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How Did The Teams Rate?
Posted Mar 31, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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So, another Six Nations tournament has concluded, and now all eyes will be on the World Cup. But how have those Six Teams performed in the grand scheme of things? With those southern hemisphere teams looming large, lessons must be learned. So, how have those participants performed?
England. B. Overall, Martin Johnson’s team were effective and played some decent rugby on their way to four wins out of five, standout victories including a dominating display against Italy and a scrapping win over France that effectively sealed the trophy. However, their meek performance in Dublin that prevented the Grand Slam gave out warning signs that they should avoid self-congratulatory back-patting just yet.
Ireland. C+. Definitely the dark horses of the tournament, the Irish actually ended up with three wins out of five, and two losses that were down to their own lack of a killer instinct rather than any particular positives from France or Wales. Their fire and brimstone display against the English highlighted the unstoppable fury that the Irish can generate, but until this ire represents the norm rather than the exception, they will continue to struggle against the best.
France. C. A questionable defence of the title from Marc Lievremont’s team, who started fairly strongly but then could not demonstrate the skill or positive attitude that earns victories, and suffered losses to both England and Italy as a result. Even in their opening two wins they conceded six tries, and there is obviously significant room for improvement despite the natural talent they still possess.
Wales. D, A definite case of ‘should do better’, Wales showed flashes of brilliance, but they were all too often wrapped up in a team demonstrating a fervent lack of imagination. They demonstrated no desire to keep the ball alive during play, with less possession in their opponent’s 22 than any other side and also fewer completed passes. The odd piece of intense play won’t be enough to guarantee anything other than an immediate elimination from the World Cup.
Italy. D. Without doubt the most marvellous part of the tournament was the defeat of France by Italians, of whom many critics had claimed shouldn’t even be participating. They were definitely more adventurous in this tournament than in those of previous years, passing more often than at least three other sides, and kicking out of hand the least. Unfortunately, they still suffer largely from that extra bit of quality.
Scotland. E, Very much not a vintage year for the men from Murrayfield, Scotland seemed like they had a complete absence of ideas – failing to ever really demonstrated any creativity despite being second only to Ireland in terms of the time spent in the opponent’s 22 with the ball. Their inability to tackle hard was what really made them toil, trailing in four matches to a very early try. Huge improvements will be needed.