Rugby Union - Six Nations

TheLocalYokel

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I thought we had a thread for the Six Nations but it seems not, so I've started one.

Congratulations to England on winning the 2020 Six Nations, a competition that began nine months ago and has only just been completed, thanks to the pandemic.

England beat Italy earlier today and in so doing scored a vital bonus point try. With Ireland losing to France this evening the title goes to England. I thought it a reasonably competent English performance in the end but certainly not an outstanding one against the seemingly perpetual strugglers.

Italy's only try was scored by Bristolian Jake Polledri who plays for Gloucester. Jake's father, Pete Polledri, a back row forward played nearly 500 times for Bristol. One of Pete's parents was Welsh and the other Italian although Pete, like Jake, was born in Bristol so it seems that Jake qualifies for Italy through one of his grandparents.
 

Jerry

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Congratulations to England! It's definitely a year for the history books. Also should congratulate Scotland for winning in Wales for the first time in 14 years i believe they won 14-10 in Llanelli. Wayne Pivac hasn't had a good start as Wales coach!
 

JENNYJET

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I have read today that Sir Bobby Charlton has been diagnosed with Dementia, this so soon after the passing of his brother Jack. Now, is this age related( he is 83 years ) or perhaps because of injuries received following the plane crash at Munich or by heading footballs as was determined with Jeff Astle?

My thoughts are with him and the Charlton family.
 

TheLocalYokel

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2021 Six Nations


The competition might be delayed in order to be played when fans are allowed back into the grounds.

Wales, for example, have home games against England and Ireland and could lose more than £13.5 million if next year's matches have to be played without spectators. I read elsewhere that the loss of revenue from the Autumn internationals that are soon to begin will cost the WRU another £21 million. The WRU CEO is hoping for UK government financial support for sporting organisations and accepts that moving the competition is one thing but to when would you move it?

Putting the start back until March would not guarantee spectators being allowed in and the next window appears to be the autumn when southern hemisphere countries traditionally visit the northern hemisphere for matches.

It seems to be an intractable situation with probably the best hope lying with the UK government. As I see it, there is no obvious timescale to when fans will be permitted to return to watch matches, not capacity crowds anyway - perhaps a few thousand to begin with and even the timescale for that is uncertain.
 

JENNYJET

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Perhaps the problem of finding a date lies with the rescheduled Olympic Games and the following Commonwealth Games and if any vaccines are passed for use with the necessary monitoring. Social distancing and humans don't knit well and in the great stadia almost impossible.

Discuss!
 

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Perhaps the problem of finding a date lies with the rescheduled Olympic Games and the following Commonwealth Games and if any vaccines are passed for use with the necessary monitoring. Social distancing and humans don't knit well and in the great stadia almost impossible.

Discuss!
The club scene has a bearing. Players are contracted to clubs and international matches fall within defined and agreed periods, as they do with football. The top European club leagues go on until June in some cases next year, plus the European club cup competitions, then there is the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in July and August. It's an incredibly crowded calendar with, for example, the English Premiership 2020-2021 season beginning at the end of this month after only a month's break from the end of the delayed 2019-2020 season.

Jerry is our rugby union expert and I am sure he will confirm that, such is the nature of the physicality of the game at top club and international level, that it's impossible for players to play matches week after week month after month without a break. When the English Premiership resumed at the end of the summer this year most weeks saw teams playing twice a week and many were also in the European cup competitions. This meant that every club had to prioritise matches and in some games put out what was in effect a reserve XV. It's not a satisfactory way to preserve the integrity of top level club rugby competitions, but there was no alternative. Some clubs were also affected with players becoming infected with the coronavirus.
 

Jerry

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There has always been talk of the Six Nations potentially moving to an April May slot, with the Lions (if it goes ahead) now in July with a home game on the 26th June that would leave the first weeks of June available for domestic finals but it is a brutal schedule. The problem is 2021 is a British and Irish Lions year and with revenue down for the unions they'll want as much revenue as possible, they could switch the tour to 2022 but then that causes problems for what other series are in the pipeline.
The club scene has a bearing. Players are contracted to clubs and international matches fall within defined and agreed periods, as they do with football. The top European club leagues go on until June in some cases next year, plus the European club cup competitions, then there is the British and Irish Lions tour to South Africa in July and August. It's an incredibly crowded calendar with, for example, the English Premiership 2020-2021 season beginning at the end of this month after only a month's break from the end of the delayed 2019-2020 season.
The difference between rugby and football is that there are player release agreements in place between unions and clubs not just for games but for training camps as well and the unions compensate the clubs for player release and in the case of the IRFU actually employ the players themselves because they own the teams.
 

