australia, Scotland’s recent Six Nations record is dire with 12 defeats in their past 15 matches.

    “We are happy to go in as the poor little boys on the block,” said Johnson.

    “But rest assured, come game time we may not be a poor little boy.

    “Despite what people think, we are going to turn up to this game – we aren’t going to cancel it.”

    France, on a four-game winning streak, meet Italy in their Six Nations opener while Wales will clash with Ireland.

    Wales are rated rank outsiders to defend their Six Nations title after yet another disastrous European campaign by Welsh regions, the absence of coach Warren Gatland and a raft of injuries.

    Rob Howley will take over as interim Wales boss, in a move that rankles many home fans, and the former international scrum-half is charged with the ominous task of bucking a trend of seven successive losses.

    “We have spoken to the players and Rob Howley has made it clear we are on the back of a run of games without a win,” assistant coach Robin McBryde said.

    “We cannot be happy with it. We have to make sure all members of the squad feel that pain and hurt as much as the coaches.”

    © AFP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (92)

    • January 26th 2013 @ 8:54am
      Rod said | January 26th 2013 @ 8:54am | ! Report

      With a supposed player number advantage, why can’t England provide a backline of truly exceptional standard even 2001-2003 the backline was good with out being great , a league player provided the X factor. Is there a problem at the development stage, or is there really a small talent pool that they bother to look at.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 7:44pm
        Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 7:44pm | ! Report

        Rod I think coaching, culture and environment all play their part.
        If you had been watching the H Cup recently you might have noticed the horrible conditions.
        Imo snow, fooding and rain encourage a particular type of rugby and an emphisis on set piece and forward pack play.
        This is part of the reason the NH teams usually have solid scrums, abraisive forwards and direct play at a guess.
        This is obviously not the whole reason though. Perhaps culture and coaching play their parts equally and if you look to South Africas style of play, obviously culture and coaching has influenced their style rather than the state of the pitch.
        Having said that, I do think that the post pro era filter through of coaches, players and support staff from the south is influencing the way European clubs and national teams play. There was initially some resistance and pride preventing teams taking on southern rugby culture but imo, just like any culture, over time the huge influence from SH nations like Tonga, Samoa, Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, Fiji and South Africa is slowly inflencing NH rugby.
        Guys like Nick Evans, Guthro Steenkamp, Botha, McAlister, the Tuilagis, Kahn, Pienaar, Howlett, Umaga, SBW, the Pisi boys, C.Johnson, Hayman, F.Steyn, S.Donald, S.Hamilton, W.Gatland, J.Schmidt, Masoe, G.Smith, D.Carter, D.Mumm, L.Burgess, J.Mitchell, G.Henry, S.Hansen, V.Cotter, E.McKenzie and many other SH rugby brains have drifted south. Imo it is definately becoming more and more obvious that the north is being influenced and growing stronger as a result. Im not being cocky and assuming SH rugby was or is better…becuz there is no doubt it has been recently imo but I will say that the winds of change are starting to blow as a result of professionalism and it wont be long before the powers of the north are on equal footing…imo that is.

        • January 26th 2013 @ 7:55pm
          Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

          …and other SH rugby brains have drited NORTH.

        • January 26th 2013 @ 11:43pm
          Bakkies said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:43pm | ! Report

          I don’t know about under age coaching. They are looking at introducing similar changes to what Ireland made to mini Rugby in 2009. http://www.rfu.com/newrulesofplay More focus on less competition structure, developing all round skills.

          If you watch the AP teams do play attacking Rugby. At the moment it’s the time of year where the weather has gone foul. Switch on in April and tries a plenty will be scored. England have only shown it in spades over recent years that they can play attacking Rugby with accuracy. Generally the easiest way for them attack the Wallabies is through their pack which has worked in the past. South Africa and NZ are a different kettle of fish. England have provided another template in how to beat the All Blacks (and convincingly). Generally the teams that have got wins over the ABs have racked up the points through penalties then convert their try scoring opportunities.

    • January 26th 2013 @ 9:21am
      Sailosi said | January 26th 2013 @ 9:21am | ! Report

      They have amazing backline depth. Farell, George Ford, Jordan Turner-Hall, Tuilagi, Monye, Ashton, Wade, Varndell, Jonathon Joseph, Marlon Yarde. It’s actually scary how much good talent they have coming through.

      Comment left via The Roar’s iPhone app. Download it now [http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/the-roar/id327174726?mt=8].

