England rebuilding on a sure footing.
One of the things that I most enjoy about watching six nations rugby on the BBC is the forthright views of Brian Moore. Never one to shy away from a confrontation on the pitch in his playing days he calls the action as he sees it and it makes for highly entertaining TV.
Forwards who make mistakes and give away needless penalties are labelled as “Dim” or “Dull” as in “coming in from the side there was an extremely dull thing to do”.
The Referees often cop it for not being consistent enough and his and everyone elses favourite bugbear is the way that the game can be slowed down with the scrum half deciding to play the ball at his leisure at the breakdown.
Indeed I’ve seen Rugby Union games where the team leading and in possession has killed the game with ten minutes to go by retaining possession and going nowhere fast which makes an unedifying spectacle.
Rugby league has that side of the game sorted but don’t tell Brian I told you so.
This was a game of two halves with the French not bothering to turn up for the first half and gifting England a two try lead after fourteen minutes.
After a rollicking half time team talk they came out fighting and started pegging England back with a series of penalty kicks only to be undone by a moment of sublime skill and athleticism by Tom Croft who scored one of the tries of the series to give England the victory.
Possession is 9/10ths of the law so they say and as the man in the hot seat Stuart Lancaster can be immensely proud of what he has achieved in his short stint as the custodian of England’s rugby fortunes.
Why keep looking for a replacement when it is so obvious that given more time together this young England team can only get better and better?
Give Lancaster the job and let’s move on.
On the issue of referee consistency I think everyone is in agreement that the yellow card for “intentionally” knocking the ball forward was overly harsh on England however one of the benefits of the “sin bin” system is that the referees’ over zealousness does not totally ruin the game.
Ten minutes in the bin is a significant handicap for any team at this level of the game and is not to be under estimated.
However it is much more preferable to the alternative of sending a player off for the duration and destroying the game as a spectacle.
Football could do a lot worse than look at a sin bin system before trying to make goal line technology work.