The RBS Six Nations very rarely disappoints and the clash between England and France at Twickenham was brutal. It was a good old physical battle with some crunching tackles and although France put England under intense pressure yet again this young side came up with the win.
It did not look like it in the first half and standing at the game with my mate from Gloucester Olivier Azam he was pretty certain France would pull off the victory. It was a quite different French side from the first two games with what looked like to me a much better balanced team who played with structure and intensity. What was good to see however was despite conceding a try to the wonderful Wesley Fofana England kept their heads and stayed calm. The wonderful strength in depth we are building up came to the fore with the replacements. How good was it to see three England replacements trotting out who all could have been starters. Rather contrarily France did the opposite and bought on players some not quite as good as the ones they took off. England in the last quarter looked full of energy and in control and although they were lucky the ref did not spot the little kick that would have ruled our Manu’s try they were dominating at that point.
So now of course there will be some hysteria about Grand Slams which to me is a mistake to think about the last game until you get there. I think this England side won’t do that and will show proper respect to Italy by focusing entirely on them and how to win their next game. As a player the Grand Slam will be sitting there in the back of your mind of course but coach Stuart Lancaster will make sure they do not get ahead of themselves.
Scotland turned rugby stats completely on their head yesterday by squeezing past Ireland with the smallest amount of possession and territory imaginable! This win will give them that vital confidence boost and may mean Wales won’t have it all their own way in two weeks time when they go to Murrayfield. However, Wales have a superb squad of players and coaches and I am still expecting there to be an amazing climax to the tournament coming up in Cardiff on Saturday 16th March with two teams having everything to play for.
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