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English 6 Nations

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Post by No 7&1/2 Wed 05 Jan 2022, 2:52 pm

First topic message reminder :

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/jan/05/six-nations-rugby-covid-rob-baxter

A potential answer to a potential problem. Baxter has said that if there is a risk of cancellations or playing in front of 1 man and his dog you may as well play all the games in England.

I suppose an interesting suggestion. If they could agree a slice of revenue from whichever grounds would host along with some teams giving up home advantage would people want to see this? It doesn't reduce the risk at all, merely increases it surely, gives England an advantage. It's unlikely the Government will bring in further restrictions as their hands are tied by the back benchers so reduces the risk of last minute changes. Just a big melting pot of cross contamination.


'Rob Baxter, Exeter’s director of rugby, believes that playing this season’s Six Nations in one country has “got to be better than cancelling it”.

The tournament is due to kick off in Dublin and Edinburgh on 5 February but currently finds itself shrouded in uncertainty. Under current Welsh Government restrictions imposed due to the pandemic and, specifically, the omicron variant, Wales would have to play scheduled home games against Scotland, France and Italy behind closed doors. Scotland are in a similar position for games at Murrayfield, while it has been reported that Wales could consider moving their home against Scotland, France and Italy to England.

Financial implications of behind-closed-doors home games for the Welsh Rugby Union would be significant. They faced an identical situation for last season’s tournament, with the shutters being down for matches against Ireland and England. Full crowds were, however, allowed at the Principality Stadium for Wales’ recent Autumn Nations Series before fresh restrictions took effect from Boxing Day.

Capacity crowds are currently allowed in England, provided spectators can prove full vaccination status or provide a negative lateral flow test. Against such a backdrop, playing the whole competition – it takes place across five weekends between early February and mid-March – in one country with permitted crowds has also been mooted in some quarters.

“The whole beauty of the Six Nations has been that change of environment, that change of weather conditions, going to play in Scotland, Wales, Ireland – those are the great challenges,” said Baxter. “That’s what makes the Six Nations such a great competition to win. You’ve seen French teams in that one week they can beat anyone in the world in Paris, and then the next week it doesn’t go quite so well in Cardiff. That’s the beauty of the tournament, that’s what from a rugby perspective I am sure we would all want to see happen.

“That said, we can’t all sit here and pretend the world is in an ideal place at the moment. For the national bodies, their responsibility goes beyond the professional sport, it goes right down to grassroots rugby, so if playing the tournament provides a level of income that cancelling it or no crowds doesn’t create, then we’ve got to look at the next best scenario. If the next best scenario is playing it in one country, where you can have sellout crowds, you can raise some revenue and you can keep that income stream going for all the bodies, then it’s got to be better than cancelling it.


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“I think with every sporting body, it’s revenue that is the biggest thing that has been damaged, so anything that can keep revenue online has got to be preferable to just binning things for a season,” Baxter added. “We’ve all had to try and find a way to keep going, to try and keep revenue coming in. It’s the same with any business, you’ve got to explore those options.”

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 12:08 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Interesting side bet then:

How many players who start against Scotland will make it through the tournament without going off through injury including concussion?

Probably a few...

But how many will be back quickly and generally be available for the majority of games...probably most of them.

Thats the difference.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 12:34 pm

Well there we go. Personally I'd rather be lining up with Tuilagi than Atkinson.

Would you have selected Slade in the squad given he's guaranteed to miss 2 games?

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:20 pm

Your really not getting my point at all are you....or being deliberately awkward as usual

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:39 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Compared to the other leading nations England are inferior in that department

Not really.

Yer really.

France
South Africa
Ireland

Not seen enough of NZ and Australia this year to comment.
England do not have a top class 12.

It is holding back what otherwise should be one of the best, if not the best side in the world

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:40 pm

I completely get your point, or at least I think I do: You wouldn't pick players unless they had had a run of games to prove their fitness in general and you wouldn't pick Tuilagi at all as you feel that he has an increased risk of injury. Is that not correct?

My point is rather than pick Atkinson which you said you would I'd rather risk it with a far superior player. The second point was whether you would have picked Slade in this squad given he's guaranteed to miss 2 games including the final one of England's tournament.

