England the title hope was shattered despite a brave fightback in a 15-32 defeat to Ireland at Twickenham as the hosts were forced to pay to play nearly 78 minutes with 14 men.
After Charlie Ewels’ red card just 82 seconds later, James Lowe immediately took advantage of the space with the hosts down to 14 to score one of four Irish attempts. When Tom Curry was due to retire shortly after, Eddie Jones may have known at the time that it should not be England Day.
Ireland were forced to cope with the storm, but go into the final weekend with a chance to capture France.
Earlier, Italy had lost their 36th Six Nations match in a row when they were beaten 22-33 by Scotland in Rome – and on Friday night, France ensured that they remain on course for the Grand Slam after driving past Wales.
I looking at the big discussion points from a crucial penultimate weekend.
Six Nations 2022
- Friday 11. Mar: Wales 9-13 France
- Saturday 12 March: Italy 22-33 Scotland
- Saturday 12 March: England 15-32 Ireland
- 1. France – 18 points (played 4, won 4, lost 0, +56 points difference)
- 2. Ireland – 16 (played 4, won 3, lost 1, +84)
- 3. England – 10 (played 4, won 2, lost 2, +17)
- 4. Scotland – 10 (played 4, won 2, lost 2, -8)
- 5. Wales – 6 (played 4, won 1, lost 3, -27)
- 6. Italy – 0 (played 4, won 0, lost 4, -122)
England had too much to do
England were already second favorites against the shapely Ireland, as the scope of the task became so much greater with a red card to Charlie Ewels in the second row after just 82 seconds of the Six Nations showdown at Twickenham.
Ewels made an upright tackle on his opposing number, James Ryan, and the resulting clash forced the seemingly dazed Irishman off the pitch.
There was little debate about the challenge of meeting the criteria for a red card for abuse, as set out in World Rugby’s main contact frame. Judge Mathieu Raynal reviewed it with TMO Marius Jonker – he of resentment during last summer’s Lions tour And decided that the key functions had been fulfilled, namely the responsibility of the tackling player, and the degree of speed and power of the challenge.
This kind of contact with the head attracts the ultimate sanction because it is considered dangerous to the brain and, for all the judge knows, could be deliberate. But it got England to play a man less for 78 minutes, with all the obvious dominoes, including wing Jack Nowell, to act as an open side flanker in scrums.
The question was whether the red card was too harsh a punishment for an unintentional act – or was Ewels, clearly despairing as he walked slowly off the pitch, fully deserved to have his afternoon ended early? All professional players are well aware of the need to tackle at a safe and proper height to protect everyone involved, including the tackler himself.
England players in the rugby union expelled in tests:
- Mike Burton v. Australia in 1975
- Danny Grewcock against New Zealand in 1998
- Simon Shaw v New Zealand in 2004
- Lewis Moody v. Samoa in 2005
- Elliot Daly vs Argentina in 2016
- Manu Tuilagi vs Wales in 2020
- Charlie Ewels vs Ireland in 2022
New Zealand rugby in 2020 began to try a law that allows a player with a red card to be replaced after 20 minutes, as it was thought that there was too much imbalance and damage to the “play”, especially if unfair play happened early in a fight. .
It could not have come much earlier for Ewels when he was the seventh Englishman sent off in 131 years of testing. Raynal spent the rest of the first half going through the card with penalty kicks in England’s favor, whistling against the Irish for scrum wheels, a man in front of the kicker jumping over line-out, offside and hands in ruck.
Still, Ireland led 15-9 at the break with attempts from James Lowe and Hugo Keenan. It became more and more a stress test of England’s spirit and teamwork.
The Twickenham audience let it be known that they loved what they saw. They even briefly dreamed of victory when Marcus Smith The fifth penalty made the score 15-15 with one hour of play.
Then an attacking England line-out close to the opponent ’22 was squeezed by the green jerseys. And the great safety in the numbers made Ireland work as they pushed through with attempts from Jack Conan and Finlay Bealham in the final 10 minutes to keep their hopes of championship title running.
