England 23-20 France What A Bloody Good 80 Minutes

March 14, 2021

England Vs France

Serge Blanco’s 93 caps for France were filled with outlandish levels of attacking skill and ambition. Regarded as one the if not the best running/attacking fullbacks in the world. With the likes of Philippe Saint-André, Patrice Lagisquet, Philippe Sella and Pierre Berbizier the French backs lit the world up in the 1980s, with their flair and grace. Are we entering a new Golden Age of French rugby?

Without a doubt the best game of the competition this season by far. It was always going to be a tight scoreline and with England starting as underdogs, they had a lot to prove.  With an early try for Dupont, the French set out their stall. England defended well, looked dangerous on the attack and Watson scored a well taken try and was unlucky afterwards with a break and a chip and chase which would have been a world class score. Penaud scored a well taken try to take the French into the half time in the lead HT 13-17.

Maro Itoje barged over for a 77th-minute score to seal the win which was well deserved, such a pity though that the stadium wasn’t full of supporters.

Farrell ( 2 conversions 3 pens ) took the head to head against Jalibert who managed 2 conversions and a couple of penalties. The best 9 & 10 partnership on the international scene? Jalibert and Dupont light up the game for sure and with them hosting the 2023 world cup in France, the home nation will be expected to lift the trophy.


Englands Discipline Sorted?

After giving away 41 penalties in their first three Six Nations games so far, Test referees Wayne Barnes and Matt Carley were invited to England training to give them guidance on how to stay on the right side of the officials. Yes it seemed to work. With the World Cup looming and the rules saying that they want more flowing rugby, players on their feet etc, this looks like a savvy move by the England team to help curb indiscipline going forward.

Eddie Jones has suggested only around 70% of the current squad will feature at the next World Cup in 2023. The final fixture of this Six Nations against Ireland might be one where he experiments with his starting line up once again?

Wales Vs Italy

This was always going to be a game where the question wasn’t ‘if Wales will in’, but it was more about how many they’d win by. Running in 7 tries to win by Italy 7-48 Wales, this really was one way traffic. When you’re losing 27-0 at half time, there’s never going to be any way back into the match even with home advantage.

This was Wales’ 16th successive victory over Italy and it clearly showed the huge gap in quality between both teams.

Grand Slam Again?

Wales have now matched their record of 17 Six Nations tries in one tournament with a game remaining. This is the all deciding fixture in Paris against France. Win, lose or draw this game, I can see Wales scoring at least one try to beat their record for number of tries.


Relegation An Option?

The facts are damning. It was a 31st successive defeat for the Azzurri in the competition, with their last victory coming against Scotland in 2015. They have not managed a home Six Nations win for eight years, with 20 successive losses.

Italy have conceded 187 points and 26 tries in four games this year. They have lost class players like Sergio Parisse, who was a genuine leader and a world class player. It may take years and years for Italian grass roots rugby to produce players of the required quality to compete at the highest level. I think the money will have the last say, thanks to sponsorship contracts, but maybe the future might see Georgia being invited to join the competition in the coming years?


Ireland Win With 3 Minutes Left

Scotland at home would have fancied their chances in this fixture. Scoring three tries against the Irish brace was encouraging some would say as it showed the Scottish attacking ability. What let the home side down here was discipline. When you have a kicker of the ability of Jonny Sexton on the opposing team, the last thing you want to do is give away kickable penalties. This really hits home when you see Sexton pop 5 over for 15 points in the game you have just lost by 3 points. What must hurt most was the Scottish team had bounced back in the second half to get the scoreboard to 24-24.

At 10-14 the halftime score showed how close the match had been and it really was there for either team to win. A quick try then a penalty meant that 15 minutes in Ireland were in control. Scotland showed the grit to get back to 24-24, but at the end of the day it was the boot of Sexton thanks to the penalties that were their undoing.


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