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Post by geoff999rugby Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:42 pm

Slate might not be allowed to play in the World Cup
depending on his vaccine status and French regulations at the time


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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:44 pm

Atkinson has a good injury record. He's also not good enough to have a long international career where he plays lots of games. In the few games he plays he wont be good enough.

Manu has a bad injury record that will prevent him playing a lot of games. In the few games he plays he actually will be good enough though.

Important distinction.

If being available made a centre good then Twelvetrees would have 100 caps. His injury record is excellent. Doesn't mean England would win tournaments with him.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:46 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Compared to the other leading nations England are inferior in that department

Not really.

Yer really.

France
South Africa
Ireland

Not seen enough of NZ and Australia this year to comment.
England do not have a top class 12.

It is holding back what otherwise should be one of the best, if not the best side in the world

Well we do in Farrell. Consistently picked by England, including in the record equalling run of wins of top tier nations. We already are one of the best teams in the world. Not that sure Paisami or the mixture that NZ are looking to settle on is that great either tbh. Ireland, quite like Henshaw, wouldn't have him above Farrel normally. 13s we have a good selection too.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:57 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:Slate might not be allowed to play in the World Cup
depending on his vaccine status and French regulations at the time


Fingers crossed it won't come to that but it's clearly a risk. He's risking it by missing a couple here to be frank. All it takes sometimes is for someone to come in and have a stormer and you can quickly find yourself down the pecking order.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 1:57 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:I completely get your point, or at least I think I do: You wouldn't pick players unless they had had a run of games to prove their fitness in general and you wouldn't pick Tuilagi at all as you feel that he has an increased risk of injury. Is that not correct?

My point is rather than pick Atkinson which you said you would I'd rather risk it with a far superior player. The second point was whether you would have picked Slade in this squad given he's guaranteed to miss 2 games including the final one of England's tournament.

Missing 2 games due to vaccine issues is very different to a player whos missed half the games he could have played (or more) due to injury..

He cant even score a try without getting injured...and once again hes had a set back and back on the physio table.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:00 pm

king_carlos wrote:Atkinson has a good injury record. He's also not good enough to have a long international career where he plays lots of games. In the few games he plays he wont be good enough.

Manu has a bad injury record that will prevent him playing a lot of games. In the few games he plays he actually will be good enough though.

Important distinction.

If being available made a centre good then Twelvetrees would have 100 caps. His injury record is excellent. Doesn't mean England would win tournaments with him.

Im no real fan of Atkinson...wouldnt have him in the squad. But the fact is....he IS there and is fit. Unlike the Manu....

And this all backs up why Jones picks Farrell....

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:03 pm

Yeah, deliberately ruling yourself out for 2 games is different from the potential of being injured I'd agree.

Atkinson and Slade for game 1 for you then? Atkinson Marchant for game 2?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:07 pm

Personally I'd bite the bullet and just have the guys I'd want to see next year in now. Quirke, Smith Farrell Marchant (given OW is playing this weekend). Let them have some games to gel, if this murmuring of a new more running based game is true, let them go at it, make some mistakes potentially but be backed now.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:26 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah, deliberately ruling yourself out for 2 games is different from the potential of being injured I'd agree.

Atkinson and Slade for game 1 for you then? Atkinson Marchant for game 2?

Thats a personal belief...shared by many...ill not go into that.

But 2 games out compared to however many Manu has missed over the years...big difference.

As i said im not an Atkinson fan..but hes selected in the squad and is fit and playing...unlike the other big centre we have.

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:34 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
king_carlos wrote:Atkinson has a good injury record. He's also not good enough to have a long international career where he plays lots of games. In the few games he plays he wont be good enough.

Manu has a bad injury record that will prevent him playing a lot of games. In the few games he plays he actually will be good enough though.

Important distinction.

If being available made a centre good then Twelvetrees would have 100 caps. His injury record is excellent. Doesn't mean England would win tournaments with him.

Im no real fan of Atkinson...wouldnt have him in the squad. But the fact is....he IS there and is fit. Unlike the Manu....

And this all backs up why Jones picks Farrell....
If being fit makes someone a good international then Twelvetrees is better than Wilko.

