Loose Pass

Date published: November 19 2014

Welcome to Loose Pass, our regular weekly collection of stray boots, one-handed knock-downs and bodies on the ball.

Welcome to Loose Pass, our weekly collection of stray boots, one-handed knock-downs and bodies on the ball. This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with the second round of Tests…

Another week, another bout of talking points. Are England developing a miserable losing habit? Why don’t Wales ever perform against the Pacific Islanders? Where have Scotland been hiding all these years? Is France’s renaissance for real? Read on…

England: For about as accurate an assessment as I could have mustered, read no further than Ben Coles’ response to England’s performance here:

Beyond that, but also as many have pointed out, Stuart Lancaster is now facing questions laced with a good deal more hostility than at any time during his tenure. Promise is nothing without delivery and England have been showing stacks of the former for a long time now while the latter remains frustratingly absent.

They seem stuck in the cycle. Lancaster has commendably changed the culture, making it a key element of his tenure to bring back the ’emotional glue’ that held England together so well 10-15 years ago. He has also set his stall out to improve the skills of the players. Both have happened and the upswing has been palpable.

But the development after: a discernible playing style and incremental improvements in game-play decision-making as individuals and as a team, just do not yet seem to be happening. Twelve months out from the World Cup, this England team needs to find a fresh sense of direction again, or it is going to be an early curtain in 2015.

South Africa: The excellence of Pat Lambie in the number ten jersey creates an intriguing conundrum for Heyneke Meyer. Lambie is still only 24 years old, a fact that raised eyebrows across every face in the bar I was watching the game at on Saturday.