Irish Competence, Same Old England and Journalistic Difficulties

1 03 2010

An English Perspective

Writing on this website has given the Compulsive Hooker an insight into how difficult it has been for English rugby journalists to earn their crust over the past few years. There are only so many ways to skin a cat as the saying goes, and with England’s hopelessness continuing game after game, each article is simply a repetition of the last with only a few minor variations.

Normally a journalists repertoire of potential articles would consist not only of match build up (how the team can win, who the key players will be etc), match reports, player ratings and what the team need to improve on for the next game. However in England’s case, with the build up being what England need to do and the match report and post game verdicts on what they didn’t do being virtually the same article, albeit in the past tense, it makes it hugely difficult to maintain the readers interest.

The other stock page filler is the interview/homage/profile of any established legend or up and coming hero. This was shown to be impossible in the current rugby climate when the Times ran two pieces side by side on the two Danny’s, Care and Cipriani. Care’s piece could be placed in the ‘young upstart becomes central pillar of English rugby’ category and Cipriani’s was firmly in the ‘wronged up and coming hero’ category. All these pieces served to underline was the levels of rugby poverty England are going through. Cipriani has long been hailed as the up and coming star of the next generation, yet this article was misplaced as subsequent reports of childish behaviour during England Saxons Italy game has shown. The article on Care, however, defied rational belief in that whilst he has had his good moments in the 6 Nations, the key flaws in his game remain and in another era would not be receiving this current run in the team. A quick glance at the newspapers comments section of either article backs this up convincingly.

Therefore and with this all in mind, we are not going to rewrite for what is already the 4th or 5th time about England’s or more particularly Martin Johnson’s failings, as by simply clicking here you can see everything that needs to be said has already written.

Regarding the match in particular only a couple of specific points are worth mentioning with regard to next weekend:

  • Foden to start at 15 next week: We are big fans of Armitage but he is a faltering presence this season, his injury perhaps still affecting him. Foden looked threatening and importantly played with real purpose.
  • Hodgson for Care: Quicker service, no unnecessary extra steps. We would actually prefer to see Ben Youngs given a go but this is unlikely considering Johnson’s innate desire to negate risk.
  • 60% possession, England making only 40 tackles compared to Ireland’s 109, 2 scrums won against the head and home advantage should have translated to a comfortable win. Yet it didn’t.

An Irish Perspective

This was a pleasing and much needed win for the Irish. Wins at Twickenham are rarely easy (even recently) and considering the problems at scrum time and the levels of possession enjoyed by England, this was a win to be proud of. Where Ireland won the game was the effectiveness of their defence and the frequency with which they turned the ball over, 13 times in total.

Despite Jonny Sexton’s off day with the boot he showed exactly why he was preferred to Ronan O’Gara, providing a genuine threat and pivot for all Ireland’s attacking play. Whilst they could hardly be accused of setting Twickenham alight with brilliant running rugby, Ireland played a more balanced game than England, moving smoothly between different facets of the game.

The Compulsive Hooker has always been a fan of Geordan Murphy and it was pleasing to see him come back and play with such good effect. Whilst he is very unlikely to displace Kearney completely, he is a good back up and with Ireland building to the World Cup in 2011 strength in depth is key. Keith Earls also showed glimpses of his running ability with a couple of scintillating breaks.

All in all Ireland should be pleased with the win although the problems with the scrum remain. John Hayes and Cian Healy is a partnership hardly to be feared in the front row and with Hayes having reached his 100th cap yesterday perhaps it is time to put him out to pasture.

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2 responses

2 03 2010
Will Buck

England are weak and do not commit men to the breakdown EVER! Ireland’s strength and the reason they wone was their back-row. They slowed down ball well and turned-over possession at key moments. England allowed them to do it by having forwards standing in the backs and not clearing out rucks. It is so simple yet we never do it. Extremely frustrating. Jonny was our main attacking threat with ball in hand and Care and Flutey on either side of him shied from decision-making. Barnes still attacking Jonny as are most journalists. Are they blind? Do they REALLY prefer Toby Flood? Please……
Borthwick has to go as does Louis Deacon. Our front five (apart from Dan Cole) was pathetic and it has to be the worst second-row pairing I have ever seen for England in my lifetime. Depressing.
On a positive note, Foden must start. Tait showed some flashes and we dominated in many facets. Dan Cole is someone to build a pack around. That is it.

2 03 2010
Bradders

I cannot stand Stuart Barnes’ Jonny bashing. Particularly when he is pushing Flood over him. I was puzzled by Flutey’s quiet game as I have always rated him, hopefully it was just an off day for him.

I agree totally on what you have said there Will. Its so frustrating that seemingly everyone can see it apart from Johnno.

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