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World Cup 2011: Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Jeremy Guscott
BBC pundit Guscott is on hand to tackle your queries throughout the season

Former Bath, England and Lions centre Jeremy Guscott is here to answer your rugby union questions after the first round of World Cup games in New Zealand.

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Wales' agonising loss to South Africa

- England's perceived problems at the breakdown

- Ireland's struggle to impose themselves

- And the marked improvement by the so-called smaller nations

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


Wales look dejected
Wales may struggle to bounce back from the bitter blow of South Africa.

This is the second time since the 2007 World Cup that Wales have lost to South Africa by a tight margin after being in the lead: do you think Wales are chokers?

George, UK

Hi George, quite honestly Wales on this occasion are far from chokers, this was the best game of the tournament so far and Wales were massive contributors. Wales haven't been in this situation often enough and so do not deserve to be labelled chokers.

I'm fed up of hearing "we should be proud of that performance" or "we can take a lot from that game". Surely we (the Welsh) can only be proud when we beat a big team? We were once again the better team but importantly didn't win. Your thoughts?

Gethin Greves, Wales

Hi Jeremy. If you were in the Welsh camp what would you say to the team in light of the narrow defeat by South Africa? We're getting good at being honourable losers playing some nice rugby - but it's time to cross the finishing line. South Africa were there for the beating.

David, Wales

Hi David & Gethin. If Wales play as well as they did against SA for the rest of the tournament there won't be many teams that are capable of beating them. Although Rhys Priestland played well I would have started with James Hook at 10 and played Leigh Halfpenny at full back.

Coach Warren Gatland now has a really important role this week, he has to get it into the Welsh players' heads that they were the better team and that South Africa were fortunate, they only won because the Welsh missed a penalty and drop goal. I believe the Welsh players should be inspired by their performance but it could have the adverse effect on them. That's where Gatland and his team have to earn their money.

Hi Jerry, we have heard coach Warren Gatland talking about the opportunities that Wales missed, but we must also look at some of the critical decisions made by the officials. I understand that they have a very difficult job at the World Cup, but we have to see if the kick by James Hook did go over, so do you think that the television match official (TMO) needs to be used more often for such times?

Philip, England

Jerry do you think that referee Wayne Barnes should have consulted the TMO over James Hook's penalty, which the assistant referees disallowed? From the television angle it looked over. By consulting the TMO Barnes would have removed any uncertainty.

Del Wilcox, UK

Hi Del and Philip. We actually saw Wayne Barnes gesture with his hands towards the touchline, he kind of drew the square with his hands indicating go to the TMO but he appeared to be unsure if he could or not. As I understand it, the TMO protocol would have allowed Barnes to go to the replay but he decided to take his assistant referee's decision that the penalty missed. It looked good to me from my studio seat in Dubai.

I believe the Welsh players should be inspired by their performance, but it could have the adverse effect on them

How did you rate the Welsh performance against South Africa and do you agree that James Hook needs to be at 10 to give Wales the extra attacking edge they need?

Gareth Edwards, Wales

Hi Gareth, very famous name you have… It's the best Welsh performance I have seen in a long time and yes, in my opinion Hook should always start at 10.

As a Wales supporter for over 40 years I have watched Wales play many fantastic matches but lose, I have also watched England on many occasions play quite badly and win, what do you think is the missing ingredient that would take Wales all the way?

Ian, Wales

Hi Ian, I truly believe Wales have had a mental weakness over the past couple of seasons which is inexplicable given they won the Grand Slam with most of this team a few seasons ago. Having said that to my eye there was no obvious mental weakness shown by any player playing at the weekend. Even the best teams miss penalties and drop goals, Wales deserved to win and will win more games than not if they continue to put performances like that together.

Hi Jeremy, is Wales's back row of Toby Faletau, Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton the best home nations back row since England's Richard Hill, Neil Back and Lawrence Dallaglio? Also do you agree with Lawrence Dallaglio's comments that James Haskell could be the world's best number eight?

Anon, Wales

Hi Anon, to be fair that Welsh backrow have very stiff competition in a fit Irish backrow of O'Brien, Wallace and Heaslip. Falateau has to keep improving; it was his best game for Wales by far, Warburton is world class and Lydiate only a tad behind. With regard to Dallaglio's comments about Haskell, I seem to remember him not being too complimentary about him and isn't it strange that now Haskell's returning to Wasps Lawrence thinks he could be the world's best. Personally, I don't think so, he's become too bulky. Look at the best number eights in the world - Kieran Read and Pierre Spies - they are more athletic than Heaslip and have better distribution.

