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Saturday, August 13, 2011

Nations Cup: The natural order is restored

In the end the final results of the Nations Cup was pretty much as expected. England won, Canada made the most of home advantage to finish second, USA took third, and South Africa were fourth.

However, getting to that point was far from a smooth ride for all concerned. The group phase was full of surprises (or near surprises) as teams used the tournament to experiment with different players and formations.

Even on finals day, the winners had to work hard. USA's eventual 29-9 win over South Africa (see USA Rugby match report) came only after the Africans had challenged hard at the start, even taking an early lead. England also often found the Canadian backs difficult to handle, the skills of their sevens stars being a real threat. Though England lead from pretty much start to finish, eventually winning 41-19, Canada stayed with little more than a score of them until the final quarter of the game.  It is also worth recording that Canada's 19 points (and two tries) against England's strongest possible XV was more than England conceded in all the matches in their entire Six Nations campaign at the start of the year - in fact its the largest number of points a full-strength England has shipped in a single game since the World Cup final in 2006.

One interesting change over the fortnight was England's change of kicker - Emily Scarratt taking over all of Katy McLean's kicking duties by the end of the tournament - and to great effect, though Emily did not seem entirely comfortable at full back. Natasha Hunt and Kay Wilson also made impressive debuts, and the extra competition for places in the England backline seemed to have a noticeably beneficial effect the quality of handling by the England team.

The next time we will see an England team take the field will be in November - and their opponents then will be New Zealand. Are they ready?

RFU report


  1. Anonymous7:04 AM

    John - your wish to be a wannabe "sage" of the women's game is infuriating. 41-19 away from home against Canada is a hammering. Rugby lasts for 80 minutes - get over it!England are in pre - season with 6 new caps in the squad. You seem to miss on the fact it was 6 tries to 2!! Your hatred of the England team is shocking and biased. Quoting stats about conceding tries against englands srongest team is wrong!!! In Englands best 22, you can add a mixture of Croker, Turner, McGilchrist, Leonard, Oliver, Pocock, Barass, Fisher,Rozario, Waterman, Matthews etc - not a bad line up?
    If you want to be taken seriously, know your stuff! Before NZ (in November, not October), England play France twice. Make sure you know what's going on!

  2. Thank you for the refreshing feedback, anon. Its rather comforting that in the space of less than a week I have been accused of being appallingly pro-England and now appallingly anti-England, which probably means I must have it about right.

    I thought the Canadians played pretty well - as well as, indeed better than, anyone else England have played since the World Cup - and the the fact that they scored as many points as they did is significant. It really was not a walk in the park.

    As for the team, this was the strongest team the England coach could select - he said so. Who am I to doubt him. That there are other players at home who will be competing for places - there always are, but they weren't there.

    As for the dates... I thought it was the end of October. Didn't check. Thanks for the correction. Didn't know about the French games, though - must check up on that.


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