Planet Rugby

Loose Pass

10th March 2014 10:35

Share:

thank you message for Brian O Driscoll

Ireland: On the brink of giving BOD the perfect sendoff

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with Six Nations takeaways and a revival of an age-old debate...

The Six Nations crib notes from this weekend's work:

England: Very, very good. Good tempo, evidence of clear adherence to specific instructions and complete squad buy-in to tactics, a settled and confident look to it all. The pendulum for victory in the World Cup pool involving England and Wales just swung back across the Severn Bridge.

What might end up being most pleasing for Stuart Lancaster, even if he will only admit it very quietly, is that this victory in this style was achieved with many anticipated first-choice players cooling their heels in the physio's room. England not only have style and unity now, they also have depth. With 18 months still to build on all this before RWC 2015, the English are in a fine position.

Wales: Stale and tired. You cannot ignore that many of Wales' finest have been playing rugby for the better part of two years almost non-stop, nor can you ignore that the pressures emanating from the ongoing disunity between union and regions, departure of many a big name abroad and uncertainty over next year's domestic structures have a debilitating long-term effect.

But that said, Wales do not seem to have moved on tactically for some time. Where Danny Care was zippy and terrifying from the base of rucks, Rhys Webb was hesitant and Mike Phillips only marginally better (partly to do with the cleanliness of the ball they were getting). Jamie Roberts still seems to have only one dimension - throw all those stones of weight forward very fast and very straight - while the props are perpetually wearing the facial expressions of men who are being found out.

The team's reluctance to tweak a game cost them on Sunday, with England sensing that Wales' trimmed-down rucks could be challenged, also knowing that if you match Wales physically you are unlikely to be challenged any other way.

This is an issue of coaching to be addressed. For a great Welsh team, it is starting to look like the final step they never took: empowering senior players the ability to change tacks if the one is not working, or to tweak the straining aspects of a game plan so that the aspects that are working flourish.

France: How on earth they are in a position to possibly win this Six Nations is beyond us all. Disorganized, lacking in identity or purpose, tactically miles apart from each other and looking disinterested, this might be a lost generation rather than a lost team. When L'Equipe publishes its Monday headline 'Who's directing the French team?', you know something's up.

Ireland: The complete opposite of France. Settled, fighting for the common cause (glory in BOD's final year), now looking like they have the ability to change a game and open it at will, deadly when they get the upper hand. This is Europe's best team. Only a trademark 'where the hell did that come from' performance from France next week stands between Ireland and the title.

Scotland: Naïve in the extreme but the result must not mask the scraps of progress. The penalty count was high because once the Scottish players got the lead, they felt compelled to resort to desperation to protect it rather than just to ensure that discipline and control would protect it for them. That cost them the game.

But the Scots scored two tries - to add to two scored against Italy - and really should have won the game, something else they have not been able to legitimately claim for a long time now. Progress. Now let some maturity build upon it.

Italy: The scoreline masks Italy's contribution to the game. It was only late on that Ireland really found the spaces to ramp up the points count, and so much could have been different had Italy been able to finish off a few breaks. Probably not the result, but definitely the scoreline. Down and out Italy are, far from a breakthrough they are not.


Random Facebook moments are pretty good on Sundays when everyone's had a good weekend watching rugby and the beers have clearly been flowing.

Challenged on Sunday to name a greatest-ever XV - but only given 60 seconds to do so - made for some panicked decisions among the group (one person in the party, no doubt a little giddy at England's victory, named Jonathan Webb at full-back!)

Here's the team that the Facebook group (none of which were Planet Rugby staff members - Ed.) decided had the right balance to it, but the number 14 jersey came in for some scorn as the weak link! How's about yours? 60 seconds, blank piece of paper, no cheating now!