      • January 26th 2013 @ 12:37pm
        Nick said | January 26th 2013 @ 12:37pm | ! Report

        None of those players are of the class of recent and current SH backs. That’s the point. Why can’t they develop those players?

        • January 26th 2013 @ 6:47pm
          Rugby said | January 26th 2013 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

          Nick: Monye, Ashton, Wade and Tuilagi are quality players. These 4 in particular could challenge for spots in most SH teams.

          In my opinion, SH players have it easier, in the sense that they play in a non-meaningful competition (super XV) with no relegation.They can play touch rugby style footy and show off their true qualities. European rugby is far more serious with more at stake so they can’t impress as easily. However, given the chance of super XV they’d be on par, if not better than most SH backs.

          That’s why SH players look more classy.

          • January 27th 2013 @ 8:40am
            FTR said | January 27th 2013 @ 8:40am | ! Report

            Monye is a not a top quality player. He’s a sprinter with absolutely no footballing skills or awareness of what’s going on around him.

            Ashton is an excellent try-scorer and line-runner with some frankly dodgy basic skills (kicking, passing).

            Wade is a dazzling runner with serious defensive issues who might or might not become a top player.

            Tuilagi is a beast with enormous potential who, nonetheless, needs to learn how to pass.

            For me, the supreme English back talents are the three full-backs: Brown, Foden and Goode.

            • January 27th 2013 @ 4:26pm
              Hightackle said | January 27th 2013 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

              Tuilagi can pass and is a good passer. His job is to first and foremost bend, or break open, the defensive line.
              His passing skills are very underrated.
              I think when you say he needs to learn to pass you mean you want him to pass more, if thats what you mean I disagree. He is a 110kg powerhouse wrecking-ball centre that does far more damage with ball in hand than any other English back, he can pass but if I was a coach I wouldnt want him to anymore than he does. Lomu didnt pass much either and Tuilagi had 2 try assists against NZ. 1 where he broke the line and delivered a pin point 10 m pass to Ashtons chest at full pace and another backhand pass to get Barritt across the line.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 12:55am
                Nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 12:55am | ! Report

                Someone reads too many Sunday papers. Hold your horses till these guys are besting their SH betters regularily.

          • January 27th 2013 @ 12:06pm
            Bakkies said | January 27th 2013 @ 12:06pm | ! Report

            SH players have it easier in regards to preparation for test Rugby as all Super Rugby stops so they are in constant national team training. Boks play the odd Currie Cup match at the end of its season and ABs rarely play ITM/NPC these days. Super Rugby teams are limited per country so it’s quality over quantity.

            These days in the Top 14 and AP with bonus points valuable it encourages teams to attack as a single point can sort out who makes the playoffs and the teams relegated. It’s not all tight play oriented Rugby.

          • January 28th 2013 @ 12:53am
            Nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 12:53am | ! Report

            They do get the chance, it’s called test rugby. They don’t look as good. Mostly because they aren’t

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:19pm
              Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:19pm | ! Report

              Nick how did France go against the SH in Nov/Dec? What about Ire?
              Both thrashed most, if not all of their SH opponents.
              Think a little.

              Oh thats right, you struggle with the idea of hemisphere. The southern hemisphere is half of the earth. In the southern half the major rugby playing nations include Tonga, Fiji, SA, Aust, Arg and NZ.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 6:33pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:33pm | ! Report

                Do you count Georgia and Portugal when you discuss NH rugby? Of course you don’t. You think of the 6N.

                Its the 3 biguns in the SH versus the 5 in the NH, simple as that.

                By those counts, the NH is lagging FAR FAR behind.

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:56pm
              Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:56pm | ! Report

              What?!
              You dont include Samoa (7th) and Arg (8th) in the SH?
              Irland lost to NZ by 3 and SA by 4 before putting 7 tries on Arg.
              France thrashed Aust.
              Eng thrashed NZ.

              But I like the way you have put it in reverse and flawed it from your first few comments.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:03pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                No i don’t.

                Its NZ, AUS and SA versus (in reality) Eng, Wales and Ireland.

                Thats what the world wants to see.

                Samoa could make it to that table in time but they’re not there yet.
                I don’t care how much you win or lose by, it makes no difference. Its the talk of losers to constantly point out that you haven’t won in 10, 20, 100 years but you get quite close

                Who cares?

                Its about winning

                Winning consistently.