TheLocalYokel

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There has always been talk of the Six Nations potentially moving to an April May slot, with the Lions (if it goes ahead) now in July with a home game on the 26th June that would leave the first weeks of June available for domestic finals but it is a brutal schedule. The problem is 2021 is a British and Irish Lions year and with revenue down for the unions they'll want as much revenue as possible, they could switch the tour to 2022 but then that causes problems for what other series are in the pipeline.

The difference between rugby and football is that there are player release agreements in place between unions and clubs not just for games but for training camps as well and the unions compensate the clubs for player release and in the case of the IRFU actually employ the players themselves because they own the teams.
Thank you for that, Jerry.

I believe that the WRU owns half of Dragons but has no financial interest in the other three regional sides? No conflict of interest?

I also read that because they have no regional side per se, some rugby supporters in the Valleys find it difficult to get behind 'their' regional side, say Cardiff Blues where Cardiff RFC has been a traditional rival of the Valleys' club sides. I made a similar point about the new Hundred cricket competition where Somerset and Gloucestershire supporters are told that their team is Welsh Fire, based in Cardiff at the home of Glamorgan CCC a fierce rival of Somerset and Glos.

I understand that the regional sides in Wales were formed to improve the quality of the Welsh national side and that the arrangement has been fairly successful. That doesn't happen in football where the Premier League teams are only concerned about their own success, and anyway the financial rewards in top club football are infinitely higher than in the national side, whether for clubs or players.
 

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I hadn't realised it until I read a report today that the infection outbreak in the French rugby squad that has led to the postponement of the Scotland v France match this weekend began after the French coach left the secure bubble at the beginning of the tournament. He became infected first.

The French rugby authorities are standing by him with not even a reprimand as a minimum action. It means that when the Scotland/France match is eventually played it's likely that Scotland will be under strength because they won't have access to players with clubs outside Scotland.

Given that the European club rugby cup competitions had to stop when the French government refused to allow clubs from abroad into the country and are to be resumed under farcical conditions with teams qualifying for the next section from a partially-completed first part of the competitions, natural justice should surely dictate that France forfeit the match against Scotland.
 

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A law into themselves the French,
Pity since they produce great wines. And football players!
It seems that the the France v Scotland game might be played at the end of the month outside the international window. This means that Scotland could be without up to ten players from English and French clubs in the delayed match although I read today that the English Premiership clubs involved might make them available.

I believe that Exeter for example could be without two of their players, all to accommodate France. If the English clubs voluntarily release players for the match will the French clubs? If not why should the English clubs and in the circumstances why should Scotland have to play the match at all given the postponement was not of their making?
 

JENNYJET

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I think the IRB rule upon whether the match is played under tournament rules or be sanctioned as an international game or a friendly. One nation to create such problems cannot be permitted!
 

TheLocalYokel

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I think the IRB rule upon whether the match is played under tournament rules or be sanctioned as an international game or a friendly. One nation to create such problems cannot be permitted!
Because the delayed match is likely to be played outside the international window English and French teams are not obliged to release players for Scotland.

It's an unsatisfactory situation generally with player releases for Six Nations matches. On rest weekends England's players don't return to their English Premiership clubs because the English RFU pays the Premiership clubs an additional sum for access to their players during rest weekends. However, the Welsh Rugby Union loses its English-based players during rest weekends because they don't pay the Premiership clubs additional money for access at those times.

Last month six Welsh players returned to play for their English Premiership clubs during a rest weekend.

 

Jerry

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England's loss to Ireland today is the first time they've done a reverse Triple Crown and lost to Scotland Wales and Ireland since 1976. Pretty big swing from World Cup finalists and Six Nations winners in 2019 and 2020 to this season. Really good victory for Ireland. With Scotland battering Italy maybe the tournament will start to look at promotion and relegation to give the likes of Georgia, Romania and Spain the chance of getting to play in the Six nations.
 

TheLocalYokel

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England's loss to Ireland today is the first time they've done a reverse Triple Crown and lost to Scotland Wales and Ireland since 1976. Pretty big swing from World Cup finalists and Six Nations winners in 2019 and 2020 to this season. Really good victory for Ireland. With Scotland battering Italy maybe the tournament will start to look at promotion and relegation to give the likes of Georgia, Romania and Spain the chance of getting to play in the Six nations.
I thought the same thing myself again today after yet another big Italy defeat. They really should not be given an automatic place. After all, England beat them this year so who could Italy beat?

As for England, with the mass of players available to them they should be doing much better. Even when Ireland was down to 14 men following the red card the hosts still managed another six points and England only scored their final try when Ireland had only 13 men on the pitch following a yellow card.

Is the situation in England's Premiership becoming like football with relatively few players in the Premier League that are England qualified? This situation should improve with EU right of employment no longer automatic though. There are a lot of important players in rugby Premiership clubs who are not England qualified.