Being available doesn't make a player good enough. If there was a comparable option to Manu with a better injury record then there could be a discussion. There simply isn't though.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:39 pm

That's my view king. I do take the view that there is a lot of potential on the horizon though, same as Geordie.

Is Slade being given a free pass on his decision directly impacting England then? Geoff's quite correct in saying that there's no guarantee the law will be changed ahead of the world cup. THere'll be others as well, the AI squad was 85% compliant. Not sure I'll be delighted if we rock up to France on a potential grand slam missing 2 or 3 players tbh.

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Post by Soul Requiem Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:44 pm

You guys are aware that it appears Henry Slade has had the vaccine.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 2:50 pm

I was not aware Soul. Good news if he's fully vaccinated now then.

Oh, just from today, thought I'd missed something for ages. Sounds like Baxter giving the tick for all the Exeter players too which is good to know.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:17 pm

king_carlos wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:
king_carlos wrote:Atkinson has a good injury record. He's also not good enough to have a long international career where he plays lots of games. In the few games he plays he wont be good enough.

Manu has a bad injury record that will prevent him playing a lot of games. In the few games he plays he actually will be good enough though.

Important distinction.

If being available made a centre good then Twelvetrees would have 100 caps. His injury record is excellent. Doesn't mean England would win tournaments with him.

Im no real fan of Atkinson...wouldnt have him in the squad. But the fact is....he IS there and is fit. Unlike the Manu....

And this all backs up why Jones picks Farrell....
If being fit makes someone a good international then Twelvetrees is better than Wilko.

Being available doesn't make a player good enough. If there was a comparable option to Manu with a better injury record then there could be a discussion. There simply isn't though.

Where am i saying it is? Im talking about whats available and whats highly unlikely to be available.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:18 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:That's my view king. I do take the view that there is a lot of potential on the horizon though, same as Geordie.

Is Slade being given a free pass on his decision directly impacting England then? Geoff's quite correct in saying that there's no guarantee the law will be changed ahead of the world cup. THere'll be others as well, the AI squad was 85% compliant. Not sure I'll be delighted if we rock up to France on a potential grand slam missing 2 or 3 players tbh.

If he wasnt available and wouldnt be for the WC then you drop him from the squad....but thats very different to being missing for injury permanently over the years.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:24 pm

Yeah, one is taking a risk on an exceptional player, the other is a certainty. Well, would be before his swift change of heart.

I'd still be looking to play Farrell if he looks ok this weekend.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:36 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah, one is taking a risk on an exceptional player, the other is a certainty. Well, would be before his swift change of heart.

I'd still be looking to play Farrell if he looks ok this weekend.

Although A near certainty aswell...

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:50 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:That's my view king. I do take the view that there is a lot of potential on the horizon though, same as Geordie.

Is Slade being given a free pass on his decision directly impacting England then? Geoff's quite correct in saying that there's no guarantee the law will be changed ahead of the world cup. THere'll be others as well, the AI squad was 85% compliant. Not sure I'll be delighted if we rock up to France on a potential grand slam missing 2 or 3 players tbh.

If he wasnt available and wouldnt be for the WC then you drop him from the squad....but thats very different to being missing for injury permanently over the years.
He hasn't been injured permanently though, GF. As poor as his injury record is that's simply false. Manu's played 47 internationals. For reference that's one fewer than Jerry Collins played in his whole international career.

Nearly 50 international games in which England have had a player capable of doing things few others are. Obviously it could have been more than 50 without the injuries. That's not a reason to sniff at what he has added when fit though.

If there's a younger player with a better injury record offering similar then you go with the younger, fitter player. Outside of those circumstances, which practically never occur, you pick your best team available. When Manu's fit he's still obviously part of that team.

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 3:54 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah, one is taking a risk on an exceptional player, the other is a certainty. Well, would be before his swift change of heart.

I'd still be looking to play Farrell if he looks ok this weekend.

Although A near certainty aswell...
Would you permanently discard Anthony Watson now? Two achilles ruptures and a torn ACL in fairly quick succession.

Or would you have left Pocock out of the 2015 RWC, where he was absolutely magnificent, due to the three knee reconstructions in as many years leading into it?

