Now that we’re past the mid-point of the 2006 RBS 6 Nations tournament, it’s fascinating to see that the competition is still wide open, with England, Ireland, Scotland and France all in the running to lift the trophy in 3 weeks’ time.
There were no less than 11 London-based players involved in the tournament during its third weekend…
On the up:
At last, Johnny O’Connor (Ireland, Wasps) made it onto the field for the final 5 minutes of Ireland’s thrashing of Wales. And in those 5 minutes, he managed to enjoy himself greatly, including some instrumental work in Ireland’s monumental final assault on the Welsh try-line.
Continuing the realisation that experience can pay dividends, the recall of the brilliant but gobby Thomas Castaignede
(France, Saracens) definitely helped France in their shaky win over Italy
. In particular, he demonstrated his class by slicing open the Italian defence on several occasions.
Another veteran French player, Raphael Ibanez (France, Wasps) worked hard to help France defeat Italy, and was involved in the lead-up to the penultimate try that ultimately put the game out of reach for Italy.
Despite one nightmare knock-on, Josh Lewsey (England, Wasps) returned from injury as England’s only player capable of demonstrating any significant attacking pace in their humbling defeat to Scotland. If available for selection, he will be a sure-fire start for England against France in two weeks’ time.
Eoin Reddan (Ireland, Wasps) may have enjoyed his team’s victory over Wales, but you can bet he’d rather have not had to watch the entire match from the bench.
Previously a hero for France’s fortunes, the experienced Olivier Magne
(France, London Irish) had a much worse weekend this time. He never quite found his form in the France-Italy match, and took a couple of big hits as well as giving away a penalty.
It wasn’t a good weekend either for Joe Worsley (England, Wasps), who was comprehensively out-performed by his opposite number (Jason White) in the England-Scotland match.
Simon Shaw (England, Wasps) came onto the field far too late to reverse England’s fortunes against a rampaging Scotland.
(England, Wasps) performed competently when he replaced England captain Martin Corry for the last quarter of the Scotland match, but was unable to inspire a better performance from the team.
(England, Wasps) will be hugely frustrated after being massively under-utilised in the England-Scotland match. Apart from a brief blood-replacement, and a quick run-out in the final 5 minutes, he had to spend much of the match on the bench watching a mediocre performance from Harry Ellis.Silky winger Tom Voyce
(England, Wasps) was forced to watch England’s defeat to Scotland from the bench. (God only knows why – he couldn’t have possibly performed any worse than the talentless lumbering Ben Cohen, who was allowed to spend an uninterrupted 80 minutes on the field stuffing things up.)
In a weekend of surprises, congratulations have to go to Scotland for prising the Calcutta Cup from England's cold dead hands...