Incidentally, one of my pet hates occurred yet again today in the Ireland-England game with penalties taking an age before being kicked. I would give them no more than 30 seconds from the time they place the ball until they kick it and that is generous. Why do kickers spend 20 seconds or more at the beginning of their run-up taking deep breaths? It never used to happen a generation or two ago. A lot of it is time-wasting gamesmanship because when a team needs to get on with it they can take penalties or conversions very quickly as was evidenced with England's last try when Daly picked up the ball and in one movement drop-kicked the conversion from wide out.
 

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Is the situation in England's Premiership becoming like football with relatively few players in the Premier League that are England qualified?
England's Premiership doesn't have the same problem as the Premier League in non England qualified players, the clubs get rewarded for having English qualified players and Wales U20s had problems with English based players pulling out when they played France U20s as it would've meant that they'd not be counted as English qualified and the clubs would loose money from the RFU.
I thought the same thing myself again today after yet another big Italy defeat. They really should not be given an automatic place. After all, England beat them this year so who could Italy beat?
I think it would help rugby in Europe in general. A lot of people state that teams like Georgia would get beaten badly but Italy are as well so there'll not be much difference there. I believe Scotland are due to play Spain in the summer so it'll be interesting to see how Spain do.
Why do kickers spend 20 seconds or more at the beginning of their run-up taking deep breaths?
A lot of kicking technique is now about visualising where the ball is going to go but also i suspect a lot of it is about running down the clock and giving your team a breather.
 

TheLocalYokel

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England's Premiership doesn't have the same problem as the Premier League in non England qualified players, the clubs get rewarded for having English qualified players and Wales U20s had problems with English based players pulling out when they played France U20s as it would've meant that they'd not be counted as English qualified and the clubs would loose money from the RFU.
I take it you mean English-based players who had not previously appeared for Wales at any level. Interesting that Callum Sheedy played for England against a Barbarians side but that didn't count as a full international so he was able to play for Wales afterwards, to which country he has now obviously committed himself. He's Cardiff-born so no real surprise about his decision.

Bristol Bears have the Lloyd brothers, Ioan who has already been around the Welsh senior squad, and his brother Jac who recently signed pro terms for the club's senior academy squad. The connection is that both brothers have been at Clifton College.

Both play at fly-half (are the terms outside-half and standoff-half now obsolete?) as does Sheedy, so if all three progress as is hoped Bristol and Wales will have a surfeit of fly-halves. Ioan has put in some excellent Bristol Bears performances in the Prem on the wing and at full-back, also taking on the place kicking duties at times when Sheedy has been absent.

Pat Lam, the Bears coach, said when he took up the job that one of his intentions was to produce young England-qualified players. He has three young talented Wales-qualified players with this trio so presumably will lose them at some point as they further or seek to begin their Welsh international careers because of the WRU selection requirements.


A lot of kicking technique is now about visualising where the ball is going to go but also i suspect a lot of it is about running down the clock and giving your team a breather.

The kickers seem to be following the Wilkinson style, zoning in and self hypnotism, the telly guys love it as the delay encourages more studio waffle!
As I said in my previous post, when teams need to crack on with things because they are behind with not much time left, it's amazing how the visualising, self-hypnosis or whatever fancy name is given to it goes our of the window. Then they put the ball down, step back and kick within a few seconds. Daly didn't even bother to spot the ball with England's final conversion yesterday. He merely picked it up and dropped-kicked the conversion in a near continuous action from quite a way out towards the touchline.
 

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Pat Lam, the Bears coach, said when he took up the job that one of his intentions was to produce young England-qualified players. He has three young talented Wales-qualified players with this trio so presumably will lose them at some point as they further or seek to begin their Welsh international careers because of the WRU selection requirements.
Quite a few Welsh qualified players have been brought through the English system especially the West Country clubs because of their affiliation with many good schools like Hartpury and Millfield. These schools actively scout Welsh talent to recruit them and i know Cardiff Blues have started getting their academy players to sign a kind of first refusal contracts/understandings for when or if these players return to Wales to play pro rugby. If Welsh rugby can get these players back which has happened with Josh Adams and fingers crossed will happen with players like Callum Sheedy and Rhys Zammit then players learning their trade over the water might not be so bad for Welsh rugby!
As I said in my previous post, when teams need to crack on with things because they are behind with not much time left, it's amazing how the visualising, self-hypnosis or whatever fancy name is given to it goes our of the window. Then they put the ball down, step back and kick within a few seconds. Daly didn't even bother to spot the ball with England's final conversion yesterday. He merely picked it up and dropped-kicked the conversion in a near continuous action from quite a way out towards the touchline.
Yep when they want to they can take it quickly! In 7s they have to drop goal it so the game isn't slowed down.
 
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