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:15 pm

king_carlos wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah, one is taking a risk on an exceptional player, the other is a certainty. Well, would be before his swift change of heart.

I'd still be looking to play Farrell if he looks ok this weekend.

Although A near certainty aswell...
Would you permanently discard Anthony Watson now? Two achilles ruptures and a torn ACL in fairly quick succession.

Or would you have left Pocock out of the 2015 RWC, where he was absolutely magnificent, due to the three knee reconstructions in as many years leading into it?

Until he can play games and show hes fit yes.

We have a multitude of wingers....

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:21 pm

king_carlos wrote:
GeordieFalcon wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:That's my view king. I do take the view that there is a lot of potential on the horizon though, same as Geordie.

Is Slade being given a free pass on his decision directly impacting England then? Geoff's quite correct in saying that there's no guarantee the law will be changed ahead of the world cup. THere'll be others as well, the AI squad was 85% compliant. Not sure I'll be delighted if we rock up to France on a potential grand slam missing 2 or 3 players tbh.

If he wasnt available and wouldnt be for the WC then you drop him from the squad....but thats very different to being missing for injury permanently over the years.
He hasn't been injured permanently though, GF. As poor as his injury record is that's simply false. Manu's played 47 internationals. For reference that's one fewer than Jerry Collins played in his whole international career.

Nearly 50 international games in which England have had a player capable of doing things few others are. Obviously it could have been more than 50 without the injuries. That's not a reason to sniff at what he has added when fit though.

If there's a younger player with a better injury record offering similar then you go with the younger, fitter player. Outside of those circumstances, which practically never occur, you pick your best team available. When Manu's fit he's still obviously part of that team.

Jerry Collins was in the ABs squad for about 6 years. Manu has been in the England squad for about 10-11...

its really not a good record...and certainly has been worse in the recent years. Would i trust him to be fit when we really needed him.....no i couldn't bank on it.

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Post by Geordie Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:24 pm

And how many of those games has he gone off injured.

I mean even in the AI's he went off injured early...and that puts pressure on the rest of the team.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:30 pm

Well fair enough. I don't think we'd have done as well in the world cup without him and that's why I'd have him in the squad when fit no matter what. There's quite a list of players who have missed good chunks of rugby who I would always consider strong contenders for me. Risk vs reward, I mentioned plenty of coaches will take those risks, one of the most famous in my mind is McCaw in his final world cup. Playing with a broken foot, throughout most of it. Hey ho, personal choice on the level of risk adverse you want to be on the injury front. Some wouldn't have had May back due to his dodgy snout!

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 4:48 pm

Having run through Manu's entire England career out of interest to look at his playing time, he's been subbed in the first half twice his entire career. Interestingly he actually plays 80 minutes in the vast majority of games that he starts.

I agree that players should prove match fitness with their club first. As Manu hasn't been picked in this squad with no game time and had played very well for Sale prior to being picked in the AIs that isn't the case here though.

I've never agreed with the idea that players returning from injury need to string half a season of club rugby together to prove fitness if they're playing well after a few games though. If they return with their club and look way off the pace until they string half a season together that's a different topic. When Manu has come back from layoffs in recent years he's looked very good very quickly though. If he's fully match fit and sharp after two or three games for instance I don't see what Manu or England gain from him playing another 3 or 4 matches with Sale whilst England have a tournament going on.

Clearly an agree to disagree topic. As 7.5 says above a lot of very good rugby coaches consistently back players with poor injury records if they offer things others can't, which Manu definitely does.

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Post by majesticimperialman Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:24 pm

I would of thought by now (this 6ns) we might have seen Jacob Umanga in the England set up ( at least) in the England camp if not in the game sheat.
Does any one think he will ever make the England squad
at any time soon?

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:31 pm

He doesn't qualify for us. he's French.

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Post by majesticimperialman Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:36 pm

No 7&RE1/2 wrote:He doesn't qualify for us. he's French.

REALY? I thought he qualified through residency.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:39 pm

Nah. Capped 23 times for France. Not sure how you missed it.

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Post by lostinwales Thu 20 Jan 2022, 5:51 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:I would of thought by now (this 6ns) we might have seen Jacob Umanga in the England set up ( at least) in the England camp if not in the game sheat.
Does any one think he will ever make the England squad
at any time soon?  


