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Jeremy Guscott's Six Nations Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
Former England and Lions star Guscott is a BBC rugby union pundit

It's advantage Ireland, England and France following an intriguing first weekend of the 2010 Six Nations.

A moment of madness from Alun Wyn Jones enabled England to pile on 17 unanswered points against Wales at Twickenham, while Ireland's title defence began with a less than convincing display against Italy.

Meanwhile, France produced a ferocious display up front as Mathieu Bastareaud twice battered through Scotland's beleaguered defence, the perfect fillip before their momentous clash against Ireland in Paris on Saturday.

If you have a question for BBC Sport rugby union expert Jerry, you can submit it by using the form in the top right-hand corner of the page. He will answer as many as possible early next week, while his answers to this week's questions are below.


Do you think Ireland held a little back against the Italians, thus not showing their full hand ahead of the crucial match in Paris against France? Or should Ireland be concerned they did not click as they would have liked?
Will, Ireland

Overall an entertaining weekend of rugby, but as an Irish supporter I was a bit disappointed in Ireland's performance. Do you think we can really up our game for what I think will be the deciding game of the championship?
Sinead, Ireland

Brian O'Driscoll gives a teamtalk at Croke Park
Ireland have plenty more to offer in this tournament

I think we always have to expect teams to be a little rusty after not playing together for a couple of months, but I would have expected a better performance from Ireland, especially after taking a 10-point lead after 15 minutes. Ireland wouldn't have been thinking about the France match - they would have been focused on beating Italy.

It's a bit early to say whether that game in Paris will be the Six Nations decider, there is a long way to go after next week's games. The Irish have a lot to work on, they will be very aware of how powerful the French scrum was against Scotland and the Irish front row will have their work cut out.

The French looked at ease in every facet of the game and will be very confident. Ireland coach Declan Kidney knows his side can play better - and they will need to to beat France in Paris.

Having seen the power of the French scrum against Scotland, as well as the running skills of their backs, is it France's title to lose?
James, England

France, as it is often the case, are talked about as being favourites for this year's championship. Do you think that Marc Lievremont's selection policy over the last two years (71 different players) will again demonstrate a lack of consistency in the team and that they will fall short again?
Chris Buxton, Belgium

We are always interested to see which French team turns up on the day. Against Scotland, a very powerful, organised, complete team played a controlled game that blew Scotland away. They stuffed Scotland in the scrums and their three-quarter blitz defence kept the Scottish backs penned in with nowhere to go.

They turned up and meant business. But even though Scotland were out-scrummaged and outplayed throughout most of the game, they still created chances that I would have expected Ireland to finish.

Alun Wyn Jones is sin-binned at Twickenham
I don't think Wyn Jones should be dropped

I hope Lievremont doesn't change the team at all apart from any injuries that might have been sustained to players. Although his team are a long way from winning this championship, they are, after week one, the strongest all-round team.

Hello Jeremy. Just a short question that requires an honest answer, NOT one that pacifies the hierarchy of the referees' panel. Did the trip by Alun Wyn Jones deserve a sin-binning or a penalty?
Gary Myles, Wales

Do you think Warren Gatland should make an example of Wyn Jones and drop him for the Scotland game next week?
Mick, Australia

For the record, I have no interest in keeping on the good side of referees or the rugby hierarchy. Yes it did deserve a sin-binning because England were in or around the Welsh 22m line attacking and Wyn Jones denied England further progress in a very good attacking position.

If it had happened in England's own 22, I doubt whether he would have been sin-binned. Let's face it, these kinds of acts happen quite often in games and go unnoticed and unpunished. I think we are better off without these cynical acts of stupidity that spoil our entertainment and frustrates players.

However, I don't think Wyn Jones should be dropped. It's punishment enough that he has to live with what he did.

As a Welshman, I clearly was disappointed with the result against England. However, I think we showed glimpses. If you were coach Warren Gatland, what backline would you select for the next game against Scotland?
Simon, China

Hi Simon, I would replace scrum-half Gareth Cooper with Richie Rees and swap winger Tom James and bring back Leigh Halfpenny. I would look to play more off James Hook, which would mean getting the ball into his hands more often.

Where do Scotland go from here? They have a dearth of talent at fly-half and are very poor in attack. Chris Cusiter, Kelly Brown, Sean Lamont and Johnnie Beattie all did us proud but I can't think of any other player who showed any spark. On top of that, our pack got battered. Have we got any hope?
David Cullen, Scotland

Hi David, Scotland have to work on getting support to players that make breaks. We saw Beattie and Lamont break clean through - but where was the support to progress the attack?

The scrum was what it was and, without Euan Murray, it was never going to be easy. Let's see how the other countries get on against the French pack! Wales are low in confidence and if Scotland can finish off what they start, you should see an improved performance from your boys.