                Thats why the big 3 from the SH are the benchmark. Because they beat everyone else CONSISTENTLY

            • January 29th 2013 @ 1:33am
              Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:33am | ! Report

              Nick doesnt include Argentina and Samoa in the SH.
              LOOK AT A MAP!
              SANZAR is not SH Nick.
              If you mean SANZAR say SANZAR.
              Its not difficult.

          • January 28th 2013 @ 5:38am
            mania said | January 28th 2013 @ 5:38am | ! Report

            super rugby non meaningful? SH players have it easier? Euro rugby is far more serious? better than most SH backs?
            surely u jest or practising your trolling skills. awesome sense of humour!!

            • January 28th 2013 @ 7:16pm
              nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:16pm | ! Report

              i think he (or she) is genuine.

              Claims to be a kiwi in Aus but has a deep and abiding love of the Euro pro rugby scene…. doubtful.

              Now says he’s (or she’s) had the Norovirus and has “read up about it”, ergo, is an expert in its after effects. As if anyone who has liquid bottom and vomitting doesn’t know who it bangs you about.

              Also is, interestingly enough, convinced there’s about 60 hours in a week too.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 1:39am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:39am | ! Report

                Nick you were the one disputing the facts on the norovirus and disputing what the ABs said and every bit of information on the Net says. Then like a whiner turns around (after giving his own expert analysis) and calls somebody who reafs a self proclaimed expert. Nick you have shown nothing but naivety.
                SH=SANZAR ahh no it doesnt.
                Tuilagi and Ashton are not as good as any SH backs. Ahh thats REALLY naive.
                Tuilagi is a 12. Ahh he plays 13.

                You obviously cant handle anyone thinking that England are good and sulk about it. You claim to be a rugby fan, so why is it you know nothing about it?

              • January 29th 2013 @ 3:33am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 3:33am | ! Report

                60 hrs in a week?
                Ive had plenty of stomach bugs and I know that it doesnt take 10 days to recover. After you have it you are a bit sh#t for 1 or 2 days afterward, not 10 like doctor Nick proclaimed.
                All but 2 had stopped vomitting by Wed. McCaw stated it wasnt a factor.
                You are proclaiming to be the expert and dispute all of the facts, not me Nick, YOU are the one who proclaims to know more than everyone else on the bug. I just go off experience, McCaws words and the information Ive read. Im sorry I didnt think to ask your expert opinion.

    • January 26th 2013 @ 2:50pm
      Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 2:50pm | ! Report

      George Ford won IRB u20 player of the year, so not in the class of SH backs is false.
      I bet you are one of those guys that doesnt rate NH backs like Kearney and O’Driscoll.

      I know guys like you cant accept it but Tuilagi, Ashton, Goode, Foden, Brown and a couple of others are quality players and imo Eng has a backline comparable to all but 1 of the SH teams (NZ) and its going to get better.

      To say none of the players named are in the class of SH backs is naive and completely wrong.

      I dont expect England to win every game. I do think they will win the 6 nats though but its a tight contest. The reaction of the doubters has been way over the top. Things like “yeah they have to beat everybody now to prove it wasnt a fluke” were said. This is ridiculous. A team that beats NZ does not then have to win everything from then on to validate the victory.

      Anyway imo there is no doubt England are going to become a powerhouse and threaten the top 3.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 3:07pm
        Ajax said | January 26th 2013 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

        Well it will be interesting to see how they go against France. There were rumours that most or all lf the New Zealand side had the flu in the leadup to the game. Its not an excuse, its a fact, England did however did play well. But they scored all thier tries in eight mad minutes right? For the rest of the game the Kiwis looked ok, scored a nice try at the end.

        England did beat the All Blacks, but they also lost to Australia and South Africa… so the jury is definately still out on the men in white methinks 😉

        And I think O’Driscoll was a great player.

        • January 26th 2013 @ 3:17pm
          Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

          They didnt have the flu and it is an excuse.
          Do you think excuses are all lies?
          A week before the game some contracted a bug that usually lasts about 24 hours. Only 2 players had it of wednesday, none on thur, none on fri, none on sat.

          • January 28th 2013 @ 1:10am
            Nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:10am | ! Report

            Any one who’s had a norovirus knows that youre significantlylow on energy for at least a week to ten days following. The diarrhea and vomiting alone will see to that.

            All but 2 squad members had it. Your assertions are erroneous

            • January 28th 2013 @ 12:30pm
              zhenry said | January 28th 2013 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

              Here Here Unfortunately we are going to hear about this fluless England win forever.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 6:35pm
                Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:35pm | ! Report

                Here here we are going to hear about this excuse forever.

