England vs Italy

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England vs Italy

Post by nathan on Mon Feb 20, 2017 9:01 pm

First topic message reminder :

28 players that have been kept.

Forwards (16): Jack Clifford (Harlequins), Dan Cole (Leicester Tigers), Charlie Ewels (Bath), Jamie George (Saracens), Teimana Harrison (Northampton Saints), Dylan Hartley (Northampton Saints), James Haskell (Wasps), Nathan Hughes (Wasps), Maro Itoje (Saracens), Joe Launchbury (Wasps), Courtney Lawes (Northampton Saints), Joe Marler (Harlequins), Kyle Sinckler (Harlequins), Mako Vunipola (Saracens), Mike Williams (Leicester Tigers), Tom Wood (Northampton Saints)

Backs (12): Mike Brown (Harlequins), Danny Care (Harlequins), Elliot Daly (Wasps), Owen Farrell (Saracens), George Ford (Bath), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Jonny May (Gloucester), Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs), Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs), Ben Te’o (Worcester Warriors), Anthony Watson (Bath), Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers)

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by cascough on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:34 am

If we can get past Scotland, part of me is actually glad the Ireland game is at the Aviva. It should get them fired up from the off. This game had echoes of the last Australia game. The fans and players were flat then too and we had a terrible first half.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by beshocked on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:35 am

cascough Monye is one of the worst commentators around so you shouldn't him take too seriously.

I laughed when he said in the first half it was a good game.

I agree with you that England were there own worst enemies though.


It's the Irish being absolutely pumped up I am worried about. St Patrick's weekend. At the Aviva. We know how good the Irish can be when fueled by emotion.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by cascough on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:41 am

Well I think he is wrong on this so I'm not taking his contradiction seriously. Looking at the amount of people suggesting England don't know the rules suggests that lots of people are though!

Is it because he is Quins that you don't like him? I generally find him to be quite good.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by Gooseberry on Wed Mar 01, 2017 9:50 am

It was good in the sense of dramatic, but not in terms of play. Its one we will remember for sure.

I comepletely agree that Englands execution of basic skills was as much if not more of factor than Italys tactics or a filure to adapt and with the points about the confussion with the refereeing. Lets also not forget that Italys try came form an outrageous piece of fortune from a bad kick (helped out by some switched off england players) and the other one from George Ford being a complete lightweight and the only genuinely good piece of skill displyed by Italy all game.

Englands early comeback in the second half wasnt really down to them doing anything different, just doing things differnetly. And again we saw a try come from opportunism (Care) and a switched off defence rather than any outrageous skill or tactical adaptation.

The tactical and place kicking was the worst I can ever remember seeing from England, even more so than the Ford display which lost him the kickers role in the first place. Italys place kicking wasnt any better, but not far below their usual standard.

When England are switched on they are by far the strongest team in this tournament, and keep winning games by turning up for just long enough. Its pretty worrying that they so often fall apart, but if they can bring back consistently high peformance for even 60 of the 80 minutes then they should defend the slam. The problem is as the torunaments progressed they seem to have upped the errors rather than reduced them. Scotland and ireland seem to being performing much more consistently.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by cascough on Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:16 am

Largely agree with what you say Goose. But no-one performs for 80 minutes. Not even NZ. Even they will have a period of the game where their intensity drops and mistakes creep in and the opposition are in the ascendancy. Thinking back to the championship and the first game against Argentina. Argentina were in that game for 50 minutes. For that 50 minutes NZ made quite a few errors and struggled to cope with Argentina's phase play. For the majority of that 50 it could be argued Argentina outperformed them. Argentina weren't clinical enough to take the game away and when NZ turned it on in the last 30 they absolutely smashed them. Don't let the result fool you though, it wasn't an 80 minute perfomance. Similarly when NZ played Wales, NZ made a lot of mistakes in that series. Their intensity dropped for noticeable periods of time. Again though Wales weren't good enough to make a serious impression on the scoreboard and we look back and see a comfortable whitewash.

England aren't at NZ level, but they are better than anyone else at performing at a high level for enough time to win. It's a very southern hempishere trait and although we will lose at some point, I'm not convinced that we often fall apart. I reckon dominating a test for 60 minutes is as much as you could ever get. I reckon it's more like 40 mins each most of the time, and some teams are just better at taking advantage when they are on top.

To use a Brian Moore-ism. Every team will have a period where they are dominant, no matter the opposition. It's what you do with that period that makes the biggest difference.


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Re: England vs Italy

Post by GunsGermsV2 on Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:32 am

Gooseberry wrote:It was good in the sense of dramatic, but not in terms of play. Its one we will remember for sure.