France scrapes through
French line-out problems and a brilliant performance from Wales No.8 Taulupe Faletau had kept the gap between the teams to 13-9 in the final stages. Home flyer Dan Biggar shot a cross kick wide to the left, where Faletau with deft hands fired the ball immediately back to Jon Davies, who dropped the pass.
Maybe Davies would have been tackled by the all-rounder Antoine Dupont, or maybe he would have forced his way across the line and brought undefeated Wales to the front.
The powerful sense of a Welsh near-miss was amplified when Biggar was late in the French 22 again, late, scanning his options with five French defenders in front of him and Gareth Anscombe and Louis Rees-Zammit waiting for a pass with Alex Cuthbert lurking. outside.
Biggar threw a dummy, but it did not get the French flyhalf Romain Ntamack who made a crucial interception. The French victory was closed by two turnovers from center Jonathan Danty – who is already a candidate for the championship player – and replacement Peato Mauvaka.
France’s English defensive coach Shaun Edwards has always said that the defense will win titles, and as Les Bleus move on to their potential Slam seal match against England in Paris next Saturday, that may be the case.
Biggar said: “I thought we were the better team in big periods of the match. Such big test matches probably depend on one or two moments – we did not quite manage those moments and we paid the price.”
Tackle criticism from Warburton
While the wait goes on for the Six Nations organizers to publish the results of a study of Wales prop Tom Francis’ concussion injury against England two weeks ago there was criticism of Welsh tackling technique from former captain Sam Warburton during the match against France on Friday night.
Francis’ sag attracted fierce criticism from brain injury advocates, including another former Wales smoker Alix Pophamwho said the prop showed clear signs of a “criterion a” loss of balance after a collision that made a tackle and should have been permanently removed from the track at Twickenham rather than being allowed to take a head injury assessment (HIA) and play on.
Francis subsequently passed return-to-game protocols and started in Wales’ front row against the French in Cardiff, where home coach Wayne Pivac said the player was “across” all the protocols and the handling of his injury. Then another disturbing episode unfolded with a different and undeniably correct outcome.
Wales scrum-half Tomos Williams seemed to suffer a loss of balance and control over one of his arms after making a challenge in the run-up to France’s first attempt in the ninth minute. Williams went on to tackle French center Jonathan Danty but got his head on the wrong side and it collided with Danty’s knee. And with the guidelines met, No. 9 was instantly submitted without any possible return.
“It should be a left-shoulder tackle, so Tomos Williams’ head should be on the right side of Danty,” said Warburton, who summed up for BBC television.
“I’m sometimes in disbelief when I watch international rugby on how many players do not choose the right shoulder – they just prefer one shoulder and they go with it. It is something that I think has been undertrained. ”
Warburton made a similar point about Wales prop Gareth Thomas, whose head was on the wrong side in a tackle on scrum-half Antoine Dupont. Thomas went to an HIA, passed it and continued playing.
More misery for Italy
The same old, boring story for Italy, which has now lost 36 games in a row in the Six Nations, and with the ambitious Georgia that has qualified for the World Cup 2023 in recent days – due to Russia’s disqualification – The debate over the ranks of Europe’s best tournament will rage on.
The Italians made their usual fist to it for about 20 minutes in the recent defeat to Scotland in Rome today and led 3-0, but the desperate drought since 2015 was exacerbated by Scottish attempts at centers Sam Johnson and Chris Harris in four minutes midway through. through the first half.
The Six Nations great men recently confirmed that Italy will not soon be dropped or even have to deal with the challenge of promotion and relegation.
But the return of the crowds to the Stadio Olimpico, in the gradual easing of pandemic restrictions, has resulted in a noticeably sour atmosphere from a loyal audience, understandably overwhelmed by the continuing setbacks.
Uruguay are the only Test team to be beaten by Italy in all matches since the World Cup in 2019. Italy kept at it, and TV summary Sir Ian McGeechan, the former Scotland and Lions coach, said it was “far their best performance “of this six nations; one that, in Geech’s opinion, lasted a full 80 minutes.
But the 33-22 bonus point win for Scotland sends the Azzurri to Wales in next week’s final round, where they face another Six Nations wipeout.