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Rugby World Cup 2011: Jeremy Guscott Q&A

Wales players
Wales suffered an agonising 9-8 defeat to France in the semi-final

Jeremy Guscott

Former England centre Jeremy Guscott answers your questions after New Zealand and France reach the final

Among the topics Jerry discusses this week are:

- Sam Warburton's sending off for Wales in the semi-final

- Who England should have in charge

- Lions XV if they were playing tomorrow

- France's chances in the final

If you have any questions for Jeremy, please use the post form 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.


After watching Wales pretty much outplay the French on Saturday, I can't help thinking Sam Warburton's dismissal was a huge boost for the French. Do you think it was a red card?
Ian, England

The difference between Wales winning and losing was referee Alain Rolland's decision to send off Warburton for the tip tackle on Vincent Clerc. I said it was the wrong decision at the time and I still stand by that view. I understand that the IRB, the game's governing body, had circulated a memo to referees about the laws, asking them that, in the event of a tip tackle, to start at red and work backwards. In my opinion, Rolland could have worked back to a yellow for Warburton.

Sam Warburton sending off
Warburton was dismissed for the dump tackle

Once Sam had made that tackle, how could he have made sure that Vincent Clerc came to ground more gently?
Ianto, Wales

Warburton should not have lifted Clerc. He put himself in a very difficult position once he lifted, tipped and dropped. From there, it was always going to be difficult to get Clerc's legs back down below the horizontal. Once Warburton let go of Clerc, he risked the red. (Law 10.4 J)

Do you think Warburton's tackle was worse than that of New Zealand's Sonny Bill Williams, who was yellow-carded for a shoulder charge on Australia's Quade Cooper? I think Williams showed more intent to hurt the player.
Daniel Grimsey, England

Williams was dealt with by the letter of the law. With time to reflect, I do not think his tackle was worse than Warburton's. I will get a ton of stick for saying that but it's my opinion.

Do you think England's team could have performed better if the selectors had settled on a first team and stuck with it? Injuries aside, there is almost no position where the selectors seem certain who their first choice is. That has to be bad for the confidence of individual players and the overall cohesion of the team.
Dave T, UK

It's a very difficult question to answer. England coach Martin Johnson had to make some changes because of suspension and injuries, as you say. But it was hard for the selectors to settle on a team when the performances of individuals - and the side as a whole - was not consistently good enough. A lot of the England players just couldn't find their best form when it was needed. If anything, I felt Johnson gave too many players the benefit of doubt and didn't drop them sooner. I don't think he did himself any favours either by going for Jonny Wilkinson at fly-half and Toby Flood at inside centre for the quarter-final defeat against France. That decision didn't work.

There seems to be widespread agreement that England underperformed at the World Cup. Who would you like to see in the coaching and management set up going forward to 2015?
Charlie Siegle, England

I would go for Nick Mallett as head coach. He has the experience, he was born in England, he's got international experience and he's turned Italy into a decent team. A man like Mallett will have his own ideas about who he brings in to help him but I would look to get Shaun Edwards on board. I can't see him leaving his position as assistant coach with Wales given that it must be exciting and rewarding working with so much talent but I'd try to get him in, along with Mike Catt.

Will Carling expects Johnson to quit

My forwards coach would be Dean Ryan, while my wild card would be Australian rugby league captain Darren Lockyer, who retires after the forthcoming Four Nations. He may not be proven as a coach but his attacking ability is amazing and he knows all about defence.

Who do you see as the future centre pairing with Manu Tuilagi, presuming he continues his good form? I am seeing good things from Owen Farrell. Which young English talent would you predict good futures for?
Richard Lawson, England

It's really hard finding talent in a league that, at the moment, is more about physical power, size and attrition rather than skill, technique and speed. Farrell is showing signs of being a star but compare him to Matt Giteau at the same age. Is Farrell as good? I've said before that Farrell is small in comparison to many international centres. He needs to get faster. The reality is that he will probably play 10. England need to discover a Ma'a Nonu or Jean de Villiers, players that can deal with the contact but also see beyond it and link with team-mates. Right now, players like Jordan Turner-Hall and Brad Barritt certainly have the size but I'm not convinced yet they have the guile or speed to craft the opportunities for the rest of the team. At the moment, Tuilagi looks more like a 13 than 12 but that may well change as he develops his game. I'm convinced the right coach will find the personnel.

On the basis of the performances at the World Cup, who would pick for your starting Lions XV if they were to play tomorrow?
James Fieldsend, UK

I5 Ben Foden (England)

14 George North (Wales)

13 Manu Tuilagi (England)

12 Jamie Roberts (Wales)

11 Keith Earls (Ireland)

10 Rhys Priestland (Wales)

9 Mike Phillips (Wales)

8 Jamie Heaslip (Ireland)

7 Sam Warburton (Wales)

6 Sean O'Brien (Ireland)

5 Paul O'Connell (Ireland)

4 Luke Charteris (Wales)

3 Adam Jones (Wales)

2 Rory Best (Ireland)

1 Gethin Jenkins (Wales)

People are immediately writing the French off ahead of the World Cup final but anything can happen. Do you agree? Ben, England

I tend to agree with what most people are saying and really don't give France much chance of beating New Zealand. But you're right, anything is possible when it comes to a final. I'll be looking at this match in more detail in my analysis piece for the BBC Sport website later in the week.

France's Vincent Clerc
Vincent Clerc admitted France got their tactics wrong after the sending-off

"After the red card, we adopted the wrong plan... we were suffering under the Welsh pressure" -France wing Vincent Clerc. Do you agree Les Bleus should be ashamed after their display in semis? Or do you understand their choice of a supposedly "no-risk", 100% defensive strategy?
Ben92, France

I don't agree that the French should feel ashamed. They didn't commit to the breakdown in the last few minutes of the game because they didn't want to give away a penalty. They didn't play well but Wales did not kick their penalties and conversion. The bottom line is that France won and are in the final, although most rugby folk are still trying to work out how they got there after losing two pool games. We will never fully understand the French way. They are sublime one minute and sub-zero the next. The coach, Marc Lievremont, has done the hokey cokey with this French squad ever since he took charge, so I'm not surprised they appear to have no real strategy.

Follow Jerry on Twitter: @JeremyGuscott



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see also
Carling expects Johnson to quit
18 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 8-9 France
18 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales debated cheating - Gatland
18 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Wales hand captaincy to Jenkins
19 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Edwards unsure over Wales future
18 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Roberts focuses on Australia game
18 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Warburton banned for three weeks
17 Oct 11 |  Welsh
Henry hails 'heroic' All Blacks
17 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
New Zealand 20-6 Australia
16 Oct 11 |  Rugby Union
Tuilagi regrets jump from ferry
16 Oct 11 |  English
Rugby World Cup 2011 team guide
08 Sep 11 |  Rugby Union


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