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Rflect


Time to Reflect


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England won the Six Nations with something to spare and showed a lot of good rugby. Sports writer James Mckay-Mount takes a look back at England’s tournament.


WITH the world cup only a few months away the Six Nations is a good chance to gauge the progress that our teams have made since the last one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag and in some cases the progress could be said to be positively backward.


England have won a Six Nations for the first time since 2003 but in the end they only limped over the finishing line. On the final day,


Wales were still in with a chance to win the tournament but in the end, they never really looked like beating France who came out after their historic loss to Italy and showed the rugby world that they are still the team to beat in the Northern Hemisphere.


Martin Johnson will be happy with the way that England started the Six Nations. Against Wales they looked dangerous with ball in hand. The defence was outstanding, a wall of white set to frustrate and break every Welsh attack.


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Against Italy they dominated and made the Italians look bereft of ideas. They cut Italy to shreds and the Foden Ashton combination proved merciless in routing the Italians who, after coming so close against Ireland, must have wondered what happened.


The nerves were tested against


France but they came through with just enough to do the job. Then came Scotland, who played their best rugby of the tournament but again England had just enough to scrape through.


Ireland put England to the sword in the final game of the tournament. This leaves us with the question, what happened? Why did England start so well and fade towards the end? It’s a controversial question; but are England that much better than the other Six Nations teams, or did the other teams merely play very badly?


The last weekend might leave one to draw the conclusion that Ireland and France were just sleeping and hadn’t quite woken up in the tournament. Both teams had received all the motivation they needed in their previous matches. Ireland with a try that shouldn’t have been and France with the biggest upset since the Six Nations began. Well they woke up ok and England went from being odds on for the Grand Slam to crying in a corner waiting for the big boys to go away.


The answer will no doubt come out in the world cup warm up games, but it will certainly leave Martin Johnson with plenty to think about. In public, he has been very positive but in private he must be wondering if his 2011 Six Nations win was built on sand.


By James Mckay-Mount


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