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6 Nations

Player Ratings – Ireland v England

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Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

A day to remember for some and to forget for others. We give our ratings. Let us know what you think over on Facebook or Twitter.

Ireland:

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15. Robbie Henshaw –  4

Obvious hasn’t played at Full-Back in some time. His attributes not best suited for an International 15. Matt Williams was quoted saying ” i’ve seen milk turn faster than Henshaw”

14. Keith Earls – 3

Caught out for opening England try with a poor defensive read. Targeted in the air and aerial battle against Jonny May. Tactically whipped off at HT by Joe Schmidt. Interesting to see if he starts next week in Edinburgh.

13. Garry Ringrose – 7

Ireland’s most dangerous threat going forward. Joint highest carrier for Ireland with 14 carries. With only 4 clean breaks for Ireland, Ringrose had 2.

12. Bundee Aki –  6

Oddly played at first receiver a lot, second highest passing back. Managed Tuilagi well and carried well.

11. Jacob Stockdale – 6

Most prolific player with ball in hand this evening with 74m ran. Ultimately at fault for 2nd English try but a solid enough display for the Ulster man.

10. Jonathan Sexton – 3

Possibly his worst outing in a green shirt, certainly his worst in the last few years. Emphasises how important an in form Sexton is to Ireland success.

9. Connor Murray – 5

Rare to see Ireland being dominated in an aerial battle. Perhaps more to do with the strength of the English players in the air than the quality of kicks. Exceptionally busy in defence with 12 tackles, the highest in the backline, double the amount of 2nd place Ringrose.

8. CJ Stander – 6

Ireland’s joint top tackler with 17 tackles and 0 missed. 2nd highest carrier with 11 carries. Huge work rate but not as dynamic as usual with only 6m gained.

7. Josh Van Der Flier – 6

Similar to Stander, huge work rate as always, 17 tackles made and 0 missed. 1 handling error.

6. Peter O’Mahony – 5

Unusually quiet game, in comparison to his fellow back rowers, 9 tackles, 2 missed and carried 6 times for 2m. His game will be remembered more for his ‘Stupid c***’ remarks towards Kyle Sinckler.

5. James Ryan – 7

Typical industrious performance that we have come to expect from the Leinster man. Most willing carrier in the pack with 14 carries.

4. Devin Toner – 5

Solid in the line out, ineffective going forward and will be disappointed with a poor clear out leading to a turnover. Ireland will hope his injury isn’t serious given the current state of the 2nd row options.

3. Tadgh Furlong – 7

Typical strong carriers and solid in the scrum. 1 memorable carry taking 3 Englishmen to finally ground him.

2. Rory Best – 6

1 crooked lineout. Key secondary shove for Healy try. Typically aggressive and persistent at the breakdown.

1. Cian Healy – 7

A willing carrier with 9 carries. Got across for Ireland’s opening try. Solid in the scrum. Has definitely reclaimed the Irish 1 jersey.

Replacements:

16. Sean Cronin – 7 – Put Cooney in for late try.

17. Dave Kilcoyne – NA

18. Andrew Porter – NA

19. Quinn Roux – NA

20. Sean O’Brien – 7 – Good to see him back in the green. Could be pushing for a start next week.

21. John Cooney – NA

22. Joey Carberry – NA

23. Jordan Larmour – 5 – Didn’t get to use his trademark quick feet. Will be disappointed with defensive display making 1 and missing 2.

England:

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15. Elliott Daly –  8

Try, assist, solid in the air.

14. Jack Nowell –  8

Most metres made by any English player with 56m. Even deputising in the backrow during Tom Curry’s period in the bin.

13. Henry Slade – 9

Our Man of the Match. Continual threat with the ball in hand. Busiest English back with 11 tackles. 2 tries, showing great pace for the try from Jonny May’s chip.

12. Manu Tuilagi –  8

Great to see him back in the England starting XV. Solid display. Lucky that his no armed clear out on Jacob Stockdale went unnoticed.

11. Jonny May –  8

Scored on 90 seconds. Totally dominated the aerial battle with his opposite wing with success time and time again.

10. Owen Farrell – 8

Leading from the front and with passion. Clever kicking, huge defensive display and directed the English side to victory.