Hi Jerry, do you reckon England's stuttering performance against Argentina was due to nerves? And do you think England will react with improved performances?

Tom, UK

Hi Tom, England's poor display was in a large part down to individuals not doing their job. The amount of missed tackles would have been embarrassing to watch again during their analysis session. I don't blame Jonny Wilkinson, all kickers have an off day and that was his, but I still would have subbed him. England will appear to improve because the opposition will be easier.

Jonny Wilkinson reflects on another missed kick
Don't question Wilkinson's kicking; he just needs to sort his radar.

Jerry, how do you explain England's on-going problems at the breakdown? They consistently struggle to get quick and clean ball and statistically are giving away far more penalties than the other major nations at the breakdown?

Richard Bullard, Belgium

Jerry, it seems that the breakdown remains a massive problem for England. Do you feel that this is due to the lack of a genuine open-side flanker, poor forwards coaching (John Wells has been forwards coach for years) or something else? Why aren't England focusing on securing quick ball?

Will, Singapore

Hi Richard & Will, it certainly doesn't help not having a natural number seven, even with Moody who is a more destructive player than a linking one it doesn't get a lot better. Life would be made so much easier for whoever plays at number seven if the ball carrier ran with some passion and aggression, that would give the momentum for quick ball. With the likes of Haskell and Easter plus Lawes and Cole, England should have enough speed to be more effective in counter rucking but they don't seem to be able to manage that very well.

Why didn't England's centres get a chance to really run in anger at the Argentine defence? How can England try to get Manu Tuilagi and Mike Tindall into more attacking places on the pitch?

Harry, UK

Hi Harry, some people said that Wilkinson ran across too much but I still think Mike Tindall could have been deeper in his alignment and come straighter and closer to Jonny and taking a shorter pass before running hard just like Jamie Roberts did for Wales. The ball was slow for them but they could have made more of the ball they had by running straighter and harder, it's a state of mind reading the game and adapting.

Why on earth did Martin Johnson decide to start Louis Deacon in the second row over one of England's players of the Six Nations in Tom Palmer?

Luke, England

Hi Luke, Palmer had lost form by the end of the Six Nations, Deacon had a reasonable game against Ireland and Martin Johnson decided to keep the Lawes/Deacon combo.

James Arlidge of  Japan
James Arlidge (Japan) had one of the World Cup's stand-out performances

Which players do you feel were the standout performers of the opening World Cup matches?

Kenny, Wales

Hi Kenny, Australia winger Digby Ioane, Fiji's Vereniki Goneva, Wales players Sam Warburton and Jamie Roberts, James Arlidge (Japan) and Scotland's Simon Danielli plus England's Ben Youngs for his impact.

Is there some sort of change going on in rugby? With near upsets in all but two games, do you think rugby's influence is finally expanding?

Peter, Scotland

Hi Peter, I was very impressed with the lower-tiered teams' performances, it would appear at this stage that professionalism has helped the so called smaller nations. New Zealand have traditionally beaten Tonga by 80+ points, France generally have slaughtered Japan, even Scotland have giving out hidings to Romania but not a jot this last weekend and it was good for the game. I hope it continues.

Hi Jeremy. Blunt question, what is wrong with Ireland? For five games in a row they have played awful rugby. These are players that make up top European sides like Leinster, Munster and Ulster yet when they put on the green jersey they seem to lose the ability to play any sort of decent rugby. There was no excuse for not getting the bonus point against the United States. Even if they just got the basics right they should have put 50 points on them. It looks like history repeating itself as I can't see us beating Australia or Italy. Early flight home for us.

Phil, Ireland

Hi Phil, you've said it all and I agree.

You can also follow Jerry on Twitter at: http://twitter.com/JeremyGuscott



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see also
Jeremy Guscott's World Cup players to watch
08 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
South Africa 17-16 Wales
14 Sep 11 |  Welsh
Ireland 22-10 USA
14 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Australia 32-6 Italy
14 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Lawes given two-match suspension
13 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
England 13-9 Argentina
12 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup 2011 team guide
08 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union
Jeremy Guscott's World Cup Q&A
30 Aug 11 |  Rugby Union
Rugby World Cup fixtures and results
26 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union


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