              • January 30th 2013 @ 7:37pm
                Ryan said | January 30th 2013 @ 7:37pm | ! Report

                I see the christmas break has just intensified Hightackles inner rage, I see he has just picked new targets in the absence of others

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:09pm
              Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:09pm | ! Report

              Nick you like excuses dont you.
              England played well and the norovirus didnt throw Tuilagi the intercept or force C.Smith to make a bad read in defense.
              It also didnt force McCaw to say it wasnt a factor and if it had been they would have fallen away at the end of each half when clearly the opposite happened.
              You hold onto your excuse.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 6:39pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:39pm | ! Report

                Excuses?

                Cant say Ive ever had much use for them to be honest, why would a fan of a nation that wins 84% of its games over the better part of a decade and close to 80% of 105 years worth have much use for them.

                This isn’t an excuse, its a reasoned analysis of circumstances. Anybody who actually cares about where their team is at looks at the facts and assess.

                People who don’t, like you, just attempt to troll based upon poorly assessed and half baked veiwings of matches.

                England will know exactly how much that virus interfered with the Abs and they’ll be taking from that match with that in mind.

                You’ll have more luck here if you do the same, otherwise you’ll keep getting your ass handed to you.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 6:43pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

                The idea that they didn’t ‘fall away’ at the end is nonsense, they did.

                Also its far easier to see the effects of the illness in the overall physicality of the two teams from the get go.

                Its simply not possible, clinically and (in any reasonable persons assessment) logically for that illness which hit all but 2 members of the squad 72 hours out to have had NO impact on performance in top level sport which is ALL about preparation and the small percentages that lead to victory.

                Come down from the clouds and sup from the sensible cup now hightackle, perhaps your moniker is indicative of your problems. Too many concussions?

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:01pm
                Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

                Ues I have no idea why you need excuses.
                The norovirus effects do not llast 10 days.
                Ive had it and read up on it.
                EXCUSE.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:03pm
                Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

                So McCaws a liar and the England vs NZ game I watched was edited becuz THEY DIDNT FALL AWAY AT THE END OF EACH HALF. THE OPPOSITE HAPPENED.
                Watch the game again. Why are you so determined to alter reality to suit an excuse?

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:05pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

                now you’re just clutching.

                Play a test match after having it did ya?

                are there 72 hours in 10 days?

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:09pm
                nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:09pm | ! Report

                McCaws not a liar,

                he’s a captain of an international side that knows full well what happened to his squad and is well aware there’s nothing to be gained by speaking out about it afterwards.

                Its why he decided to leave the eye gouging in the RWC final out of the public eye (no pun intended) for several months, because there was nothing to be gained from chasing it up.

                Jeez, what planet do you live on? Never heard a board “fully endorse” a coach only to then fire him the following week?

                Never heard a batsman say “if i’d hit it the umpire wouldn’t have had to adjudge an LBW that was at best, marginal”

                People say things in public that are designed to “handle” a situation.

                Behind closed doors, when the analysis is done, they’ll know what happened and they won’t be frightened of what occurred in that match.

              • January 28th 2013 @ 8:32pm
                Dadiggle said | January 28th 2013 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

                No he decided not to mention it till his book came out.

    • January 26th 2013 @ 3:40pm
      richard said | January 26th 2013 @ 3:40pm | ! Report

      Hightackle, you’re really letting this so-called “disrespect” of England get to you.You shouldn’t.It’s just people’s opinions.

      You only need to look at the current AB side,and how people were saying it’s over-rated; bottom line is it is just that – AN OPINION.

      I have seen three WC winning sides I would label “great” -1987, 1999 and 2011.Most people won’t agree, but that’s cool, it’s the way I see it.

      btw,I agree that England are going to be a force in the years to come, whether that translates into a WC victory remains to be seen.

      • January 26th 2013 @ 5:19pm
        Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 5:19pm | ! Report

        “So-called”? No its just disrespect, plain and simple.
        It sure is an opinion but an opinion based on bias and nothing more…well maybe its based on not knowing wtf they are talking about too.
        Take Nick there, he thinks none of those English backs named are as good as any SH backs, even if he meant only test playing backs, its absurd. Maybe he has forgotten that Arg, Sam, Ton, Fiji, Aust, NZ, SA make up the major SH teams and not just NZ. Even if he means NZs test playing backs its debatable imo.
        Anyway you are right Richard and it does get to me.
        The proof will come either way in time but it sounds to me like it will take years of England winning 100% of their games before certain fans will ackowledge how good they are. I must say I was naive in the past too but now I know better. I once thought when I was young that 90% of the best players came from the SH.
        I think this Lions tour and the 2013 NH tour might open a few eyes.

