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In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Sunday March 12 2006

Well, France gave England a right old spanking in Paris this afternoon.  It was England’s biggest Six Nations margin of defeat for thirty four years, apparently.  Do your own linking.  Just type in France 31 England 6 rugby, and you’ll get to the whole horror story soon enough.

Scotland tackled out of their skins last weekend, but this time, I am unable to present any arguments against the verdict of the TV commentators, Moore and Guscott.  England were bloody awful.  Against Scotland they created chances to win, but failed to take them.  Against France they could create nothing.

My problem is that, having actually played a spot of rugger at school, I know how damnably difficult it is to play the game well.  I feel bad about saying that people like, I don’t know, Ben Cohen or Josh Lewsey (members, let it not be forgotten, of England’s World Cup winning side), are crap.  But, comparatively speaking, and whatever the reasons may be, England are now crap.  The French team is much the same as the French team of the previous few years, yet England has never recently been beaten like this, by them or by anyone else.

France didn’t even play particularly well.  None of their three tries were classic end-to-end French extravaganzas.  The first was a lucky bounce after England cocked up the catching of a high ball, after less than a minute of the game.  Over an hour later, France scored only their second try with another kick ahead.  And right at the death, Dominici ran in an interception try.  If France had been on song like they can be, it would have been more like sixty.  The really scary thing was that their scrum was better.  England struggle behind a dominant scrum.  Behind a submissive scrum they can offer nothing.

The ludicrous thing is that, mathematically, England could still actually win this thing.  England might well beat the Irish at Twickenham next Saturday.  And if the French go to sleep against Wales, that might see England winning, by points difference, against Ireland and France, all with six points each.  But Ireland will probably defeat this now demoralised England side.  And even the French, to ensure Six Nations victory and if only to prevent the damn English from having any chance of winning, will surely exert themselves sufficiently to beat the equally demoralised Welsh.  Wales did, after all, win the Grand Slam only last year.  On the other hand, Wales stumbled to a catastrophic home draw against Italy yesterday, so maybe the French will say to themselves, what is the point of beating them?  And maybe, with much Gallic shrugging, they won’t bother.  And maybe the Welsh will play out of their skins.  You never know with the French, or the Welsh.  But for what it’s worth, I say France to win it.

As the France England game got under way, I wrote the following words:  “Personally I think France will walk it.  Against England, like all the sides in the Six Nations, they really try their hardest, and their hardest, I think, will be plenty good enough.” Now why couldn’t I have blogged that last night, or last week?  There was nothing stopping me.

Thirty years ago, when England last got beaten by twenty five points, I used to watch England play in these games, and it was always the same story.  Their forwards were quite good.  Their backs looked good as well, but somehow never managed to score enough tries, and England rarely won the Six Nations, and never the Grand Slam.  It looks like those days are back, and that, for the foreseeable future, rugger for an England fan like me will be Only A Game.

Google your way to England India cricket Mohali, and you’ll find that England are probably going to lose that as well.