There is a guy called Jacob Umaga who is currently serving a ban after 2 red cards in successive games. He did get a cap, and is possibly not far off but I'd be surprised if he makes it into the England squad on a regular basis.

We do have a few players coming through and I suspect that Bailey (in the wider squad this time) and Smith the younger will be the main threats to Marcus post RWC.

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Post by majesticimperialman Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:18 pm

lostinwales wrote:
majesticimperialman wrote:I would of thought by now (this 6ns) we might have seen Jacob Umanga in the England set up ( at least) in the England camp if not in the game sheat.
Does any one think he will ever make the England squad
at any time soon?  


There is a guy called Jacob Umaga who is currently serving a ban after 2 red cards in successive games. He did get a cap, and is possibly not far off but I'd be surprised if he makes it into the England squad on a regular basis.

We do have a few players coming through and I suspect that Bailey (in the wider squad this time) and Smith the younger will be the main threats to Marcus post RWC.


Ok so i spelt his name wrong. but you know who i was talking about.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:26 pm

Yeah the French guy

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Post by majesticimperialman Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:37 pm

No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah the French guy

Who does he play for then. Shocked kiss

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:42 pm

geoff999rugby wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:
geoff999rugby wrote:Compared to the other leading nations England are inferior in that department

Not really.

Yer really.

France
South Africa
Ireland

Not seen enough of NZ and Australia this year to comment.
England do not have a top class 12.

It is holding back what otherwise should be one of the best, if not the best side in the world

I don't think any Int side has two world class centres bar SA....not that they get that much out of them in attack anyway.

Most nations (Ireland, France, England, Aus), have 1 top class option and a mix of other levels......it really doesn't matter that much. As long as we can find a balance and a game plan to bring the best out of what we DO have, I don't have that many concerns. I personally just think Farrell holds us back from developing this.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 20 Jan 2022, 6:47 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:
No 7&1/2 wrote:Yeah the French guy

Who does he play for then. Shocked kiss

Wasps and France.

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Post by Gooseberry Thu 20 Jan 2022, 7:09 pm

lostinwales wrote:
majesticimperialman wrote:I would of thought by now (this 6ns) we might have seen Jacob Umanga in the England set up ( at least) in the England camp if not in the game sheat.
Does any one think he will ever make the England squad
at any time soon?  


There is a guy called Jacob Umaga who is currently serving a ban after 2 red cards in successive games. He did get a cap, and is possibly not far off but I'd be surprised if he makes it into the England squad on a regular basis.

We do have a few players coming through and I suspect that Bailey (in the wider squad this time) and Smith the younger will be the main threats to Marcus post RWC.

Yeah the two red cards have put paid to his chances, but he already seemed frozen out. Joe Simmonds is another young 10 who has done big things at club level but not really even been sniffed at as much as Umaga was.

Its very clear Jones has a plan A which is Smith, and as with the last world cup plan B wont be considered till after.

As for Farrell hes in the squad as captain, and Jones specifically said he wanted him to run the game for Smith. Like it or not seems pretty much a given hes starting 12

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Post by Gooseberry Thu 20 Jan 2022, 7:10 pm

majesticimperialman wrote:
lostinwales wrote:
majesticimperialman wrote:I would of thought by now (this 6ns) we might have seen Jacob Umanga in the England set up ( at least) in the England camp if not in the game sheat.
Does any one think he will ever make the England squad
at any time soon?  


There is a guy called Jacob Umaga who is currently serving a ban after 2 red cards in successive games. He did get a cap, and is possibly not far off but I'd be surprised if he makes it into the England squad on a regular basis.

We do have a few players coming through and I suspect that Bailey (in the wider squad this time) and Smith the younger will be the main threats to Marcus post RWC.


Ok so i spelt his name wrong. but you know who i was talking about.

I mean people were asking for Dane Coles to get recalled earlier in the other thread

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 7:36 pm

Gooseberry wrote:Its very clear Jones has a plan A which is Smith, and as with the last world cup plan B wont be considered till after.
That's true of most successful international sides to be fair. Very few deviate too much from what works best for them.

