Jason Robinson talks… 6 Nations, Vancouver & the merge.

March 17, 2017

Before Friday, Wales had struggled to put together a full 80 minutes but playing at home with a lot of pressure on the team and certain individuals, the Welsh responded perfectly.

George North silenced his critics, with ball in hand he was unstoppable and Rhys Webb was outstanding, he was involved in everything. I think the turning point was the Sexton yellow card, Wales took advantage of playing against 14 men and it showed when Webb went down the short side and put North in for his second try. Ireland thought they’d got themselves back into the game but a try was disallowed when Henshaw came in from the backs and tried to steal the forwards thunder. It was a technical error that cost Ireland dearly as it would have put them in the lead and potentially changed the outcome of the game. Not long after that moment, Jamie Roberts went over from a charge down and sealed the win in front of a passionate home crowd. Over the last couple of years, we haven’t really seen a lot of pattern or continuity with how Wales are playing but It was good to see them looking comfortable with ball in hand again.

Italy got off to a great start with Parisse going over to score after only 3 minutes but France soon hit back with a Fickou dummy straight up the middle, he had a great game as did Vakatawa, showing us exactly what a massive threat he is in attack. Tries from Picamoles and Dulin put Italy out of reach and helped the French pick up an important bonus point. The Italians picked up a try in the 81st minute but was too little too late and showed why Italy are at the foot of the table without a win in this year’s 6 Nations. This French win means they go joint second which is the highest they’ve been in the standings for some time and if they can finish with a win against Wales in Paris this weekend then I’m sure they will be happy with that.

“…they will be disappointed with the amount of tackles they missed, they will be looking to put things right this weekend.”

The Calcutta cup was another game I thought would be close as Scotland have been playing some exciting rugby but a Fraser Brown yellow card in the first couple of minutes meant that Scotland were on the back foot from the get-go. Jonathan Joseph was the star of the show, scoring a hat-trick, running some sublime lines and using his footwork to skip around defenders with ease. Scotland looked all out of sorts and will be disappointed with the amount of tackles they missed, they will be looking to put things right this weekend. You’ve got to take your hat off to England, to get 61 points against an in-form Scotland team is something to be extremely proud of. It was great to see Billy Vunipola and Anthony Watson come off the bench, they added power and speed and will be looking to do the same when they start against Ireland.
 England go to Dublin in search of back to back Grand Slams, which hasn’t been done since 1992 in the 5 Nations, but to add to the pressure they will try and pick up their record 19th win in a row. This will be the biggest game of the player’s careers and if England can block out the occasion and focus on the task at hand then I think they will create history this weekend. Playing against Ireland in Dublin is never easy, it’s St Patrick’s day and there will be a fantastic atmosphere around the ground. Conor Murray has been ruled out which is a massive loss as he has been one of the in-form players in this year’s 6 Nations but there will still be belief amongst the Irish camp, they spoilt the All Blacks party last year and will be looking to do the same to England on Saturday. Scotland will be devastated with their performance last weekend and will look to put it right against Italy. There is still a chance of finishing second if they can pick up a bonus point, so there is a lot to play for. France will want to finish on a high at home and Wales will want to carry on from where they left off last weekend against Ireland. France have turned a corner in my opinion, they look more composed on the ball and are looking dangerous with ball in hand.  

“England are playing some great rugby at the moment, they seem to have moved on from the last couple of years…”

Over to the HSBC World Sevens Series and it was a great win for England in Vancouver, beating the in-form South Africa who had won 4 out of the 5 tournaments prior to this tournament. England are playing some great rugby at the moment, they seem to have moved on from the last couple of years, where they’ve finished lower in the rankings and are emerging as one of the best teams on the circuit. The next stop is Hong Kong and England will be looking to continue their good run and close the gap between themselves and South Africa at the top of the standings.

In other news, Stade Francais and Racing 92 will merge next season and it has obviously come as shock to the players, these are two big clubs and to merge them means that a lot of people will get cut and a lot of players are now playing for their contracts and their livelihood. The players have gone on strike and you can’t blame them as it’s a challenging time for the players and something we certainly didn’t see coming.  

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