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

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Monday March 14 2011

Next weekend the Six Nations Rugby will end, I trust with England winning the Grand Slam.  England have certainly been the best side, but there are worrying signs that they aren’t that good either.  England’s best moment came a few minutes into their second game, against Italy, when the England halves cut the Italian defence into fragments and put Ashton in for the first of his four tries in that eight-tries-to-one drubbing.  Italy never recovered their defensive poise after that early shock to their system.  In particular, they had probably not prepared for those inside passes that England have specialised in this year.  But subsequent England opponents, I surmise, have practised against this particular ploy, and there has been nothing quite as good as that Italy performance from England since.  Other sides are getting wise to the England threat, and once they respect it, they can settle down to nullifying it.

Basically, I think defences have got very, very solid.  Professional is the word.  As in: very, very boring.  They make all the backs they are up against either run into them, which is boring, or run sideways, ditto.  And England’s defence is one of the best.

Antoine Clarke asked in a comment on this what I made of Italy.  Briefly what I think of Italy is that they are slowly improving, while France are struggling with the fact that those professional defences can no longer be bamboozled with Gallic flair.  Something to do with defenders not making eye contact, but just covering all the likely areas, and hunting in little teams.  One guy takes your top half, the other your lower torso.  This leaves France reduced, humiliatingly, to just another collection of Six Nations cloggers.  This is not new.  It has been happening for some years.

France also have the problem of a coach who has completely lost it, his extraordinary eruption after France got beaten narrowly by Italy having been by far the most amusing Six Nations thing that happened last weekend.

But question.  During that Italy France game, the BBC were calling the French coach “Lee Vr Mon”.  But I regularly hear other people who also ought to know call him “Lee Yeh Vr Mon”.  To put it another way, is there a grave accent over the first e in Lievremont, or is there not?  I’m thinking: yes there is.  You might miss an accent, but you are less likely to make one up that isn’t really there.

You expect individual English BBC commentators who used to be players to screw around with foreign names.  Yesterday Guscott, for example, was calling Rougerie “Rougier”, and I recall complaining about this kind of thing from Jonathan Davies a couple of years ago.  But you don’t expect BBC people who are there because their expertise is talking to mess up foreign names.  But I rather think they did.  Antoine?

And talking of screwing up, Serge Betsen was and I believe still is a fine player, but his command of English is inadequate for him to be a commentator on Brit TV.  All he did was subtract the question mark from the questions asked of him.  So Betsen, are France very optimistic about bouncing back from their loss against England and winning this game this afternoon?  Betsen: Yes eh eh eh eh eh France air eh eh eh eh vairy optimistic eh eh ay bout boun seeng back and eh eh eh weeneeng thees gemm.  The more tongue tied he became, the longer the questions got, just to make sure that something coherent was said.  Betsen may be an expert on rugby in French, but in English, this is not expertise.