New Zealand from 2011 to 2015 were the most complete side I've seen but still had a very clear plan A they didn't really deviate from. That plan was avoiding arm wrestles. They frequently cut numbers at the lineout on their own ball to go off the top. Prided themselves on incredibly low error counts to avoid scrums and largely kicked to keep the ball in play to avoid giving the opposition lineouts. Contrary to popular belief given how many brilliant tries they scored they actually kicked more than any side in same period. Move the opposition around, keep it in play, tire them out, then use a very mobile and skilled forward pack linking with a brilliant back line to wreak havoc.

It was their ability to stick to that blue print strictly, but still identify any lapse from the opposition then ruthlessly take advantage with breathtaking attacking play that set them apart. 

I can't remember them suddenly kicking for touch rather than keeping it in play, kicking far less than usual or moving to a mauling game. It was a pretty strict and consistent plan A that they adhered to.

You could argue that they used Barrett and SBW from the bench in that period to change tactics later in games but I'd say that was still part of plan A. 20 minutes left, the opposition are knackered from the high ball in play time, here come two of the best individual attackers in rugby. Have fun stopping that!

God they played some beautiful rugby.

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Post by Poorfour Thu 20 Jan 2022, 8:25 pm

A couple of years ago, Umaga, Simmonds and perhaps Manu Vunipola looked to be vying with Smith for England honours.

I'm not sure what's happened to Vunipola, he seems to have slipped off the radar.

Simmonds had a great couple of years, but I think he's always been seen as a skilled operator of a well-oiled machine - superb at getting the most out of Exeter but without a truly differentiating characteristic of his own.

Umaga was probably the closest in talent to Smith, but I think has been shown to be much more fragile in temperament. He had a big loss of confidence (which may have started in the Quins v Wasps game where Smith nutmegged him) and the red cards speak to a need to mature.

The point is that none of them are showing the thing that differentiates Smith: the ability to present defences with more options than they can cope with, and pick the right one under pressure.

For all that Eddie says he's not going to build a game around Smith, it's clear from his selection that he is. The remaining fly half options - Farrell, Furbank, Malins - are competent but conventional, and England's attack is going to be built around stuff that only Smith can currently do. To the extent that there's a longer term Plan B, I think it's Ford: Eddie knows that he can bring him in and he will perform at least as well as any of the other options, and if an RWC squad were picked tomorrow, I'd expect him to be in it. But this 6N feels like it's about integrating Smith into the team and exploring the bench options when he's available rather than the backup should he be out longer term.
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Post by Gooseberry Thu 20 Jan 2022, 8:34 pm

king_carlos wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:Its very clear Jones has a plan A which is Smith, and as with the last world cup plan B wont be considered till after.
That's true of most successful international sides to be fair. Very few deviate too much from what works best for them.

New Zealand from 2011 to 2015 were the most complete side I've seen but still had a very clear plan A they didn't really deviate from. That plan was avoiding arm wrestles. They frequently cut numbers at the lineout on their own ball to go off the top. Prided themselves on incredibly low error counts to avoid scrums and largely kicked to keep the ball in play to avoid giving the opposition lineouts. Contrary to popular belief given how many brilliant tries they scored they actually kicked more than any side in same period. Move the opposition around, keep it in play, tire them out, then use a very mobile and skilled forward pack linking with a brilliant back line to wreak havoc.

It was their ability to stick to that blue print strictly, but still identify any lapse from the opposition then ruthlessly take advantage with breathtaking attacking play that set them apart. 

I can't remember them suddenly kicking for touch rather than keeping it in play, kicking far less than usual or moving to a mauling game. It was a pretty strict and consistent plan A that they adhered to.

You could argue that they used Barrett and SBW from the bench in that period to change tactics later in games but I'd say that was still part of plan A. 20 minutes left, the opposition are knackered from the high ball in play time, here come two of the best individual attackers in rugby. Have fun stopping that!

God they played some beautiful rugby.

I'm not entirely sure that quite equates to picking one young player without any backup in the squad who can enable England to play the way they do with him at 10, but sure thanks for taking the time.

