His work as a coach has been a success, let's not forget that Gatland took him on Lions tour over Shaun Edwards. If I was Irish i'd be worried about reports of him being too interfering during Lancaster's regime. However I think Schmidt is probably stronger than Lancaster and won't stand for any of that.
A few interesting selections from Eddie Jones yesterday. Itoje is a serious talent. Clifford looks very impressive also from the bits I have seen. Haven't seen much of Beaumont but he also seems promising. Be interesting to see if Elliot Daly starts - could be a useful kicking option, he has a huge boot on him.
6 nations not too far away now. Very hard to know what to expect from any of the sides this year.
Yeah I think England need to go with Ford at 10 to play a more expansive game and unleash the likes of Watson, Nowell... That said his form has apparently been poor for Bath this season so it may well be Farrell that is selected. Although I'd pick Ford regardless.
I think Jones needs to pick his 10 and stick with him. OK Ford might be struggling for form but he's got that creative spark.
With Farrell you know what you are going to get. Steady, kicks points, defends well and is fairly consistent. But he's that not player who will take us forward and get England playing that wide expansive game. The general consensus seems to be that Jones will go with Ford at 10 and Farrell at 12. Again that would be a mistake. Farrell is not a out and out 12. Once fit Slade should be the choice at 12 but until then I'd go with a natural centre and Joesph outside of him.
Ford was brilliant last weekend. Eddie Jones a big Sarries man though, so Farrell could well get the nod. Interested to see how England line up in the 6 Nations. Quite an exciting time for England rugby fans. Some very good young players coming through. Itoje looks a real prospect, possible future captain.
It would be a real shame if England go with Farrell.
Under Lancaster they showed signs of promise with Ford that they were playing a better brand of rugby. But then in the world cup they had one not so great performance and went back to Farrell. And funnily enough as a result they then as we all know lost to Wales and Australia.
Now I'm not blaming Farrell because who knows if Ford would have made a difference. But I do think against Wales who at one point were on the ropes and were falling with injuries Ford would have won us the game. He'd have game the game to Wales when we had a good lead and been more ruthless. Instead we sat back and they cane back.
I think it all depends on who plays 12 for England, playmaker or a 'battering ram'. I can see Jones going with Farrell-Slade at 10 and 12.
Massive win for the Ospreys at home to Clermont last night. The biggest win in many years for Welsh rugby. After many years of underachievement in Europe, Ospreys have ditched the galacticos tag and have built a side from within, without the money that the French and English clubs have. The game here in Wales is on the up now under the new WRU regime. More money is becoming available to our regional sides and there's more positivity from fans and the media now, while we were doing well at international level there was a lot of problems elsewhere and everybody was working against each other. Still a lot of issues to sort out but the new WRU has already started to make a difference.
I think England should be looking for a good distributor at 12. For me the long term option would be Slade. But of course he's out.
Joesph certainly did enough in the last Six Nations to deserve his place at 13. He's got that spark that all teams want and need. So I guess the argument with Slade AND Joesph at centre is that's a lot of creativity and so Farrell would be OK at 10? But I still don't like that personally...
I'm glad Welsh rugby is on the rise again. My missus and best friend are Welsh so I actually have a soft spot for them (que the abuse ). For a while the future of Welsh rugby looked dicey due to them losing players to the English and French leagues. So it's good to hear they are turning it around.
My dad is English so take an interest there so it's all good
Forgot Slade was injured. Perhaps Daly will get a shot in there next to Joseph although think he's more a 13 than a 12, from what i've seen he can play 12 though. Devoto and Sam Hill the other options. The squad selections at centre do point to having a playmaker at 12 and I think Farrell will get the nod at 10. Could perhaps see Farrell at 12 though with Ford in at 10.
Farrell was excellent for Sarries yesterday. Ford was fairly poor for Bath. Probably not a fair duel though given that Baths pack were second best against Leinster whereas Saracens pack dominated Ulster... Ford playing behind Sarries pack would be interesting. But Farrell has definitely looked to work on expanding his game this season (albeit I've only seen him against Ulster twice) but on both occasions he was very flat and his distribution was excellent.
Wasps very cruelly denied the win in Toulon this evening. Looked a probable knock on in the Toulon try in the last play of the game as well. Joe Simpson had a storming game again, seems to have had an excellent season. A bit surprised he was left out of the English squad, although some very good options at scrum half.
Leinsters young guns shone again yesterday evening - Ringrose really is a joy to watch. I doubt he will be involved in the 6 nations but a fair few calling for him to start, O'Driscoll being one of them. I'd love to see him start, but only if not at the expense of McCloskey who is probably the form centre in Europe at the minute. The guy is a serious specimen and is having an incredible season. For excitement sake I'd love to see McCloskey at 12, Ringrose at 13, Fitzgerald on the wing and Henshaw at 15. But I'd be shocked if it happened. McCloskey-Henshaw would be a very exciting centre combo either. Want to see something new post World Cup.
