The damn screenshot image circulated on Saturday night showed England with six men leaning on just two defenders, but no try came out. They didn’t come any closer.
Of all the sequences that summed up the home team’s disastrous performance against Scotland’s heroic historians, the 44th-minute Twickenham struck.
Owen Farrell received the ball near the center line and England had a huge lead over the round on the left. But the captain stepped. Once again. A wonderful opportunity has been missed.
England were beaten by Scotland in their 6-11 loss to Six Nations on Saturday
Owen Farrell couldn’t inspire his team to win Scotland’s first win in England in 38 years
The lack of English possessions was so great that there were few openings. But the one after half time was inexcusably wasted. Even if you make a living on junk, these are the times a top notch No. 10 has to deliver. That’s the core of the job.
After his team abandoned the Calcutta Cup again, Eddie Jones argued that the game was lost in the first place and that this is largely true. The head coach downplayed Farrell’s direct responsibility for a staggeringly inadequate collective effort, but his main task invites scrutiny.
England cannot have untouchables, but Farrell has long since become. Even the captain, skilled and decorated as he is, must continue to justify his place with the authority of his form, but he will be judged differently.
When George Ford was being prepared for a cameo from the bench – which came too late for a proper effect – he should have replaced his friend, but of course Ollie Lawrence was sacrificed after barely seeing the ball, let alone running with it .
Captain Farrell has become inviolable in an English jersey when it isn’t
For Jones this problem is a blind spot. He’s proven in the past to be a ruthless selector before and during games, but Farrell will always be trusted to keep playing even if he misfires. Any criticism of the Saracens is treated as synonymous with heresy or betrayal, or dismissed as madness.
Outside the Red Rose Bubble, so many fair watchers lament the inability to unleash a team of many talent. On Saturday night, social media went up in flames with condemnation of what is considered a robotic approach symbolized by Farrell’s personal contribution.
There is no media agenda or a witch hunt, instead there is anger among experts and the public that England, at least in attack, does not make up the sum of its parts.
How about a makeover for the Italy game? It won’t happen, especially if there are loud calls for urgent changes, but get Ford back at 10 and let Itoje take over the captaincy.
Whenever one of the playmakers has to give way it is always Ford and it is telling that he is smaller than Farrell as physicality is the ultimate trump card for the English selection. But Ford has a more instinctive knack for running the show, albeit within the confines of an often tight schedule.
England will have to leave the shock defeat behind if they want to pick up the Six Nations this year
Ford had the better World Cup campaign, but the lasting image was Farrell’s staring at the haka before England dwarfed New Zealand so that its hit-and-miss performances were swept away.
It is approaching a test century. He has tons of medals from the club and international rugby. He is a lion and a formidable, respected figure. None of what he has achieved happens by chance. But no one should be legally selected – not even rugby kings.
He didn’t pull the defense apart with the wave of a wand. He is known for his defense, but there have been tons of missed tackles – and dangerous ones. The loss to Scotland also showed how he antagonized referees. There were constant complaints with Andrew Brace, who was forced to give several lectures.
Farrell isn’t the only English player still here based on reputation rather than recent evidence. Billy Vunipola is another who failed to reach the high points of the early period of Jones’s tenure when his rampage provided valuable stimulus. He was a mainstay of a fall defensive championship against Ireland, but there was little evidence that the # 8 giant was the best vintage.
Eddie Jones could change course for the Italy game with George Ford (center)
Exeter’s Simmonds brothers – Sam and Joe – continue to stand out for their club and would be in Form XV of many people, but they’re not on Jones’ radar.
The same applies to Alex Dombrandt and several others who are currently illuminating the domestic game. At least Harry Randall and Paolo Odogwu have proven that there can be a way, but the next step is to give them a game, ideally against Italy.
England is so excited about their search for sheer intensity and ferocity that they forgot to open up and play.
There were some fleeting flashes of Henry Slade, but no chance for Lawrence or Anthony Watson to break up while Jonny May had a day off and Elliot Daly continues to see a shadow of the brilliant, groundbreaking runner who excelled with the Lions in Year 2017.
No doubt England will dismantle the Italians, but that cannot allow cracks to be papered over.
Billy Vunipola was another player who failed to live up to the hype against Scotland
The English investigation was not intended to detract from the majesty of the Scottish victory. Gregor Townsend’s team was extremely dominant in all areas.
Towering Jonny Gray, diehard Hamish Watson, and electric skipper Stuart Hogg were superb, as were debutants George Turner and Cameron Redpath. The Redpath Bathing Center was lost to England, showing that there is a place for midfield art, not just physicality.
Scotland’s defense, superbly trained by Welshman Steve Tandy, stifled any hint of a revival for England. In all honesty, the visitors deserved to win at 20 – they were so much better in all areas.
They can beat Wales at home if they reach those highs again, then go to Paris and face dangerous underdogs against new title favorites France.
But first they deserve to enjoy a special achievement. On the 150th birthday of rugby’s oldest rivalry, Scotland had a party and England didn’t show up.
During Saturday night’s shock win at Twickenham, Scotland was extremely dominant in all areas