        • Roar Guru

          January 26th 2013 @ 9:16pm
          Jiggles said | January 26th 2013 @ 9:16pm | ! Report

          The Lions isn’t England, the result will have no no bearing on how good or poor England is….

          • January 26th 2013 @ 10:35pm
            Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:35pm | ! Report

            What colour are oranges Jiggles?

            I supose you are going to inform me that the NH tour isnt just against Eng either or that O’Driscoll and Kearney are not English. Who knew?

            I said I used to think when I was younger that 90% of the best players came from the SH and that I thought this Lions tour and the NH tour would open a few eyes.
            How did you get that I was meaning the NH and the Lions would somehow tell us how good England is?

            Anyway that isnt what I was meaning.

            But I guess if Irelands thrashing of Arg, Frances thrashing of Aust and Englands thrashing of NZ didnt open a few eyes then maybe nothing will.

            P.S. I know Ireland and France are not England Jiggles.

            • Roar Guru

              January 26th 2013 @ 11:21pm
              Jiggles said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:21pm | ! Report

              What on earth are you going on about you angry little man

              • January 26th 2013 @ 11:44pm
                Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 11:44pm | ! Report

                Whos angry?
                Again pretending not to understand english.
                Well I will explain. You said the Lions are not England, I said no sh#t Sherlock.
                Understand now?

              • January 27th 2013 @ 12:45am
                Lippy said | January 27th 2013 @ 12:45am | ! Report

                I rarely agree with you Jiggles but I agree with your comment here.
                I’ve been reading the threads of late and noticed the extremely (as you say) angry posts by the above poster. His unrelenting provocation and insult laden replies to those who he does not agree with.
                Sure High knows a bit about rugby however the tone of 90% of his comments are rather heated and dismissive.

              • January 27th 2013 @ 1:50am
                Hightackle said | January 27th 2013 @ 1:50am | ! Report

                Oh and Lippy.
                Point out insult laiden replies for me.
                Please I want examples where Ive insulted people without them insulting me first.
                I cant recall insulting anyone and especially not without being insulted first.
                And Lippy lets talk rugby sometimes, instead of your grudge against me.

        • January 26th 2013 @ 10:29pm
          colvin said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:29pm | ! Report

          Hightackle,

          I thought your first post was right on the mark. Culture plays a big part of the mindgame that goes on in rugby. And the culture and gameplan are driven to some degree by the weather. I’ll always remember Fred Allan telling me that the reason the ABs have been able to keep at or near the top was that NZ rugby always seemed to be 6 to 12 months ahead of the opposition in game plan. Fred followed that up by saying he hoped it would continue but, he said… would it?

          The other issue with culture is that in the case of the ABs they’re under so much pressure not to lose because of their history. Consequently, they know they have to dig very deep when things are starting to look grim and consequently most often they do.

          In terms of British teams, NZ and Australia are well ahead in game plan. Even though there are a number of great players up north the way they play and what excites the supporters up there is still forward dominance. This is changing but they are still behind the ABs and WBs, as down here our teams have been playing open rugby for years. So many top players talk about how tough rugby is in the NH but that it is a lot slower than down south.

          I tend to not give too much credit to the English for their win against the ABs other than to say well done chaps you were the best team on the day. Their record in 2012 was just not that good. They need to string together a number of exceptional results and if they do then all credit to them. But they haven’t done it yet. Let’s see how they go in the 6 nations. Personally I do not think they will win the 6 nations, but if they do I will be one of the first to say well done.

          • January 26th 2013 @ 10:56pm
            Hightackle said | January 26th 2013 @ 10:56pm | ! Report

            Who are you backing then?
            Im going with
            Eng
            Ire
            Fra
            Wal
            Sco
            Ital

            I agree about NZ and its passion for the ABs and desire to win. I am shocked at the culture of a lot of Ausie fans who think that there is too much importance placed on the Wallabies. Johnno said he couldnt care less if there was a 4 nats. For Kiwis its all about the ABs. Maybe that is a huge part of it.

            Im not so sure that the NH is as far behind as you make out. France never really has been far behind and I think Wales, Ireland and England are very quickly becoming well rounded teams in the tradition of SH rugby.

            North, Manu Tuilagi, Fofana, Farrell, Fickou, Parra, Burns, Goode, Joseph, Cuthbert, Hogg, Gilroy, Wade and many other young NH backs are the next gen and its looking promising.

