England Rugby. No.10

Very satisfying to see England do so well against Tonga.
No doubt the forth coming fixtures against Australia and South Africa will be a more compelling contest.

Is Marcus Smith the future of English test rugby?
Or has George Ford yet to give us his best?
Will Owen Farrell be included in the next starting 15 ?

My take is this:

EJ sees international rugby as a risk business, hence the desire to pound the oppo with strong forwards so as to generate chances for the backs via having plenty of space - which = the kick-festing which has gone on, as it’s been all about territory & pressure via defence.

Obviously, when England’s forwards have been matched/mis-fired (e.g. Wales, Scotland especially), this Plan A falls apart and there is precious little Plan B (esp absent Manu), as the likes of Farrell, Ford and Daley (at 13 or 15) offer little running threat, especially when ball off-9 (the infamous Youngs’ 2-step) is considered. During some of the games in the last campaign, there was an undue urgency to shift the ball to the wings - almost like schoolboy rugby, with a dollop of hospital passes!

Personally, I’d take Ford over Farrell, as the former has more passing vision and plays closer to the gain line, plus both suffer the same in tackling.

When it comes to starters, I suspect Farrell will get to play 10, with Smith on the bench. I cannot see how Smith at 10 can play with Farrell outside him, as that would remove Smith’s fluidity and the pace on the ball.

I’d love to think Smith is the future, as England need more threats on the park but it would go against the grain for EJ given past approaches.

Another teasing question is who plays at 8, as Dombrandt and Smith seem to link-up very well.


Yea, hard to see Jones dropping Farrell unfortunately. I’d start Smith, Manu, Slade…

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So would I, with Dombrandt at 8. With Lawes, Curry/Underhill (either) and Dombrandt, you have a good combo of handling and tackling, plus Itoje can compete for the ball.

Akin to the ABs, their game is about speed & handling (esp when Carter was at 10), not just setting up more phases from the ground.

To me, Curry isn’t a natural 8 - plus he’s a penalty magnet.

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I’d like to see Willis given a run in the back row - assuming he recovers from injury…

I doubt EJ wil be that bold, although he does seem to be in the mood for a fresh approach. Thankfully.

I know it was ‘just’ Tonga but it always amazes me that England would not pick Slade every time, or indeed that he missed the Lions Tour. Such a smart and creative player. I suppose Farrell could play 12 with Slade at 13 Jones but he loves Tuilangi so that seems unlikely. Maybe Smith will get 30 mins as sub.

I watched the three games this weekend and enjoyed Aus v Scotland most. Not always perfect execution but what pleasure to see teams not resort to a high kick after two phases. Wales did pretty well in their arm wrestle with SA in the rain-I am assuming that COVID means they do not get to play ‘indoors’?

Finally, without wishing to sound like an old fart; what is it with Rugby haircuts? I can just about live with the shaved temples but the dead cat mullets are quite awful. NZ seems to be the trend setters there. Ghastly.


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You need a Manu-type player at 12 (or inside centre) so as to hold the defence and pin-in the oppo 10/12 and flankers. If Farrell played 12, he’d invariably kick, plus the opposition backs would suffocate the 13 outside him, as they know he doesn’t have the pace for a break and/or the running skills. There’s also the issue that he’s weak in the tackle.

Slade is very good, quicker than he looks and can tackle OK (having bulked-up a bit) but he’s another who hasn’t the pace for an outside break and as regards the Lions, I think he suffered when compared to the likes of the Welsh & Irish centres and their more open game-plans - of course, the irony being that Daley played 13 for the Lions (and not very well IMHO).

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I totally agree re Farrell, he is at 10 or doesn’t play for me, but EJ played Ford/Farrell so maybe he will play Smith/Farrell? Not my choice.

Maybe when Farrell has finished we will appreciate him more, or maybe last season was just a bad one but he seemed to me to be holding England back in the 6 Nations, and yet undroppable.


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Smith plays but oh deary me, what a porridge of ideas going on here:

1- fastest and highly dangerous winger dropped (inc. from 23) for a specialist #12/13.
2- 2 x Prem #8’s on the bench and a #7 playing 8 - and he’s never looked entirely comfortable to me.
3- OF at 12, to do what exactly?..don’t tell me, kick it a lot.

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Predictable but lamentable from Jones

Yes, agreed, all that wasn’t an obvious direction.
So, being positive, let’s hope it also gives the opposition a lot to think about to…

My feeling is the Aussies will be hurting after the Scotland result and will come out challenging harder as a result. Expect lots of naughtiness from Hooper :flushed: I mean, more than he normally does anyway.

Come on England

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Told you EJ might squeeze them both in, but Tuilagi at wing? All looks a bit of a mess to me, and I was never convinced by Ford/Farrell at 10/12.

If EJ lacks the courage to drop Farrell why not give him and Smith a half each, but with a balanced midfield to play with.

The back row looks similar, EJ fitting in the players he doesn’t want to drop by sticking them out of position.



My take is that in life there are times when orthodox approach needs questioning but here Jones in keeping OF is sacrificing pace on the wing (e.g. Radwan) and slowing down midfield opportunities - e.g. Slade can drop in to a receiver role (he’s a converted 10) and England would end up with more options on the pitch.

It’s like playing chess and opting for 3 knights or bishops by not playing with a queen!

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I hope they don’t kick it, (a lot).
I really sincerely desperately hope a lot of kicking is avoided.

I genuinely understand how this benefits a team, I mean the tactics of forcing a team back and then defending, waiting for a mistake and then securing possession further up… For a while it worked.

But it’s rubbish rugby to watch. More importantly, England (Jones) have been found out. Most teams have evolved to play better against this style of rugby.

At the end of the day, you still have to attack, to get across the try line. Whether you do this having worked your way into the opposition 22, from kicking a lot. Or from attacking more directly, from anywhere on the pitch.

The fact England seem to have woken up (IMHO, belatedly) to the idea you have to have an attacking game too, is only positive. So, I’m super excited to see how they evolve with this in the next few matches.

Aside from it being the best way forward, it also makes for a much better spectacle for all the fans and paying public. We all want to see free flowing, running, ball in hand, attacking rugby.

There. Got that off my chest.
Now, come on England.


I don’t think it’s a question of lacking the courage to drop Farrell, it’s that he has his favourites - and Farrell is one such. A bit the same with Ben Youngs, and with playing Curry at 8 - and Dylan Hartley…

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Same difference surely?

At least he never tried Dylan Hartley at No. 8…

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I just don’t understand how this selection is developmental for the team as a whole.

It’ll be interesting if Smith, with his dancing feet, can generate line breaks and who can get to his shoulder.

I wonder if Jones is worried that if Smith doesn’t get a grip on the game and a Plan B is needed, Farrell will already be on the pitch to drop in at 10 and bring on a winger, with Manu back in to 12?

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I actually see that you have a valid point there.

To commit to Smith, and all that he can bring, maybe requires a more balanced back line and a proper winger. So, yes, this approach does look like a compromise with a built in contingency, as you say…

But, we’re speculating.
We haven’t seen what they’ve been practicing on the training park all week.
So, I’m now just looking forward to seeing what they do.

Come on England.

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I’m positive about Smith playing, but I am wondering who will be the next captain as I think Farrell is running out of ideas - as is Jones.

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