I comepletely agree that Englands execution of basic skills was as much if not more of  factor than Italys tactics or a filure to adapt and with the points about the confussion with the refereeing. Lets also not forget that Italys  try  came form an outrageous piece of fortune from a bad kick (helped out by some switched off england players) and the other one from George Ford  being a complete lightweight and the only genuinely good piece of skill displyed by Italy all game.

Englands early comeback in the second half wasnt really down to them doing anything different, just doing things differnetly. And again we saw a try come from opportunism (Care) and a switched off defence rather than any outrageous skill or tactical adaptation.

The tactical and place kicking was the worst I can ever remember seeing from England, even more so than the Ford display which lost him the kickers role in the first place. Italys place kicking wasnt any better, but not far below their usual standard.

When England are switched on they are by far the strongest team in this tournament, and keep winning games by turning up for just long enough. Its pretty worrying that they so often fall apart, but if they can bring back consistently high peformance for even 60 of the 80 minutes then they should defend the slam. The problem is as the torunaments progressed they seem to have upped the errors rather than reduced them. Scotland and ireland seem to being performing much more consistently.

You could probably say the same about Cares try that sparked England's renaissance. Quick tap Italy players asleep and bad tackles to blame.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Mar 01, 2017 10:34 am

He did.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by Rugby Fan on Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:07 am

cascough wrote:Well I think he is wrong on this so I'm not taking his contradiction seriously. Looking at the amount of people suggesting England don't know the rules suggests that lots of people are though!

Is it because he is Quins that you don't like him? I generally find him to be quite good.
On the BBC podcast, Monye defends the England players, saying that it's much easier to see what's happening from the sidelines, and with access to Google. It turns out Monye met O'Shea before the match and his old coach told him to make sure he knew his laws. He didn't know exactly what Italy were going to do but had an inkling. When he saw it, he still didn't know what Poite wanted. Like Haskell, he thought grabbing a player would make a ruck. The refs had since decided that wasn't sufficient but doesn't sound like they publicised the fact.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by Gooseberry on Wed Mar 01, 2017 11:30 am

Rugby Fan wrote:
cascough wrote:Well I think he is wrong on this so I'm not taking his contradiction seriously. Looking at the amount of people suggesting England don't know the rules suggests that lots of people are though!

Is it because he is Quins that you don't like him? I generally find him to be quite good.
On the BBC podcast, Monye defends the England players, saying that it's much easier to see what's happening from the sidelines, and with access to Google. It turns out Monye met O'Shea before the match and his old coach told him to make sure he knew his laws. He didn't know exactly what Italy were going to do but had an inkling. When he saw it, he still didn't know what Poite wanted. Like Haskell, he thought grabbing a player would make a ruck. The refs had since decided that wasn't sufficient but doesn't sound like they publicised the fact.

The BBC article actually gives more info on what went down and just how confused even Italy were on the laws/interpretations (and Poite)
Apparently they had been told by Poite that they couldnt directly challenge the scrumhalf which is what they had been intending to do and had to adpat their plan to one of just standing in the way of his pass or first receivers when told that there had been a recent change that would not allow that. Italy had been training an illegal tactic.They also only came up with it after an incident in the Ireland game.

The refs grabbing players to form a ruck is confussed too, thats how it was reffed for a time in super rugby after a number of games where "no ruck" had been used. They also experiemnted with treating tackles the same as rucks for an offside line, but that went wrong. As you say theres been a lack of clarity acorss the board on this area for some timethat only really got exposed when a side used the approach to excess.

So the narative that everyone except Hartley knew exactly what was going on, what the laws are/were, that there was nothing we hadnt seen a thousand times before going on, and that England are idiots is based on ignorance and listening to simplistic TV story telling.

World Rugby have again stated that they are looking to issue a clarification rather than a law change.


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Re: England vs Italy

Post by lostinwales on Wed Mar 01, 2017 12:29 pm

Farrell did have a horrible game but given how good he has been he's earned the right to have the odd poor one - just not next two games please..

Ford's kicking was poor too. May is so dangerous with chasing kicks but it was very frustrating seeing the kinds of kicks he could have made a difference on going far too far even for his lightening legs. What with Brown refusing to pass too he was a passenger until replaced by Nowell.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by Poorfour on Wed Mar 01, 2017 1:59 pm

Just a note on the kicking. In the stadium, the wind was horrible. In particular, it was swirling around and not blowing in any one direction from moment to moment. If you watch the flags on top of the posts, they moved a lot during the game and were sometimes pointing towards each other.