            • January 27th 2013 @ 11:31pm
              Roarer said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:31pm | ! Report

              Wales / France
              France / Wales
              Ireland
              Italy
              Scotland
              England

              • January 28th 2013 @ 6:10pm
                Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:10pm | ! Report

                Thats not even a good troll.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 1:04am
                Roarer said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:04am | ! Report

                Troll? What like a kiwi with an English love affair? That’s unique, cuz.

                I don’t troll and I suspect those with a bit of maturity would not do so either. It’s how I can see the 6N panning out.

            • January 29th 2013 @ 1:44am
              Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:44am | ! Report

              Ha ha! Love affair?
              No Im sorry Im a reasonable person. You are not and Im def not your cuz.
              You embarrass me with your small man syndrome and your need to make excuses and put other teams down.
              Shame on you and Nick.
              Lets see how your prediction of Eng coming last goes.
              Obviously a real rugby genius.

          • January 27th 2013 @ 2:56am
            Hightackle said | January 27th 2013 @ 2:56am | ! Report

            Colvin the Eng victory over NZ deserves credit. No matter if you rate them or not, on that night they were outstanding. Imo Eng deserves credit for that particular game. Even if you believe NZ wasnt great, for whatever reason, it doesnt change the fact that Eng were top quality.
            However if we are judging Eng on that 1 game, that is wrong. Im not doing that, Ive been saying since before the WC that England look like they will be a very good team soon. This due to their very good showing at Jr levels coupled with the emergence of Tuilagi and a few others.
            Not only will Eng have that forward pack that they traditionally do, it will be a forward pack with x factor. Morgan, Croft and Launchbury are not just big tall, rough forwards, they have pace and skill.
            Along with a very imposing forward pack Eng will have a backline that is hardly typical of English sides. Both Care and Youngs offer the team a lot at halfback and both seem to be improving nicely. Farrell, Flood, Burns, Ford and even Ciprianni should offer England a few choices at 10. Tuilagi has power and pace but an underrated passing game, not to mention very good defense and if he lines you up not many can hit harder. Goode is a converted 10 of sorts but unlike Beale he is good under the high ball and his ball playing skills give England some much needed variety. Barrett is an excellent defender and like his Australian counterpart McCabe, he is massively underrated. J.Joseph and Twelvetrees are centre options and imo both should be given oportunities to partner Tuilagi in the 12 jumper imo. Ashton is an excellent support runner and with Goode, Brown, Foden and perhaps Wade or Sharples, they offer England a few options to make up a very classy backline and for me a very balanced backline, not the most flashy but good defensively, under the highball (very important) and not short of ability on attack. And remember, attack with ball in hand isnt even half of the game, C.Smith is a perfect example.

        • January 28th 2013 @ 1:00am
          Nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:00am | ! Report

          Hightackle, you don’t want respect, you want people to agree with your opinions. It’s as simple as that. Why would the SH fans fear or ‘respect’ (which purely means “you have to agree the English are as good as hightackle thinks) the English side when they lose FAR more than they win. The reason they do this is because they has FAR less world class players than their SH counterparts and the coaching is better down here. Rugby in general is better down here.

          Conjecture is one thing, consistent beatings are another

          • January 28th 2013 @ 4:33pm
            Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

            No thats wrong Nick.
            What you have to do is have an idea, you dont have any.
            You said those England representitives were not as good as any SH backs.
            Thats dumb.
            You dont have to think England is as good as me but you have to be reasonable and have a clue.
            If you are going to come on here and say that Chris Aston and Manu Tuilagi are not a a good as any back in the SH, Im going to tell you you are naive. Thats not an opinion, thats a fact Nick.

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:47pm
              nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

              I aid they weren’t as good as the best from the SH.

              Thats not the same thing and to be honest, its pretty self evident.

              Chris Ashton? You must be joking. As good as Habana? As good as Jane? As good as Ioane? As good as JP Pieterson?

              Thats ridiculous. You’ve dont a pretty good job of illustrating your profound ignorance here. You’d be better off drawing pictures of donkeys with crayons thn trying to pass of that nonsense as fact?

    • January 27th 2013 @ 11:04am
      Colvin said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Hightackle

      Yes, there are many people who have the same thoughts as you have and fair enough too as England have so much going for them. They have the money to buy players for their teams, coaches and create facilities. They have the huge competitions all within an hour or so’s flying time and playing numbers far in excess of NZ and Aus. But they have been held back by administrative self interest and incompetence. It seems now though that they are sorting that out after having made some big moves in the last year. And the players you mention all are as good as anyone around. Look at the way Owen Farrell doesn’t seem to miss kicks at goal. Was it just two weeks ago he kicked 10 penalties in a club match.

