England Rugby, victory in Australia – Thoughts and Reflections – Sat 25 June 2016

Some immediate thoughts in the aftermath of another amazing win…..

The English team showed great spirit when Australia kept coming back and back. They looked a bit tired and both missed and fell off far too many tackles, which showed in the amount of tries conceded, but showed great belief and confidence going forward. They took their chances and never let their heads drop.

You always got the feeling that England would win because of the inner confidence and belief within the group. Some teams have that – like England in 2002/3, Wasps in the mid 2000s, the All Blacks (most of the time esp the last RWC) and in football,  best Man Utd teams of the Fergie era.

Some thoughts on individual players :

Brown – battling, determined and ever committed but too slow at times when clearing the ball.

Nowell – lively as ever going forward but surprisingly missed far too many tackles.

Farrell and Ford – both played very well in all respects, confident thoughtful and ran the game well. Kicking today was very good.

Youngs – not perfect but looked quite lively at times and got the team on the front foot.

Billy – occasionally excellent but surprisingly turned over too often plus missed a few tackles, needs a summer break.

Robshaw – clearly a good bloke and has shown immense commitment after previous disappointments.

Itoje – awesome again. Hasn’t lost a match all season. Strong fit athletic and very intelligent. World class. Man of the series.

Kruis – huge progress and now a definite starter.

All the front row – have all upped their games, both in the scrum and around the pitch. Strong ball carriers and whilst not perfect in the scrum, always end up par or just on top. Solid.

The bench – strong and positive. All very good internationals in their own right and contribute. Eddie has used them very well and is not afraid to make early changes. Today was a case in point – Harrison is an excellent player and has a big future but Eddie could see that the team were losing out at the breakdown and needed more bulk, strength and ballast. They needed to make some big hits and were clearly missing Haskell so he bought Lawes on and he made an immediate impact. Brilliant and decisive management, as had been the case when he took off Burrell for Farrell in the first test.

Eddie – brilliant. Coach of the year. He just gets it. In a way, the English approach and winning today was arguably his greatest achievement bearing in mind it was a dead rubber. To win  today caps it all off perfectly. To have lost wouldn’t have been disastrous but would have left them all feeling a bit hollow about what might have been. As it is they can enjoy the night and enjoy the summer.

Australia- really not a bad team at all and there are signs that they are finding their A game. Can be very dangerous going forward but just make too many errors and lack discipline at times. Hooper is awesome as was McMahon today, he has a big future. With Pocock and Fardy they have an excellent back row.

In the backs, Foley had a fine series ball in hand but kicking needs work. He can’t afford to miss touch from penalties and needs to be more consistent with his goal kicking.

Toomua looks very good and having ball players at 10 and 12 clearly makes a difference, as England have shown.

Folau is Rolls Royce, gifted smooth and elegant and the new boy Haylett-Petty is confident, but it all falls apart at scrum half. Phipps is a liability. Whilst he has talent he makes far too many errors for an international player.

Well done England, bring on the Autumn internationals and hats off to the Aussie coach!

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