23 March 2012

6 nations : final round and summary

The final round of 6 nations fell on the day when we were heading down to London for the David Hockney exhibition, so watching the games was iPlayer that evening and Sunday morning.

Italy v Scotland
The wooden spoon, and in the context of this years games, loser for the downtrow. Scotland looked abysmal, doing all the bad stuff they've become specialists in - ball dropping, fumbled passes, general confusion at ruck time. Italy were made to look good by comparison. Actually Italy didn't play too badly at all. This may herald the end of the scottish coach, Andy Robinson hasn't had the best results from a team who, potentially, could do quite well. If they mastered the basics, and had a bit of belief there's quite a good team lurking in there.

Wales v France
This was for the grand slam (Wales already having won the triple crown). In the time honoured fashion, the erratic French team turned up. It wasn't a pretty game, although in places the French looked good with some creative use of the backline. But Wales deserved to win this.

England v Ireland
heh and played on St Patricks Day too. As I've mentioned, the Irish team is looking old and bereft of ideas. This was clearly demonstrated as England, who are looking a more organised unit, ripped the Irish.
I'm not convinced over Stuart Lancaster's experience, but he has fashioned an interesting attacking, young (for England) team. They haven't been tested by a good team - Wales were playing very badly when they beat them - but they look good. And it would be a foolish English RU if they overlooked Lancaster. I'm not sure he needs an assistant coach, as has been suggested as a role for Nick Mallett (Italy and SthAfr).

Overall, quite a dull tournament. Wales deserved to win, even if they played badly a lot of the time. Wazza Gatland (I'm determined this will catch on) should have a productive few years with the team.
I don't understand the love of the up and under kick. 8 times out of 10, it goes to the opposition with no chasers and is essentially useless. And yet it's used all the time over here. Stupid.
The ball handling skills are also poor, which probably explains why the speed of passes and backline moves appear slow. It all seems laboured in the backline, and no-one really hits the line at pace - or more accurately, at pace on the angle.
I think that's tied in with the lack of vision at first-five/half-back, most attack is one off the ruck. Which is quite easy to defend against, hence the smash up, ruck, smash up etc appearance of most games.

The end of year tour by NZ could be a bit messy for the locals...
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