It’s all a look at England’s next game against Ireland in two weeks – and what a prospect that is. But I suspect history shows that the ugly, drenched, blown victory of the Scots of Saturday is more important in the greater whole.
The consequences of losses would have been terrible. England would have been seen as in free fall prior to a huge game against a rejuvenated Ireland and the build-up pressure would have been enormous.
Instead, they are back on the winning course and can breathe again. Ireland had improved a lot compared to Wales, but was not a world beater and England has had two impressive victories over them in the last 12 months to think about.
Against the elements in Murrayfield, England showed that they had been ratified and abolished
I feel that England will do well again in Twickenham, assuming that Eddie Jones does nothing special in terms of selection.
As I wrote before the game, I didn’t expect England to turn up against the Scots, simply because it was a better selected, more coherent team. I would suggest that selection is sometimes the biggest problem for Jones and it certainly puts England at the back of the game against France.
At Murrayfield, I never felt like England was going to lose, and although it was the messiest, most chaotic game you can imagine, I started to become optimistic about the future of England again.
Victory over rivals Scotland again gave England a familiar leap in their stride
We can explain the period of ‘mourning’ after the World Cup, although many have underestimated how badly that has hit a young team. Getting so close, playing so well in the semi-finals but bombing seven days later – that’s hard to take. You need a few months to make some distance between that failure and the next challenge.
On Saturday, however, I saw a hungry, energetic England team. Defects in certain areas, but very determined and I expect them to continue. I also saw something that pleased me. Key England tight ahead – Jamie George and Kyle Sinckler in the front row, lock Maro Itoje and Tom Curry in the back row – stay the full 80 minutes.
An expression I’ve always had as my mantra in business and rugby is “disruption” – change, innovate or disrupt traditional thinking. This is usually not associated with the English mentality, but successful entrepreneurs “disrupt”, just like successful sports coaches.
I’m watching a future England package from Ellis Genge, George, Sinckler, Itoje, George Cross, Curry, Sam Underhill and a fit-again Billy Vunipola and I want those players to be on for 80 minutes.
If five of them went the whole distance, why not eight? The coming weeks, months, years must be spent trying to take their condition to a new level. Disrupt the current thinking about what is possible.
Eddie Jones’ side will give Ireland a run for their money, provided that selections remain comparable
I have never been happy with our acceptance of the replacement merry-go-round at 55 or 60 minutes. More often than not they diminish the efforts of a team when their best players leave.
I have not seen a Six Nations game in which I am convinced that the players entering the arena have done better than the players coming off. Many teams are getting worse. Watch the French coach take off his entire front row and almost hand over the game to England on a board. Leave your best players on.
In the meantime, have you seen the Sonja McLaughlan interview with Jones on BBC for the Scotland contest when she urged him why he feels the need to make things orally?
“I like doing it,” he admitted. “It’s easier to say nothing … but I think you have the responsibility to make the theater of the game, paint a picture of how you want the players to play and sometimes paint a picture for the opponent. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. “
In Australia, rugby union is far behind cricket, rugby league and Aussie rules and you have to sell big union games for all your value to get a crowd and the temptation is sometimes to go over the top verbally.
You don’t have to do this here. Since when should France become hype against England in Paris or Scotland against England in Murrayfield? The rivalry is centuries old and we all love it.
Ireland defeated Wales with a little over in Dublin and will form a strong opposition for England
Jones’ “brutality” comments before the game in France were premeditated and he repeated them in a country where a number of junior players died of rugby injuries in the last year.
He misunderstood it very much and the professional answer to someone who led the image of English rugby should have been state. “I apologize for that, I am wrong and I am really sorry if it upset anyone.” End of story and move on.
Ireland beat Wales with a little bit left in Dublin and with the game that avoided the worst of the weather, we could witness a decent spectacle with the Irish back three who looked dangerous and Tadhg Furlong who looked like a rejuvenated figure in the front row .
However, what I liked most was seeing Andy Farrell’s satisfaction. He can look in the mirror this morning and say, “Yes, I can really do this job.”
No matter how good you are as a player and as an assistant coach, you have nagging doubts in mind when you take your first appointment as a responsible person.
Farrell can think about two victories, one of them filthy, one very pleasant. He will feel that he belongs and has nothing to lose if Ireland goes to Twickenham.