Riki Flutey in action for England in training
Flutey's return will benefit Jonny Wilkinson's attacking instincts

Although it was a good win for England on Saturday, does second half collapse not worry you quite a bit? Also there still seems to be a lack of creativity and cutting edge in the back line.
Andrew Mowll, England

I don't understand why Jonny Wilkinson has to stand so deep as first receiver. It makes it harder for the team to get over the gain-line, losing any momentum and makes the defence's job easier in stopping England. If he doesn't get flatter I find it difficult to see how England will be able to score tries. Is it time Martin Johnson made a change?
Mustafa, England

What England needed more than anything on Saturday was a win. They got it and it was deserved. I'm hoping Riki Flutey will have recovered from injury this week; he is the creativity that England have been missing. Don't have too much of a go at the backs, they need quick ball to be effective.

Jonny Wilkinson was right to take it deep. When Riki Flutey is back he will force Wilkinson to stand flatter. Jonny needs to remain in the side because his kicking is so impeccable, it keeps the scoreboard ticking over nicely.

With James Haskell finally showing some real threat to go with his undoubted physical attributes, what do you see as the best make up of England's back row once everyone is fit? For me, Tom Croft has to be included and Lewis Moody is in the form of his life, so would you drop Nick Easter for Haskell or have a totally different three in the back-row?
Dan Russon, UK

Hi Dan, I would keep the back three as they are. Easter had one of his best games for England and if he and Danny Care can be a bit slicker from the base of the scrum, it will improve the ball for the backs. Croft will have to come back and show the kind of form he showed for the Lions to stand a chance of getting involved.

The French will have to watch their blitz defence against Ireland, it will not take the likes of Ronan O'Gara, Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney to work out a way inside or outside that defence

Why did England kick away so much possession, especially since the Welsh line-out was not functioning? Why do so many teams not retain possession and aimlessly kick the ball, inevitably straight to the opposition winger or full-back - it really makes for tedious watching!
Mark, UK

Hi Mark, kicking aimlessly has become a big part of the game these days and until a coach changes the game plan, we will continue to see it. England tried to shut the game down by kicking on Saturday but they didn't put the ball into touch which they needed to do as the Welsh line-out was all over the place.

Against Ireland, we saw an Italy performance devoid of any ambition whatsoever. How do they intend to improve and become a successful force in international rugby if they refuse to move the ball more than two passes beyond the breakdown?
Matto Rose, UK

Matto, it all takes time. We have to be patient with Italy, with the resources and player base they have at their disposal we can't expect miracles. I, like you, would like them to play a more attacking game rather than a damage limitation job.

Who do you think is in the best position to seize the lead of the Six Nations after the first round of matches?
Mike, UK

Mathieu Bastareaud in action against Scotland
Mathieu Bastareaud is an imposing figure in France's midfield

Hi Mike, France look the strongest all-round side after the first round games. The French forwards ran hard looking to get over the gainline and pass out of tackles to put players into space to continue the attack.

The French backs where always looking to run at the Scots and really took the game to them. The French will have to watch their blitz defence against Ireland, it will not take the likes of Ronan O'Gara, Brian O'Driscoll, Tommy Bowe and Rob Kearney long to work out a way inside or outside that defence.

Ireland will improve and have the habit of winning; England will be confident and can expect to beat Italy while Wales and Scotland will be desperate for a win, so expect an enthralling game in Cardiff on Saturday.

Living in Thailand I get to see a lot of the Tri-Nations tournament. Having seen the first round of the Six Nations it just seems to me that these two competitions operate on a very different level of intensity and competition. Would you agree that this is exacerbating the divide between northern and southern hemisphere rugby?
James Roberts, Thailand

James, I love the Six Nations tournament, it's five rounds of intense rivalry that cannot be replicated in the Tri-Nations. The rugby at times during the Six Nations might not be of the quality we would like, but the emotion and tension sometimes overrides the quality of performance. I cannot wait for the next round, particularly France v Ireland - what a game that is going to be!

Jerry, do you think the breakdown rules should be changed back? The ruck area is a mess and as you can see, players are afraid to run the ball and instead kick. Although I am enjoying this year's Six Nations, imagine how much more exciting it would be if the International Rugby Board changed the rules back.
Glenn, Wales

Glen, I would love to see rucking brought back into the game. I think we would see less killing of the ball at ruck time and we would see a lot more ball released quickly to the backs.

What are your thoughts on the Six Nations adopting the bonus-point format? Two of the opening weekend's matches were foregone conclusions and the carrot of a bonus point for four tries could have motivated Ireland and France to continue to play positive and exciting rugby.
Mark, Ireland

Hi Mark, I'm happy as it is. The points difference sorts it all out. Wales might have finished second in the championship if they put a full-strength team out against Italy last season!



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see also
Scotland 9-18 France
07 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
England 30-17 Wales
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 29-11 Italy
06 Feb 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
26 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
19 Jan 10 |  Rugby Union
Rugby union on the BBC
05 Feb 09 |  Rugby Union


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