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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Danny Care at the scrum
Guscott was unimpressed by Care's tactics in Perth

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is on hand to answer your questions as the Home Nations embark on their tours of the southern hemisphere.

Some of the major stories this week are:

- England's performance in the 27-17 defeat by Australia

- Ireland's 68-28 battering at the hands of New Zealand

- Scotland ensuring one victory for the northern hemisphere as they win 24-16 away to Argentina

- Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip being handed a five-week ban for kneeing All Blacks captain Richie McCaw

If you have any questions for Jerry, please use the postform on this page. He will answer as many as possible this week, but unfortunately not every question submitted can be used.


Hi Jeremy,

There were serious flaws in England's loss to Australia. Kicking was a real let-down and the chase was never effective.

Tactical kicks went too far and allowed easy counters back into the England half.

How can you play a forwards game from your own half? The forwards are taking ball at a standstill and first-time tackling was a problem. Can you really see them competing with Australia in the second match on Saturday?
John, England

Hi Jeremy, after England's disappointing defeat by Australia and draw with the Australian Barbarians, what can they do to improve? The only thing which has looked half-decent is the scrums.
Alex, England

John and Alex, I can see England competing next week because I believe they can't play that badly again. England should still have the dominance in the scrum and that will play on the Aussies' minds.

My biggest worry for England is that there was little fluidity, tempo or pattern to their game

Knowing you're going to get stuffed in the scrum will have a big psychological effect on the team. If England chase their kicks with numbers and aggression and make their first-up tackles they will compete.

My biggest worry for England is that there was little fluidity, tempo or pattern to their game. Shontayne Hape and Mike Tindall were not used as they should have been, battering into the Aussie guts, giving the forwards a target to work some phases.

Scrum-half Danny Care takes far too long to get the ball away from the breakdown, preferring instead to get a couple of static forwards to stand two yards away and pass them the ball so that the Aussies can move up to gang tackle slow-moving forwards - mindless!

I was very impressed by England's scrum given that we were without Steve Borthwick, Andrew Sheridan and Phil Vickery. But with Quade Cooper's running and vision would it be worth playing Wilkinson at fly-half to try to contain him?
Phil Wilson, England

Phil, JW isn't the answer. If he still tackled as he used to, that might be a possibility. But I'm afraid to inform you that Quade Cooper would turn the current JW inside out.

Do you look back at your Bath days and remember a mobile yet solid pack, a roaming back-row, decisive running three-quarters and a scrum-half who could get the ball away from the forwards quickly? Would you tell Martin Johnson that "thud and blunder" was passé before you started to play junior rugby.
Chris Rowland, England

Chris, there's a lot of things I would like to say to MJ but I'm not sure if he would want to listen! England have gone backwards since that strong showing against France in the last game of the Six Nations and that's really unacceptable. The team has been together for long enough to be able to pick up somewhere near where they left off and not be on a different planet!

What I really struggle to come to terms with when watching England is how they look as though they haven't got a clue about what they are doing, that's simply embarrassing for all concerned.

Jonny Wilkinson
Should Wilkinson be moved to play at centre?

Jeremy, as a centre yourself, who do you think should play in the centres for England? I was surprised by Hape's selection due to him losing his place in the Bath XV towards the end of the year, but am not enthused by Olly Barkley much either. A fit Rikki Flutey perhaps, or Jonny Wilkinson?
Hugo, Ireland

Hugo, I would have to pick Olly Barkley and Mike Tindall, one creative and one direct. I believe England have played their best rugby with a more creative 12, a Will Greenwood or Rikki Flutey, and Barkley showed he had that creativity with Bath this season.

Surely, with Ireland taking a colossal battering on New Zealand soil, Wales will look at New Zealand's performance (even against a 14-man Ireland) and have some doubts about winning when they travel there on tour.
Tom Grey, UK

Tom, all international teams analyse each other to death and Wales will know exactly what to expect when they run on the pitch this Saturday. New Zealand kick a lot of ball inside their own half unless they get a turnover and then it's handled quickly into space.