      So they have the opportunity of being a big deal perhaps the big deal. Certainly they are targeting the next RWC.

      Money isn’t everything though. English football (soccer) has all the assets as well and can’t make the top rung.

      I personally think they fall down in areas of culture. I mentioned on another post that my old coach instilled in us years ago that we must be good losers and we must be humble and modest in victory. Compulsory.

      No one could accuse the English supporters of being good losers and humble in victory and I think it backfires on them.

      Secondly, I personally think their obsession with forward play, much of which is driven by the pretty lousy conditions they play in goes against them. That is, they don’t instinctively run the ball since they don’t often have the conditions needed to do it. But I know they are running the ball more. So playing an open game isn’t really in their DNA the way our teams have been born and bred on the open game.

      Thirdly, all moves to make the rules of the game better come from the SH. That is, looking at it another way, the NH are not focussed on bettering the game, they like it the way it is and tend to resist change. In the SH we tend to be more innovative and therefore seem to be ahead of them in our thinking. We need to be to compete given our disadvantages in numbers etc..

      Notwithstanding the above it appears England are on the move. Speaking as an AB and WB supporter I hope hope their natural arrogance/instincts of superiority keep hindering their progress.

      Concerning the upcoming 6 nations of course England could win, as could France. My team Wales is a long shot but I’m hoping that they can put the second half of 2012 behind them and return to the form they had in 2011 and the first half of 2012.

      All we can do is hope.

      • January 27th 2013 @ 9:50pm
        Hightackle said | January 27th 2013 @ 9:50pm | ! Report

        Im not going to get into a debate but imo Eng doesnt buy anyone. Tuilagi, the Vunipolas and Hartley def were not purchased and Im pretty sure Waldrom and Barritt wernt either.
        Botha, Vunipola, Tuilagi and Hartley had all played in England for at 6 or more years before making their test debuts and none were scouted from their country of birth.
        6 years in a country is enough as far as I am concerned.

        If it was up to me it would be a min of 3 years of residency and citezenship to qualify for that country or birth in that country. No grandparent rule, no parent rule.

        • January 27th 2013 @ 11:44pm
          Roarer said | January 27th 2013 @ 11:44pm | ! Report

          Hightackle: What about Lesley (is a girls name) vainikolo, Shontayne hape, Riki Fllutey, Mike Catt.

          Vainkolo played for the Rugby league kiwi’s as did Hape,

        • January 28th 2013 @ 1:06am
          Nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 1:06am | ! Report

          If you think any player who isn’t good enough for one of the SH giants goes up north without the thought of playing for one of the ‘lesser lights’, you’re as naive as a child.

          Sean Maitland as good as admitted it!

          All of the guys you mentioned would have considered it as a viable career move, desperate to play international rugby as well as warn pounds/euros and the home unions know full well that carrot is on the table when clubs enter in to negotiations

          • January 28th 2013 @ 6:27pm
            Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:27pm | ! Report

            Thats not buying is it?
            Are you saying Sean Maitland was purchased by Scotland or Vuna by Australia?
            The players appart from flutey didnt even go to eng for rugby union money.
            Tuilagi was 13.
            Hartley 16.
            Botha started off in a low division about 8 years before his test debut.
            Vunipola was there for 12 years and was about 8 years old.
            Vanikola had not lived in NZ for 10 years and had lived in Eng playing league for 5.
            Hape had lived in Eng for 7 years.
            Speaking of naive as a child!

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:45pm
              Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

              And Catt moved to Eng before rugby went pro. Wrong again.
              I think rugby was pro when Devine went to NZ. Did they buy him?

              • January 28th 2013 @ 7:33pm
                atlas said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

                Devine – moved there by choice to play rugby in Auckland.
                Five years for Auckland province and four seasons Super rugby before AB selection.
                Well in excess of the residency requirement.
                Played rugby in NZ for another four years after finishing for ABs.
                Still lives and works in Auckland six years after retirement..
                Less mercenary than many I could mention . . .

            • January 28th 2013 @ 6:51pm
              nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

              It wasn’t me who said they were bought.

              Trouble is Hightackle, so many people are coming out of the woodwork to close you down you’re losing touch of where the punches are coming from.

