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Jeremy Guscott Q&A

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

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is back to answer your questions.

Following the opening weekend of autumn internationals, Jerry discusses:

- England's performance in their defeat by the All Blacks

- New Zealand's chances of winning the World Cup

- Whether Warren Gatland should pick Sam Warburton ahead of Martyn Williams

- Which position receives the most yellow cards

Hi Jeremy, what do you make of an England performance that I felt was full of things for us to be optimistic about for the future?
Baz, England

Mike Tindall of England

Highlights - England 16-26 New Zealand

Baz, I thought England carried on from where they left off against Australia in the summer and were very positive. They lacked composure when attacking in the final third and lost some crucial line-outs. I believe they should employ more strike moves from set-piece, utilising Shontayne Hape to suck defenders in then releasing Chris Ashton and Ben Foden who looked very sharp.

I'm not of the opinion that New Zealand played badly, I believe England played well enough to make them look average. Hape's try attempt should have been turned into a penalty try which would have been converted, putting England three points adrift with five minutes to go. England could have won the game from that position.

Jeremy, Mike Tindall had one of the poorest games I've ever seen from an international centre, defending far too narrow down his channel, being exposed several times for his non-existent pace and looking like a real liability every time New Zealand started putting it through the hands. In attack he added nothing, butchered a two on one when he should have put Lewis Moody in, and for the Shontayne Hape chance was one of two or three guilty of not fixing their man before passing and thus losing the overlap. A man of his experience should not be making such painfully basic errors, and it seems that it is experience and experience alone that is keeping him in the team. What are your views, and is there anyone at the moment who could replace him - Delon Armitage perhaps?
Tom, England

Hi Tom, I agree the England midfield defence at times was woeful but Tindall alone is not to blame. I don't think Tindall's performance warrants being dropped but he will be aware that a similar performance will put his place in doubt.

Hi Jerry. With all the home nations suffering defeat in the first round of the autumn internationals, do you think the gap between the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere teams is too wide to bridge before the World Cup, or do you get the sense that there were a lot of positives coming out of the games to show that the home nations are slowly but surely building good momentum to be able to put up a real challenge at the World Cup?
Alan, Wales

James Hook of Wales

Highlights - Wales 16-25 Australia

Hi Alan, England could have won their game, Ireland also, so I don't think northern hemisphere teams are too far behind. Wales looked well beaten but have a lot of injuries and we have to wait to see how Scotland get on this weekend. After week one of the autumn internationals Australia look good to go unbeaten, as do New Zealand. South Africa, even with a lot of first-choice players injured, looked very good up front and will give England, Wales and Scotland a good run for their money.

Jeremy, following the results over the past few weekends, do you think this is the annual decline of the All Backs prior to a World Cup year? They are usually the best team for three of the four years between World Cups
Matthew Collins, Jersey

Hi Matthew, I wouldn't write off NZ just yet, they beat England away from home by 10 points and only just lost to the Wallabies. If Stephen Donald had kicked the ball out against the Aussies when he had the chance then the All Blacks would have probably won that game.

NZ look a very accomplished team, they play a well-constructed game and are very fit. The World Cup is still a year away and although NZ are still favourites with Australia just behind, I don't think these two teams are that far ahead that the likes of South Africa, Ireland, France and even England can't beat them on a given day during the World Cup.

Hi Jeremy, will Martin Johnson be (or should he be) happy with England's performance against the All Blacks or will he be of the opinion that England should have won the game and anything less is a disappointment?
Dan Brownbridge, England

Hi Dan, I think behind closed doors Martin Johnson will be seething because England had the chances to beat New Zealand but let them go, and it's not very often you get that opportunity. Generally, though, I believe he will be pleased England pushed the All Blacks close and will be looking for improvement in the remaining games.

Do you think the quick ball England are now getting is down to Johnson coaching forwards in the "dark arts" around the contact area or just down to the team gelling because of consistency in selection?
Andrew Wordsworth, England

Andrew, to be honest there are no dark arts required to get quick ball, just forwards clearing and a scrum-half close to pass the ball out. I think the English forwards worked very hard to get that ball, they just need to be a bit smarter in the opposition's 22. England's ball carriers have a tendency to get slightly isolated, allowing the opposition to get the player down and compete for the ball, generally turning it over. If England sort out this area of their game they will score more tries.

