25 Feb 2013

6 nations rugby, round 3

England vs France is always the scene of some folklore

The big match of the weekend was of course the France vs England game (aka "the Crunch"), played this year at Twickenham. I had bet on a close voctory for England, and the game should probably have had a closer end score than it actually turned out (23-13). With France having its back to the wall after successive defeats against Italy and Wales in the first two games of the series, despite being one of the favourites for this year's tournament, they were likely to be dangerous in this game and they did in fact pose serious problems to England's defense during the first half, scoring a brilliant try through Wesley Fofana and finishing just ahead at half-time (10-9).

France's Wesley Fofana goes over for his try, the most spectacular action of this game, after a 60 metre run and five avoided tackles. You can see some helpless English defenders on the floor in the background.

But the French team then tired in this very physical game after 60 minutes, and lacked both discipline and clairvoyance at crucial moments. The only English try was a lucky one, scored by Manu Tuilagi, who had always looked dangerous, making several breakthoroughs bofore this effort that more or less sealed the fate of the game.

Tuilagi scores England's only try, after a ball flies out of a ruck into his hands

"There will be blood" could have been the title of the scenario for this game, and Owen Farrell in particular appeared to lose his cool rather unnecessarily at times, although he was clearly tripped when going for a loose ball at one point: a foul that went unnoticed by the refereee and would have cost France a yellow card.

Overall England deserved their victory by their discipline and their constant attempts to vary their play and keep this in the adversary's half, but this was far from an easy victory and France can be proud of their performance. England now look very likely to win this tournament, and only Wales can seriously prevent them from winning all their games and so getting their first grand slam for 10 years.

Keith Earls looked dangerous for Ireland but was held by good collective defense by the Scots

The other games held lesser interest. I watched Scotland courageously defeating Ireland 12-8 in a tight game. Ireland badly missed their fly-half Sexton in this game. Ireland's 2 consecutive losses (against England and Scotland) will make them a difficult adversary for France who will travel to Dublin for their next game and try to avoid the wooden spoon award for being last in the tournament, even if their last game, against Scotland and at home, should be well within their capacities.

Mike Phillips spins out a pass for Wales

I did not watch the Wales vs Italy game but it would seem that the Welsh won quite easily (9-26 in this game played in a very wet Rome). The Italians must have sorely missed their captain, Sergio Parisse, who had been suspended the week before during a club game that I attended and for what seems to have been an imaginary "insult" proferred to the referee of that game, who has since been suspended himself for his poor performance on that day.

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