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Six Nations 2022 (Round 3): England’s Young Players Impress

Below is the Round 3 analysis of the Six Nations 2022, which produced some stellar performances from England’s young players and highlghted the strength of the French.

England 23 v Wales 19

Is England a team in transition with young players developing nicely?

Four young English, players can be the foundation for an assault on the 2023 World Cup. Smith, Dombrandt, Randall and Steward are talented young players.

A South African friend of mine, who knows a bit about rugby, suggests Smith will be the best player in the World in 5 years’ time. It may be sooner than that!

There are still major question marks over the composition of England’s midfield. The answer is Jonathan Dante the French centre. But England’s equivalent Manu Tuilagi can’t put three games together. One English try, and a sneaky one at that is poor return for weeks of preparation.

Two seasons ago I complained, in writing, that England’s midfield, ignored obvious overlaps and grubber kicked to touch, to mild applause. Daly did it again in a four v 2 situation. This is not a problem of ability, it is attitude. Daly has pace, Farrell hadn’t. Pass and chase the pass in support works…try it.

Watch the Kiwi Teams in Super Rugby Pacific, how they make long crisp accurate passes early in the game. They create width and when the forwards are re-engaged, they can use footwork or have space to run into. This may go on for numerous phases until the line is broken or Will Jordan (Crusaders) decides to end it.

Jordan, Smith, and Dupont are already in my World Cup fifteen, 2023.

When Wales started to assert themselves there was a period when England looked vulnerable mentally. The question they may consider is, how do we wrestle back momentum?

You don’t wait for a mistake!
You don’t get the ball and kick it!
You don’t wait for a teammate to do something.

You work collectively, everybody puts in an extra 20% and you run and work with every sinew in your body, until you get the ball back.

Regaining possession is an attitude issue and it is personal, very personal.

A couple of England players froze like rabbits in the headlights, as Wales upped the ante!

Scotland 17 v France 36

Is France a good team or a team that forces mistakes, then reacts?

France has X factor players who can play instinctively, turn defence into attack and score tries.

Their line speed in defence forced Russell to play deeper, with second man plays sometimes twenty meters from the advantage line.

When Moefana scored a try, look at the French players in support, within five meters, excellent.

Are Scotland a team that flatters to deceive again. At this level you can’t play the odd game well then lose two. Darge, Scotland’s 7 will cause the selectors headaches. He looks the complete deal and gets over the ball quickly.

Russell can spray the ball about, but the rugby world knows he doesn’t cope well with targeted pressure.

How do you beat France? You do a Sean Edwards on them!

Increase your line speed. Occasionally leave a little hole for Dupont to run into then strip him of the ball. France is playing with great confidence and spirit. They are fit and you must match their running effort. Hunt them in pairs because they will try and beat the first man, the second man makes the tackle!

With six members of the French squad over 120 Kg’s, quick lineouts, and scrums please.

Ireland 57 v Italy 6

Ireland easily disposed of a young Italian team. The Sword of Damocles hangs worryingly over Italian rugby with the Springboks rumoured to be replacing them in the six nations.

As a spectacle the game was ruined for the spectators as Italy was reduced to 14,13, then 12 men. The sending off quite ludicrous! Prior to that clear evidence that Italy had improved their defensive understanding wide out.

Ireland travel to Twickenham next week. A loss is inconceivable. Italy host Scotland, the only six nations team they have beaten.


Both England and Scotland must win their next two games. Scotland in Rome and Dublin. England in London and Paris (a must-see live game).

Let’s see what the next round produces!

Mike Penistone
Coaching thought. “Is instinctive play decision making?”

About Mike Penistone

Mike has coached at all levels of the game, from under-7's through to elite international players at the highest level, in both the northern and southern hemispheres. A few notable positions include serving as Head Coach for Great Britain Students (Rugby League), Head Coach at Nottingham RUFC and Head of Elite Player Development at Leicester Tigers Academy. Mike also served as the U21's Coach at the NSW Warratahs and Director of Coaching at Eastern Suburbs Sydney. He continues to coach across the globe running his consultancy. Check out his website: here. View all posts by Mike Penistone

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