9. Ben Youngs –  8

A reminder that Connor Murray isn’t the only quality box kicking 9 in the Championship. Regularly put England on the front foot with his pin point box kicking.

8. Billy Vunipola – 8

England’s most efficient carrier but maybe not as destructive as we’re used to.

7. Tom Curry –  7

Silly yellow card with his late hit on Earls. Harried the breakdown well

6. Mark Wilson – 8

Very effective with the unglamorous work required of a back-row forward. 21 tackles – Newcastle will be missing him over these next few weeks

5. George Kruis – 7

Unspectacular but effective work from Saracen’s second row

4. Maro Itoje – 8

England will be hoping that his injury will not be as it looked as he hobbled off the field. One memorable turnover. Fortunate that the collision in the air with Earls was only a penalty

3. Kyle Sinckler – 6

Quiet – only memorable for his exchange with POM

2. Jamie George – 7

Gave away two penalties. Tackled well

1. Mako Vunipola – 9

Extra-ordinary defensive effort. 25 tackles. Very unlucky that his first half try was contentiously denied for double movement.

Replacements:

16. Luke Cowan-Dickie – NA

17. Ellis Genge – NA

18. Harry Williams – NA

19. Courtney Lawes – 8 – Solid shift from the big 2nd rower.

20. Nathan Hughes – 7 Did well playing in the unusual position of 2nd row.

21. Dan Robson – NA

22. George Ford – NA

23. Chris Ashton – NA

Let us know what you think over on Facebook or Twitter.

6 Nations

Scotland Suffer Major Six Nations Blow

Scotland have been dealt a huge blow ahead of their Six Nations opener against Ireland in just over a week

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Scotland could be without fly-half Finn Russell for the entire Six Nations campaign according to reports after he left the team camp of his own accord.

BBC Sport are reporting that the 27-year-old Racing 92 star has breached “team protocol” and it has been confirmed by Scottish Rugby that he will not feature during the team’s opening game against Ireland on February 1st. 

“Finn Russell will play no further part in preparations for Scotland’s Six Nations opener,” a statement read.

Some believed that the player was injured during last weekend’s Champions Cup defeat to Saracens while on club duty, but there are growing concerns that there may be tension between Russell and head coach Gregor Townsend. 

Russell has had problems before with the coaches tactics and didn’t hide anything following last year’s Six Nations draw with England, when the Scots came back from 31-7 at half-time to draw 38-all in the end. 

“I actually had an argument with Gregor [at half-time]. I said to him ‘you’re telling us to kick and when we kick, they just run it back and cut us open, and when we run it, they’re just hitting us behind the gain line and winning the ball back’. Second half, we just came out with nothing to lose, played our rugby, kicked out of our half and scored some great tries. We played good Scottish rugby,” he said after the game last March.

However, there is no certainty as to what is the actual reason behind the scenario, but Russell will in fact head back to Racing for now. 

It is a huge blow for Scotland with Russell being one of the more experienced players among a young group, but it appears as though Adam Hastings would be most likely to take his place. However, fans will be worried with it being unknown whether or not their skillful playmaker will be involved at all during this year’s competition. 

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6 Nations

Smith Defends Parisse “Send-Off” Decision

Italian head coach Franco Smith has defended the decision to allow Sergio Parisse play only one game in the Six Nations this year in order to give him a send-off

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New Italy head coach Franco Smith has come out to defend the decision to allow Sergio Parisse have a send-off in the team’s final home match in the upcoming Six Nations campaign.

It has been confirmed that former captain Parisse, who has a total of 142-caps to his name for the side will not be involved at any other point of the competition other than their game against England in Rome on March 14th. 

The 36-year-old had planned to make his final appearance against New Zealand in the Rugby World Cup pool stages last year, only for the game to be cancelled due to Typhoon Hagibis. Smith believes that it is only right to give Parisse one last chance to play in blue. 