The who having a game plan and sticking to it thing is another issue, if another sign of how rigid (self confident?) Jones can be in his decision making. Not saying its a bad thing per se, just clearly a thing with him that underpins who he is and how he does his job . And applying it to the half back selections in the build up to the last world cup was an area that Jones got fair criticism for.

Time will tell if putting all the eggs in the Smith basket will pay off, and also doubling down Farrell. Its the sort of thing that the Jones era will be remembered for, and judged on fairly or otherwise.

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Post by Gooseberry Thu 20 Jan 2022, 8:52 pm

Poorfour wrote:A couple of years ago, Umaga, Simmonds and perhaps Manu Vunipola looked to be vying with Smith for England honours.

I'm not sure what's happened to Vunipola, he seems to have slipped off the radar.

Simmonds had a great couple of years, but I think he's always been seen as a skilled operator of a well-oiled machine - superb at getting the most out of Exeter but without a truly differentiating characteristic of his own.

Umaga was probably the closest in talent to Smith, but I think has been shown to be much more fragile in temperament. He had a big loss of confidence (which may have started in the Quins v Wasps game where Smith nutmegged him) and the red cards speak to a need to mature.

The point is that none of them are showing the thing that differentiates Smith: the ability to present defences with more options than they can cope with, and pick the right one under pressure.

For all that Eddie says he's not going to build a game around Smith, it's clear from his selection that he is. The remaining fly half options - Farrell, Furbank, Malins - are competent but conventional, and England's attack is going to be built around stuff that only Smith can currently do. To the extent that there's a longer term Plan B, I think it's Ford: Eddie knows that he can bring him in and he will perform at least as well as any of the other options, and if an RWC squad were picked tomorrow, I'd expect him to be in it. But this 6N feels like it's about integrating Smith into the team and exploring the bench options when he's available rather than the backup should he be out longer term.

Furbank and Malins are not realfly half options, they are emergency injury cover . But its a fair point about Ford offering the "50 cap cavalry" option and being able to step into a matchday role at short notice, lessening the need for in squad cover. The low number of actual half backs in Jones squads is nothing new of course and very much seems to be part of how he likes to run things.

Vunipola is just in the wrong club really. Saracens have more utility backs than they know what to do with. But still surprised to see him left out for Alex Goode at 10. Very much a bit part player even with Farrell out which is quite sad really.


Jones on Umaga when he did first call him up:

“The development of the player is something no-one knows. All you can try to do is put him in an environment and encourage him to play to his strengths.He might graduate very quickly and be able to make sushi at the corner stall - and then he might be able to make sushi at a five-star restaurant."

Maybe its something he ate?

Looking back he was in or around squads for a year after that first call up, its only this autumn he was really jettisoned. But that does seem to be down to Smith grabbing the opportunities given him and Jones just not wanting a second choice around.


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Post by Poorfour Thu 20 Jan 2022, 10:04 pm

Malins was considered a serious fly half option at U20 and played a JRWC final there. He may well have settled at back three, but I assume he's still got the skills. And to be fair, Furbank did an OK job there, albeit against limited opposition. As an answer to the question "do we really need a replacement fly half on the bench?" they tick the box.
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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 11:28 pm

Gooseberry wrote:
king_carlos wrote:
Gooseberry wrote:Its very clear Jones has a plan A which is Smith, and as with the last world cup plan B wont be considered till after.
That's true of most successful international sides to be fair. Very few deviate too much from what works best for them.

New Zealand from 2011 to 2015 were the most complete side I've seen but still had a very clear plan A they didn't really deviate from. That plan was avoiding arm wrestles. They frequently cut numbers at the lineout on their own ball to go off the top. Prided themselves on incredibly low error counts to avoid scrums and largely kicked to keep the ball in play to avoid giving the opposition lineouts. Contrary to popular belief given how many brilliant tries they scored they actually kicked more than any side in same period. Move the opposition around, keep it in play, tire them out, then use a very mobile and skilled forward pack linking with a brilliant back line to wreak havoc.

It was their ability to stick to that blue print strictly, but still identify any lapse from the opposition then ruthlessly take advantage with breathtaking attacking play that set them apart. 

I can't remember them suddenly kicking for touch rather than keeping it in play, kicking far less than usual or moving to a mauling game. It was a pretty strict and consistent plan A that they adhered to.