Neither side kicked well, but the conditions were some of the worst I've ever seen for kicking because of the variability of the wind.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by Big on Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:14 pm



True, but they had BOD then. And we had Hape...and Banahan

Gaaah don't remind me.  I still remember cringing in embarrassed agony as Gabby Logan asked BOD pre match how he would cope tackling someone of Banahan's size...    FFS, as if he'd never tackled a rampaging forward.  I can't remember how BOD answered, but I remember that it looked like he was trying not to laugh.

Getting back to the England Italy game (and sorry if this has been mentioned elsewhere and I've missed it in the reams of pages of discussion) but I think Farrell is getting an overly hard time with the kicking.  The reality is that everyone was kicking badly, and it's worth remembering that it was blowing a bit of a gale (certainly was where I am at that time).  It looked to me like some of the kicks veered a long way to one side or the other, and others went dead straight.  If right, that does make kicking for goal pretty difficult no matter how good you are.  Even the 'easy' kicks were going astray.  Arguably if that was the case he should have been a bit more conservative with his kicks to the corner, and maybe given himself more leeway for error - but other than that I suspect it was just one of those things, and there's not much that can be done about the kicks at goal.  Was anyone here there in the upper tiers?  And if yes, can you confirm one way or another on how windy it was inside the stadium?

Note: Just spotted Poorfour's comment posted while I drafted this and got distracted by work...  glad to know I'm not the only one thinking this!

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by dummy_half on Wed Mar 01, 2017 2:39 pm

Big wrote:


True, but they had BOD then. And we had Hape...and Banahan

Gaaah don't remind me.  I still remember cringing in embarrassed agony as Gabby Logan asked BOD pre match how he would cope tackling someone of Banahan's size...    FFS, as if he'd never tackled a rampaging forward.  I can't remember how BOD answered, but I remember that it looked like he was trying not to laugh.

Getting back to the England Italy game (and sorry if this has been mentioned elsewhere and I've missed it in the reams of pages of discussion) but I think Farrell is getting an overly hard time with the kicking.  The reality is that everyone was kicking badly, and it's worth remembering that it was blowing a bit of a gale (certainly was where I am at that time).  It looked to me like some of the kicks veered a long way to one side or the other, and others went dead straight.  If right, that does make kicking for goal pretty difficult no matter how good you are.  Even the 'easy' kicks were going astray.  Arguably if that was the case he should have been a bit more conservative with his kicks to the corner, and maybe given himself more leeway for error - but other than that I suspect it was just one of those things, and there's not much that can be done about the kicks at goal.  Was anyone here there in the upper tiers?  And if yes, can you confirm one way or another on how windy it was inside the stadium?

Note: Just spotted Poorfour's comment posted while I drafted this and got distracted by work...  glad to know I'm not the only one thinking this!

It's not just judging the flight that becomes an issue when it is that windy. Kicking from hand is harder because the ball moves between leaving your hand and the point of contact, meaning you sometimes don't get a clean strike. From the tee, the issue is really about your balance and making sure you strike the right part of the ball with the right part of your foot. The ones that went near-straight were the well struck ones, the ones that hooked came because the kicker is losing balance and falling away slightly at the point of impact. Happened to both goal kickers, and while accepting Farrell is the better kicker, Allen missed a couple that on a normal day he could have back-heeled over.

Still think OF will accept he had an off day (the two penalties that went in goal being bad errors), but there was SOME mitigation.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by dummy_half on Wed Mar 01, 2017 5:48 pm

Just re-watched the first 20 minutes or so of the match. Poite has probably called 'tackle only' about 10 times, and by my reckining has been wrong 3 times including twice in a series of 3 tackles. He also correctly penalised an Italian for offside when a ruck did form.

Interestingly, I think he was also wrong on a few occasions (mainly when England have made the tackle) where he SHOULD have called 'tackle only' but instead signalled to the defence to observe the offside line.

Absolute nightmare for the ref, especially when players are initially committing either as the 2nd tackler or first defender into the ruck then moving away (happened a few times, as Hartley was rightly talking to the ref about)

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by robbo277 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 8:53 am

dummy_half wrote:Just re-watched the first 20 minutes or so of the match. Poite has probably called 'tackle only' about 10 times, and by my reckining has been wrong 3 times including twice in a series of 3 tackles. He also correctly penalised an Italian for offside when a ruck did form.

Interestingly, I think he was also wrong on a few occasions (mainly when England have made the tackle) where he SHOULD have called 'tackle only' but instead signalled to the defence to observe the offside line.

Absolute nightmare for the ref, especially when players are initially committing either as the 2nd tackler or first defender into the ruck then moving away (happened a few times, as Hartley was rightly talking to the ref about)

There was an interesting piece on rugby tonight about it. They showed why it was legal, how to counter it, and then discussed the referees.