15 Serge Blanco, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Rupeni Caucau, 10 Dan Carter, 9 Joost van der Westhuizen, 8 Kieran Read, 7 Richie McCaw, 6 Richard Hill, 5 Victor Matfield, 4 Martin Johnson, 3 Carl Hayman, 2 Sean Fitzpatrick, 1 Os du Randt.

Loose Pass compiled by Richard Anderson

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 19
Gloucester vs Exeter19:45
Saturday , September 20
Sale vs London Welsh14:00
London Irish vs Saracens15:00
Harlequins vs Wasps15:00
Bath vs Leicester15:15
Sunday , September 21
Newcastle vs Northampton14:00
More Aviva Premiership fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 19
Munster vs Zebre19:30
Cardiff Blues vs Ulster19:35
Connacht vs Leinster19:35
Saturday , September 20
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow14:40
Scarlets vs Benetton Treviso18:00
Sunday , September 21
Ospreys vs Edinburgh16:00
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Friday , September 19
Brive vs Toulon18:00
Saturday , September 20
Racing Metro Paris vs Toulouse18:00
La Rochelle vs Bordeaux-Begles18:00
Grenoble vs Bayonne18:00
Castres vs Oyonnax18:00
Clermont Auvergne vs Lyon18:00
Montpellier vs Stade Francais18:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Currie Cup
Friday , September 19
Lions vs Pumas19:10
Saturday , September 20
Western Province vs Griquas15:00
Blue Bulls vs Sharks17:05
Eastern Province Kings vs Cheetahs19:10
More Currie Cup fixtures
ITM Cup
Thursday , September 18
Northland vs TaranakiNorthland vs Taranaki Preview
Friday , September 19
Counties Manukau vs CanterburyCounties Manukau vs Canterbury Preview
More ITM Cup fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
ITM Cup
Wednesday, September 17
Southland 14 - 38 TasmanSouthland vs Tasman Report
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Sunday , September 14
Wasps 20 - 16 NorthamptonWasps vs Northampton Report
Newcastle 18 - 20 London IrishNewcastle vs London Irish Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 GlasgowCardiff Blues vs Glasgow Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Bordeaux-Begles 27 - 21 MontpellierBordeaux-Begles vs Montpellier Report
More Top 14 results
ITM Cup
Waikato 26 - 21 Counties ManukauWaikato vs Counties Manukau Report
Hawkes Bay 41 - 0 Otago
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Saturday , September 13
Gloucester 34 - 27 Sale SharksGloucester vs Sale Sharks Report
Bath 53 - 26 London WelshBath vs London Welsh Report
Exeter 20 - 24 LeicesterExeter vs Leicester Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 14 - 10 South AfricaNew Zealand vs South Africa Report
Australia 32 - 25 ArgentinaAustralia vs Argentina Report
More Rugby Championship results
Guinness PRO12
Leinster 42 - 12 ScarletsLeinster vs Scarlets Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Top 14
Toulouse 9 - 13 Clermont AuvergneToulouse vs Clermont Auvergne Report
Bayonne 23 - 6 Brive
Oyonnax 40 - 27 Grenoble
Racing Metro Paris 28 - 11 LyonRacing Metro Paris vs Lyon Report
Toulon 24 - 28 Stade FrancaisToulon vs Stade Francais Report
More Top 14 results
Currie Cup
Griquas 31 - 27 PumasGriquas vs Pumas Report
Lions 35 - 33 Western ProvinceLions vs Western Province Report
Cheetahs 30 - 30 SharksCheetahs vs Sharks Report
More Currie Cup results
ITM Cup
Bay Of Plenty 12 - 27 AucklandBay Of Plenty vs Auckland Report
Southland 36 - 34 Northland
More ITM Cup results
Aviva Premiership
Friday , September 12
Harlequins 0 - 39 SaracensHarlequins vs Saracens Report
More Aviva Premiership results
Guinness PRO12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 21 MunsterBenetton Treviso vs Munster Report
More Guinness PRO12 results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Saracens29
2Bath29
3Leicester Tigers29
4Exeter26
5Northampton26