Awful performance today. And it begs the question... Is it the manager or is it the players? Because I'm thinking it's the players. That was a dull drab performance...! That was right out of the Lancaster, Johnson and Woodward book. Boring forwards based game but the forwards aren't as dominant as they once were or need to be.
To be fair to Haskell, he had a good game, England need to drop him or Robshaw though and play a proper 7. Need more pace at openside, to slow at the breakdown, didn't turn anything over. Just felt that was the same England we've watched for the past 4 years. Same players, same England, same problems. Big conundrum at 10/12, neither particularly good goal kickers either.
That's my issue buddy... It was the same England we've seen for a decade now!
Slow ball, no imagination in attack, kick from hand and try to win the game through the forwards!
Trouble is the controlled kicking game isn't what it was and the forwards aren't as dominant as they once were. But ultimately it's dull and I guess in games like this it works. Would still massively come unstuck against a top team.
England have Italy next Sunday, so should provide a chance to give some new players a game. Even if some of those are from the bench. Itoje, Beaumont, Kvesic, Clifford, Devoto, Daly need to be introduced, England side looks in desperate need for some new blood to me. Goode for Brown at Full Back is long overdue too, kicking from hand not good enough, can't pass and Goode offers more.
Wales - Ireland today. Wales have players back from injury, Jonathan Davies at 13 the biggest return, missed him a lot at the World Cup. There's been talk that Wales are looking to change their style of play from the past 8 years of what we've called "Warren-ball", Rob Howley has talked about us being more attacking and the players have also mentioned it. This team is coming in to it's peak years now, they've been together for 8 years now, they've earnt their stripes playing Gatland's way and now he's going to let the reigns off it seems. Not expecting it to work straight away though, it'll take time to get it right I think which is one of the reasons I don't think we'll win it this year. Ireland have a few key injuries though so if Wales can get the win it'll provide a massive stepping stone. Apart from Anscombe at Full Back, it's what I would say, a full strength Wales team, Webb still missing at scrum half too but Gareth Davies a more than adequate replacement. O'Brien and Rob Kearney big losses for Ireland but would still have Ireland as favourites at home.
Anscombe out has been ruled out with injury, Liam Williams in to the squad, unsure if he's in at 15 yet though. Wales side improves on paper if he does come in at 15, questions over Williams' fitness though.
The England team needs a lot of new blood and I'm really not sure what game they want to play?
For me there's real potential in the backs if the right players are selected. But they want to play a forwards based game when I'm not sure the forwards are good enough to do that anymore.
I like brown at full back but yes he's kicking isn't good enough. But ball in hand he's one of the few players who want to get at people. I'm not sure by Nowell at all so that should be looked at.
Wales Ireland today... Given that it's in Ireland I think they'll win it but it'll be a tight game.
What's so good to see is that actually I'm not sure there's much between all of the teams this year. Anybody on their day could beat anyone. Which is great for the six nations but not good for our hopes against the southern hemisphere teams.
Wales should have won that I feel, perhaps biased in that view though. Seemed like we were trying to play outside 12 more, with Roberts passing more rather than trucking it up, it'll take time for that to work though as I thought it would. Improved as the game went on. As usual we started the tournament slowly. Build on that and we should beat Scotland fairly comfortably. Think Ireland could find it tough out in France next week.
Advantage England after the first weekend. Tricky game up in Murrayfield. Home games against Ireland and Wales to come, both winnable.
See I was really pleased with the Welsh performance... For years they played some really good expansive Rugby but that's kind of gone a bit stale. But they took steps today towards opening the game up more. Thought they were unlucky and missed a couple of kicks / drop goals. But away to Ireland they've got to be fairly pleased with a draw and positive performance.
Another 3 pretty poor games in terms of quality this weekend.
Very pleased about the Wales win and I won £30 in the sweep down the pub so happy days. Set piece was good. 3 tries, North try was excellent, want to see more from him.
First half from England today was very poor. After changes were made to back row they were much better, thought Jamie George was excellent at hooker too when he came on. 6-2 split on the England bench, not sure they can do that against Ireland or Wales.
France-Ireland was poor, more injuries for Ireland, a big blow with England to come next. Not sure what to make of France yet really. Think they're improving, Noves learning more and more about his team. Danty at centre looks a handful.
England were awful first half but fair play they put that behind them and second half ran away with it. Italy will be really really disappointed though because that game got away far too quickly!
The Wales game was an odd one. Wales started really well but they kept attempting the up and under kick! That other than the first try wasn't working. Came through in the end though and I'd have them as favourites to win the six nations... They usually do after a world rugby cup year.
Scotland did what they always do and I love hearing it... They were brave and plucky... IN DEFEAT!!! Haha haha haha got to love that.