606: DEBATE
Sigma Omega Alpha

Technically they are reasonable scrummagers and their line-out functions fairly well. NZ will play the game at pace and attempt to physically intimidate Wales in all contact, especially at the breakdown.

Wales like to play a looser game than most Northern Hemisphere teams but NZ play at a level that becomes uncomfortable for most NH teams. For Wales to get close to NZ their line-out will need to improve and they can't turn over ball. They must take any and every opportunity to score and then they might keep the result close.

Jerry, what do you think the contributory factors are behind the selection of Andy Saull, James Simpson-Daniel and Alex Goode in the England Saxons party? They are going on what is essentially a third-team tour while England are scratching around for world-class performers? Granted, Saull and Goode lack experience, but for me current selection policy for England gives little reflection of the talent shining in our domestic league.
Jeremy Edwards, England

Heaslip could have caused Richie McCaw considerable pain in a legal way but he let his frustration get the better of him

Jeremy, I've said many times that selection is so subjective and when a team isn't performing - as England haven't over several seasons - those that support them have varying ideas of who should and who shouldn't be in the team.

When a team is playing well we would all be selecting a very similar team. There's no doubt that Saracens were one of three in-form teams at the back-end of the Guinness Premiership season. Players like Saull, Goode and Bradley Barritt can feel a bit aggrieved they didn't make the Australia tour but they will get their chance if they continue to perform.

Jeremy, when Ireland coach Declan Kidney selects either Ronan O'Gara or Jonathan Sexton at fly-half he picks the other on the bench. This makes little sense to me as both of them cover only one position - would Paddy Wallace not be a better option for the bench regardless of whether Jonathan or Ronan start the match.
Teddy, Ireland

Declan Kidney
Is Kidney making the correct choices on the bench?

Teddy, in my opinion Paddy Wallace has been given a few starts over the last couple of seasons and really hasn't taken his opportunities, he's not had that much luck. The Irish bench looks to cover most positions with players like Tommy Bowe and Geordan Murphy and I think Sexton could play inside centre or full-back as well.

Dear Jeremy,

After considering Scotland's very unlucky, yet promising, Six Nations and a very encouraging display against Argentina, would you think perhaps if a Lions Tour was this year, then a lot more Scots would be going on it? Especially with the likes of Dan Parks, Alistair Kellock and the Killer Bs finding form.
Frederick, Scotland

Frederick, if the Lions were touring this year there would be just cause to include the players you mention.

Do you think that with Jamie Heaslip (not known as a dirty player) taking the law into his own hands, some of the blame must be put on the IRB and refs for not being harsh enough on the cheaters of the game. If refs are going to allow players off their feet to continually kill the game, then players must surely react with their own retribution.
Taff Martin, England

Taff, it's rare a ref has an absolute shocker and Wayne Barnes was right to send off Heaslip. As for your thoughts on players exacting their own retribution I think you're wrong.

Heaslip could have caused Richie McCaw considerable pain in a legal way but he let his frustration get the better of him. I believe most international refs do a great job but the players like McCaw, David Pocock and Schalk Burger are clever operators.

And finally…

A personal/historical question this: we saw in an international years ago, Rory Underwood scoring a try with you backing him up; he was going flat out, you seemed to be coasting and telling him where to touch down. Were you as fast as him, and could you have played on the wing?
Christopher Edwards, England

Hi Christopher. I was pretty much flat out alongside Rory. I had a more relaxed running style that gave the impression I wasn't trying.

Rory was quick, I think I might have been a tad quicker up to 40 metres but Rory would certainly be quicker from there. As for playing on the wing, I played there a couple of times but didn't really enjoy it.




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see also
Heaslip gets five-week suspension
13 Jun 10 |  Irish
Angry Johnson criticises players
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Argentina 16-24 Scotland
12 Jun 10 |  Scottish
New Zealand 66-28 Ireland
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Aplon shines as Boks beat France
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Australia 27-17 England
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
International rugby as it happened
12 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Attoub's eye-gouging ban reduced
11 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
01 Jun 10 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott Q&A
25 May 10 |  Rugby Union


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