              My point was that these players who are leaving NZ, SA and Aus for the NH are absolutely thinking of international play if its at all possible.

              You’ll notice that i need mentioned players who left as kids, why would I?

              I mentioned “any player who isn’t good enough for one of the SH giants goes up north without the thought of playing for one of the ‘lesser lights’, you’re as naive as a child.”

              That is, again, a self evident point.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 1:48am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:48am | ! Report

                So we are talking about buying and you chime in and say what? That those players that are from the south are from the south?
                Awesome, thanks.
                Atlas I know Devine wasnt purchased. If you read my post that was the whole point.

        • January 28th 2013 @ 7:18am
          madrid john said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:18am | ! Report

          well you would, wouldn’t you. Wouldn’t test matches be gripping if the richest nations could buy up all the young talent and sling a jersey on them 3 years later. Sure it would be too bad for those Pacific Nations that some how keep competitive with no population base, money or support from the IRB, but hey, England would win more, so that’s a good outcome, right?

          You’d be better served figuring out why the nation with most of the advantages can’t seem to consistently mix it internationally, (lets not even talk about recent 6 nations…)

          • January 28th 2013 @ 6:41pm
            Hightackle said | January 28th 2013 @ 6:41pm | ! Report

            Hmmm.
            Well you might want to figure out why one of the only 4 teams to have beaten NZ in the last 60 years, a WC winner and 5th ranked team in the world is said to have not been up to standard in international rugby.
            Im guessing you are a Kiwi becuz only a kiwi would say that.

            • January 28th 2013 @ 7:00pm
              nick said | January 28th 2013 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

              Because people with an understanding of rugby realize that the NH has had ONE period of relative competition with the SH in the last 10-15 years and that was headed by ONE side, the fantastically efficient English squad of 2000-03

              Rugby is DOMINATED by the SH and thats why people consider the level of skill shown there to be the benchmark. You’ll need to match it to be considered “up to international rugby” if you consider international rugby as the top draw only.

              Until the 2011 world cup the 3N’s v the 6N was sitting at 77.8% wins to the SH 1987-20011
              At RWC it was 81.6%

              Its even worse at RWCs

              Domination in anyones language.

              Its bizarre these debates even occur and it really signifies just how much the rugby landscape is driven by the home unions writing the press releases, reality isn’t a consideration for those guys.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 1:30am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:30am | ! Report

                You are telling me that NZ, SA and Aust are gerally the best?
                Thats amazing.
                Nobody is debating that Nick. Nobody.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 1:58am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 1:58am | ! Report

                Nick nobody is saying the teams in the north are better.
                Youre weird. Calm down. Wtf is your problem?
                So determined not to give England or the NH any credit at all. Excuses and absolute conviction that the north is bad. Why?
                Nobody ever said the NH was better but you seem to be hell bent on saying no player is as good from the north.
                If you think that Ashton and Tuilagi are not as good as McCabe, Cummins, Horne, Vuna, Tomane, Shipperly, Taute, Mvovo and a few others from SANZAR squads you have no idea what you are talking about imo.
                Also if you think Eng doesnt compete on the international stage well you are completely wrong. Dont tell me, SANZAR is the only teams that count right? Well Eng has won 2 out of the last 3 against Aust, 1 of the last 3 against NZ and drawn and come within 1 against SA in the last 3 against them.

              • January 29th 2013 @ 3:23am
                Hightackle said | January 29th 2013 @ 3:23am | ! Report

                The top 3 are not international rugby and Im sure Ire, Eng, Sco, Ton, Sam, Arg, Wal, Ital, Fiji, Can, Jap, Fra agree with me.
                To even think that the top 3 represent international standard is absurd.

                Nick I dont think we are ever going to see eye to eye…becuz Im reasonable.

                Hey everyone, Nick thinks only 3 teams are international standard! Pfffft

                Hey Nick, pro era
                Eng 9 Aust 12 1 draw.
                Eng 8 SA 14 1 draw.
                Eng 3 NZ 13 1 draw.

                Thats Eng 20 SANZAR 39.

                To say Eng doesnt compete is wrong no matter what conditions you place on it Nick.

    • January 28th 2013 @ 12:29pm
      Dcnz said | January 28th 2013 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

      England will get better and be a force in the world scene … It’s about time good luck I say ….

      as long as we hold our number one ranking (ABs have owned it since late 2009) .. And keep the Bledisloe .. I am happy . And a winning record around 85 percent ….then all is fine in the world and I just want to see great rugby …

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