They used footage of the Champions Cup to show a couple of instances where a tackle was made and a ruck was expected - but no ruck was formed. In the instances the showed, a player over the tackle line (what would have been the offside line had a ruck been formed) was penalised for being offside, despite the fact there was no ruck.

These players weren't deploying a deliberate no ruck tactic, just that when the first defender got there the ball had been secured so there was no point contesting.

The issue being that the referee, who was expecting a ruck, didn't check whether one actually formed because he had 193 other things to be checking for, and with hindsight we can all see that's now the wrong call.

Depending on the clarification, it's going to add an extra burden to referees. Maybe the referee will just have to police the tackle/ruck and leave the offside to his assistants, and then overrule if no ruck was formed.

It's going to be even more of a nightmare at lower levels when referees don't have assistants.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by GunsGermsV2 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:12 am

You are talking about it like every game is going to be like England v Italy. It wont. This tactic has been used lots of times before. France even tried it v Ireland the day before.

England just failed to adapt and now want to blame everything on everyone but themselves. The only reason Italy kept doing it is because it kept working.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by fa0019 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:23 am

GunsGermsV2 wrote:You are talking about it like every game is going to be like England v Italy. It wont. This tactic has been used lots of times before. France even tried it v Ireland the day before.

England just failed to adapt and now want to blame everything on everyone but themselves. The only reason Italy kept doing it is because it kept working.

I do think it was however the one time teams did it over and over again... even after England got on top of it Italy kept on doing it.

I also think it opened up a lot of eyes to the ruling. Take drop goals to win a game? Teams will literally stalk 10s from now on to prevent the move.
It won't happen as much but don't be surprised if you see the boks doing it now Venter will be looking after the defence. It won't be something you see every play but they'll throw the card down a few times to upset attacks and no.9s.

I recall the chiefs doing it vs. the Stormers and no one had an absolute clue what was going on.... Even the refs were giving penalties as they didn't know the rules. It was chaos.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by beshocked on Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:25 am

cascough wrote:Well I think he is wrong on this so I'm not taking his contradiction seriously. Looking at the amount of people suggesting England don't know the rules suggests that lots of people are though!

Is it because he is Quins that you don't like him? I generally find him to be quite good.

Why would it matter that he played for Quins? He's not bad for that reason.

I like Healey the most, Dallaglio has improved.

Greenwood played for Quins and I think he's one of the most intelligent pundits. Generally writes sensible things in the paper.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by dummy_half on Thu Mar 02, 2017 9:46 am

GunsGermsV2 wrote:You are talking about it like every game is going to be like England v Italy. It wont. This tactic has been used lots of times before. France even tried it v Ireland the day before.

England just failed to adapt and now want to blame everything on everyone but themselves. The only reason Italy kept doing it is because it kept working.

First part I agree with, at least as far as utilising the tactic consistently throughout a game. The interesting question is whether teams will become more selective in when they form a ruck, either as a tactical / strategic decision or simply because there is no point putting anyone but the tackler in as the ball isn't winnable, and whether they will then exploit the lack of an offside line more frequently.

I actually think England started to adapt by about 25 minutes, once they'd figured out what the ref was and wasn't allowing (e.g. not allowing England to drag Italians into the ruck). After that, the problem was more that they were playing pretty ropily. The other thing was that the Italian tactics meant England weren't able to follow their game plan in phase play - they had to improvise a pick and go and off-loading game rather than spinning the ball down the back line. After all, how many times did Te'o actually get the ball in his hands in the first half? As a tactic it at least neutralised the threat of runners in wider channels.

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Re: England vs Italy

Post by GunsGermsV2 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:34 am

I think Italy therefore should have been given a lot more credit. They were still in the game with 10 minutes to go. Their tactics were spot on. Not only did they use the ruck tactic they used a lot of box kicks and Garryowens which neutralises England's ruck and turnover threat in defence and keeps them pinned back. It has proved successful against England before and worked well last Sunday.


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Re: England vs Italy

Post by fa0019 on Thu Mar 02, 2017 10:37 am

GunsGermsV2 wrote:I think Italy therefore should have been given a lot more credit. They were still in the game with 10 minutes to go. Their tactics were spot on. Not only did they use the ruck tactic they used a lot of box kicks and Garryowens which neutralises England's ruck and turnover threat in defence and keeps them pinned back. It has proved successful against England before and worked well last Sunday.


The scoreline certainly suggests so. I think its a shame they didn't try it in their last few games... had they waited I think they could have pinched a victory. Point reduction sure but in the end they didn't get a bonus point.. had they sprung it vs. Scotland or France I think they may have shocked them.

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Re: England vs Italy

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