Hi Jeremy, Do you think Wales have finally found our successor to Martyn Williams at open-side flanker in the shape of Sam Warburton?
Matthew Jones, Wales

Hi Matthew, Warburton certainly played well and carried on where he left off for Wales last season. When Martyn Williams came on he played well. Warren Gatland will enjoy trying to make the right choice at open-side but I think most would say that Warburton is first choice.

If Lee Byrne isn't fit for Saturday's game against South Africa would you keep James Hookat full-back or would you move him to the centre to add a bit more creativity? I would also like to know if you think that Richie Rees should start the game after his impressive performance off the bench against Australia.
Joel, Wales

Hi Joel, I really hope for Wales that Byrne is fit to allow Hook back into the midfield. If he's not, I would select Chris Czekaj at 15.

David Pocock scores a try
Pocock scored Australia's first try in their win over Wales

Hi Jeremy, after watching David Pocock's outstanding performances for Australia in the Tri-Nations, then in Hong Kong against the All Blacks and again at the weekend against Wales, would you rate him as the best number seven in world rugby at the moment, even ahead of Ritchie McCaw? He is turning over so many balls and really won the battle against McCaw last week and against Wales showed he can score tries also.
Declan Rynne

Hi Declan, on current form it would be difficult to argue that Pocock isn't the number one open-side in world rugby right now. I remember everyone raving about him last season and he has managed to kick on and improve his game further.

Australia's scrum was penalised time after time against Wales but no yellow card was shown. Surely any other offence repeated so many times would have received a yellow?

Some might argue that the Aussie front row were suffering from a lack of talent rather than discipline but last time I looked penalties were not divided into either foul play or ineptitude. Ironically a yellow card might actually have worked against Wales if it had resulted in uncontested scrums but the extra man could have made a big difference in the loose.
Mitch, Wales

Hi Mitch, Wayne Barnes is normally on the money when it comes to technical decisions. I stand by his decisions in this particular case.

Hi Jeremy, Wasn't it sad to see so many empty seats in the new stadium in Dublin on Saturday?
Stephen McGovern, Ireland

Hi Stephen, I would say it was a tad embarrassing for the IRFU to have so many empty seats in the new stadium. Irish supporters can only hope that the IRFU has learnt from its errors in the ticketing policy for the autumn internationals.

Hi Jeremy, can you image what would happen if you could combine the South African forwards and the Australian backs. Would you like to manage such a team if it could be arranged?
Neville Robertson, UK

Hi Neville, the South Africa forwards certainly put it to Ireland, as did the Aussie backs to Wales and New Zealand the week before. I was amazed at how easily the Springbok forwards controlled the first half against Ireland, it just proves how valuable experience really can be sometimes. As for the Wallaby backs; it's just a pleasure to watch them roll.

Hi Jerry, centre cum fly-half Billy Twelvetrees has been playing well for Leicester. Do you think he will be making it into the England side or do your think he needs more time to grow? Also, have you ever been asked to do Strictly Come Dancing? If not, would you do it if asked?
James, England

Matt Dawson and his dance partner Lilia Kopylova in 2006
Matt Dawson was runner-up in the 2006 Strictly Come Dancing series

Hi James, Billy Twelvetrees needs more time to show us he's the man for England - he's only been around a couple of minutes.

Enquiries have been made to see if I would be interested in doing Strictly but it conflicts with my rugby commitments for the BBC. I've enjoyed watching the programme and the rugby boys have all done reasonably well so I might be tempted if asked again.

JG, following a discussion in a pub, there's 50p riding on this! Which position in rugby (position, not individual player) do you reckon receives the most yellow cards? I reckon it's blind-side flanker, one mate reckons it's 'the front row' (which I guess gives him three chances to my one), whereas a third friend claims he "read somewhere" that it's the scrum-half (though he's since been unable to provide his source). What would be your guess?
Dave Winter, France

Hi Dave, I would go for the second row, at least one player at four and five is a kind of enforcer type character likely to step on the wrong side of the law from time to time.

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see also
Johnson frustrated by slow start
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
England 16-26 New Zealand
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Wales 25-29 South Africa
13 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Gatland rues costly Wales errors
06 Nov 10 |  Welsh
Wales 16-25 Australia
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Kidney bemoans slow Irish start
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union
Ireland 21-23 South Africa
06 Nov 10 |  Rugby Union

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