You could argue that they used Barrett and SBW from the bench in that period to change tactics later in games but I'd say that was still part of plan A. 20 minutes left, the opposition are knackered from the high ball in play time, here come two of the best individual attackers in rugby. Have fun stopping that!

God they played some beautiful rugby.

I'm not entirely sure that quite equates to picking one young player without any backup in the squad who can enable England to play the way they do with him at 10, but sure thanks for taking the time.

The who having a game plan and sticking to it thing is another issue, if another sign of how rigid (self confident?) Jones can be in his decision making. Not saying its a bad thing per se, just clearly a thing with him that underpins who he is and how he does his job . And applying it to the half back selections in the build up to the last world cup was an area that Jones got fair criticism for.

Time will tell if putting all the eggs in the Smith basket will pay off, and also doubling down Farrell. Its the sort of thing that the Jones era will be remembered for, and judged on fairly or otherwise.
Ah yes. That unnecessary, overtly condescending Goose sign off in an otherwise engaging post with interesting points. It feels  familiar but still somehow unexpected every time. Like when an elderly family cat that's always hated you sits on your lap. Does it want me to stroke it or will it claw me if I move? The cricket and rugby boards have missed this. Genuinely good to have you back Goose.  Hug

If Smith gets a long term injury there's always the option of calling up Ford and playing a very similar game plan. For all the talk of "building a plan around Smith" from my view of the AIs the main difference was Smith playing in behind the backline a lot of the time so he could pick and choose when to enter as either a first or second receiver. It seemed we were using other players as first receiver a lot and playing off 9 a bit more so Smith could choose his moments. It's not a seismic change for a 10 of Fords experience to slot into.

I agree on the last line. Backing Farrell especially will be something that people only accept with excellent results. He is such a Marmite player that it's not like fans that hate him will think, "sure we fell just short but at least they are young, exciting and improving". If Farrell is involved through to 2023 then anything short of a grand slam and/or RWC win in the next two years will probably result in a lot of angry fans placing it largely at Farrell's door.

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Post by king_carlos Thu 20 Jan 2022, 11:32 pm

Poorfour wrote:Malins was considered a serious fly half option at U20 and played a JRWC final there. He may well have settled at back three, but I assume he's still got the skills. And to be fair, Furbank did an OK job there, albeit against limited opposition. As an answer to the question "do we really need a replacement fly half on the bench?" they tick the box.
If Farrell's at 12 then 10 is covered pretty well to be fair. He has his limitations as a 10 but there's worse injury cover than a 100 cap international who's been on 3 consecutive Lions tours.

I really wouldn't want to go into a tournament game with Malins, Furbank or Slade covering 10 as we did in Autumn though. Even if they were better in open play the mere fact that they are such average place kickers would be an issue in a tight, must win tournament match.

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Post by doctor_grey Fri 21 Jan 2022, 1:51 am

king_carlos wrote:
Poorfour wrote:Malins was considered a serious fly half option at U20 and played a JRWC final there. He may well have settled at back three, but I assume he's still got the skills. And to be fair, Furbank did an OK job there, albeit against limited opposition. As an answer to the question "do we really need a replacement fly half on the bench?" they tick the box.
If Farrell's at 12 then 10 is covered pretty well to be fair. He has his limitations as a 10 but there's worse injury cover than a 100 cap international who's been on 3 consecutive Lions tours.

I really wouldn't want to go into a tournament game with Malins, Furbank or Slade covering 10 as we did in Autumn though. Even if they were better in open play the mere fact that they are such average place kickers would be an issue in a tight, must win tournament match.
But what happens when Farrell gets injured? Who covers 12/13?
I wouldn't worry about Furbank's kicking. He has been good. Not sure about his range, to be fair. But I agree, going into a RWC without the right backup is a recipe for disaster.
And now for something completely different: Mitchell copped a yellow the other weekend and Furbank was the emergency 9 and did OK. Does this allow Eddie Jones to go to a 7:1 split????

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac Fri 21 Jan 2022, 6:54 am

If Farrell gets injured Slade would probably move in one & bring on Joe Marchant (bench cover) with Nowell or Malins on the wing.

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