Yesterday’s Six Nations thriller , narrowly won by France in the closing minutes, will go down as an all-time great. No need to rehearse the details, Tom Fordyce’s match report for the BBC does very nicely.
I am really pleased to have an England Coach in Stuart Lancaster who is prepared to take risks, encourage invention and does not seem to have been caught up in the hype surrounding the RFU. His pre and post match comments were excellent.
This is a disappointment for England but a relief for rugby. The turgid “win at all costs” rugby we have witnessed since that long distant world cup triumph in 2003 seems now behind us and we look to compete with the Southern Hemisphere in terms of style and invention. That we were mugged by a French team themselves long on flare, is a minor setback, but that’s sport. Unless of course you are trophy hunting.
Praise to the ref, Nigel Owens. His common sense approach allowed the game to flow and saved it from the usual round of sin-binnings and sendings off which make a mockery of 15 a side. The scrum seemed relatively sane and there was humour from the ref-mike that got the missus applauding.
Six Nations rugby needs games like this to keep us in 80,000 sell-out crowds. While the laws of supply and demand will keep the turnstiles ticking for a time, there will come a point where normal fans will recognise they get better fare for a fraction of the price by watching league games. Unless , that is, we can continue to serve up the odd spectacular like yesterday’s (and the Wales v Italy game wasn’t bad either).
One of the best things about rugby is the way it has got to grips with the male bias and started marketing itself properly to women. Yesterday, I was told to shut up by Jennie Kresser and Fiona Tait on Twitter as I was letting pensions get in the way of the enjoyment of the build up to the games. Fair play, I’ve got no objection to rugby as girl porn and I’d sooner be talking Gael Fikou than Strictly come Dancing (despite the latter being the gateway to the former).
In conclusion, England losing to anyone is good for the game, we are arrogant ninnies who richly deserve reversals. We are the Leeds Utd. of rugby, living on former glories. Ffve nations are smirking at our discomfort – thankfully the sixth has an English sense of humour!
The bigotry and xenophobia that you find reading the Telegraph and BBC comments boards after the game (all male) shows that old habits die hard.
But thankfully we are seeing a new approach for new fans and hopefully that will herald a little less braying from the blazer brigade at RFU HQ and a return to the grass roots of the game, from which Lancaster came and for which he fights so hard.