“Sergio will be involved in the last game with England and he has a lot to contribute. I said to Sergio two days ago not to worry and he doesn’t want to let the team down. I said we would stick to the plan and I will help him settle in and give him the best opportunity to play as well as he can. There was a misinterpretation that it will be a goodbye game and that is not the case and the agreement we have is that he is going to contribute one last time. We have turned the page, but he (Parisse) is a player of stature and deserves a send-off, but it is not just a send-off game and we hope he can make a difference and contribute from a leadership point of view and also be the icon we can follow,” he said. 

Smith thinks that the other players in the squad may gain motivation by seeing Parisse get a send-off as they will see what could happen to them if they reach the high-levels he has. 

“If other players see the send-off that Sergio gets then that will inspire them to be as good as they can be in an Italian jersey as well. He will come into camp when he can but we have also made an agreement with his club in France. He was a leader for Italian rugby for so long that very few leaders were developed and now it is time for a new leadership group and we have identified seven players of which Luca Bigi is the captain. Sergio will come and contribute for old time’s sake,” he added. 

The news has got a mixed reception from some fans, but maybe it will be something to motivate younger players in the squads as Smith believes. 

Meanwhile, the new head coach, who took over from Conor O’Shea following the World Cup, is looking to Japan for inspiration with his new side. 

“I want to help the team get to the next level and the game is going to change. Japan helped with the way they went about it ( at the World Cup) saying they couldn’t beat other teams with the way they play and we have to find our own way. I think that will be a point of reference (for us). For a long time Italy played in a way to beat teams not necessarily with their own game. The pressure game has been a feature of the last six or seven years and attack is the most difficult area to coach,” he finished up on. 

Italy face a tough task heading into the campaign with current Grand Slam holders Wales up first on February 1st, with the Azzurri looking to end a run of 22 defeats in a row in the tournament.

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6 Nations

Former Scotland Star Fearing Tough Six Nations Campaign

Former Scotland star Scott Hastings is fearing the worst for his country as they head into the Six Nations

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Former Scotland centre Scott Hastings has predicted a tough Six Nations campaign for the national side as they go through a period of transition.

The 65-cap Scot believes that last year was expected to be the year where Scotland produced their best, but they failed and they are now trying to figure things out with a younger squad. 

Some of those youngsters have starred for club and country including the likes of Jamie Ritchie, Darcy Graham and Magnus Bradbury, but Hastings is worried that they will lack the guidance of experienced players with veterans such as Greig Laidlaw, John Barclay and Tommy Seymour retiring after last year’s Rugby World Cup

“I think Scotland are in for a tough season. There is a new era ahead. The team needs to try to put the World Cup to bed but they have lost three experienced heads in Laidlaw, Barclay and Seymour. There needs to be a new energy coming into the team and you can see Gregor is trying to do that with the six uncapped players he has included in his Six Nations squad. But has Gregor learned from the failure of last year? There was a lot of expectancy on the team but they imploded on numerous occasions,” he said while speaking to PA news agency. 

With that in mind Hastings believes that other players in the squad need to step up including Finn Russell, who is now one of the most experienced players in the squad. 

“The things we need to see is how does George Horne become that experienced player, how does Finn Russell strike that balance between exuberance, mercurial brilliance with also the need to be pinpoint accurate so he can deliver a winning performance for Scotland. In the forwards, how does Zander Fagerson turn himself into the number one tighthead in the Six Nations, how does Jonny Gray become the Alun Wyn Jones of Scottish rugby?” he added. 

However, he doesn’t believe that Scotland will be the only side in transition this year with Ireland and Wales in a similar boat in his eyes. While he is backing the title to head to either England or France this season. 

“I think Ireland and Wales are going through something a bit of a transitional period, similar to Scotland. England and France undoubtedly look like the teams to beat but I’m afraid Scotland are looking at fourth, fifth and sixth. I know that sounds harsh and when I played I certainly never went into a season thinking like that. But while I’m still a passionate Scotland supporter this time I’ve got to lead my head rule my heart. They have shown in glimpses that they can play well but you need more than that to compete for a Six Nations title,” he finished up with. 

Scotland will want an improvement from last season, where they only managed a win against Italy and a draw with England in the Six Nations as well as exiting the World Cup in the pool stages. 

However, they face a tough task this time around with their opening game against an Ireland side under new management and eager to impress their new coaches.

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