• Road Captain
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I was dreading coming back here (here being both VR and the UK in general) and having to face those who, like MV, are not of a red rose persuasion after England's performance. In the 4 years under Stuart Lancaster, England have progressed from an inconsistent but potentially brilliant side to one that is consistently not quite good enough. Four consecutive 2nd-place finishes in the Six Nations would make Peter Sagan laugh in pity; and it's not as if one other side has been dominant... both Wales and Ireland have beaten us to the title in that time.

Our win over Fiji was rusty - a side getting used to the pressures of being a host nation. Against Wales we were not good enough. Against Australia we barely turned up[1]. Even the first half against Uruguay seemed laboured. We have some very good players, and there is competition for almost every position. But we don't have enough spark. We don't have enough real game changers. There are very few players, I would argue, who would worry top-quality opposition by their inclusion in the squad.

It will be interesting to see what the even-older boys' club of the RFU do next. Lancaster deserves a position within the coaching set up - he is too talented to lose completely. But I think we need someone a bit more special to take this group of players - and the exciting crop of younger guys coming through the ranks - and allow them to fulfill their potential in Japan in four years' time.
 1. I was in Greece, 2 hours ahead of UK time... I survived to half time, which was about midnight, and gave up and went to bed...
I think you should watch the second half of AUS vs ENG, the hacks in the media are earning their corn by calling it a malling but with 70 minutes gone, England had closed to within 7 pts and were in the ascendancy. Then Farrell got his marching orders and England fell apart.

But the key result was the Wales game, which England had been bossing up to the hour mark and then threw away compounded with the decision to go for the line out rather than the match tying kick.

As for Lancaster, I have mostly sympathy with a bit of criticism at some of his less key decisions. It's not his fault that Tuilagi, Hartley, Abendon and the Armitage bros absented themselves for various reasons. Either you want to play for England enough or you don't, these guys who would have made a massive difference to Engand's chances, didn't.

I thought taking Burgess was the correct decision, he might have been great (and certainly out performed Barritt) and Burrell had proved he wasn't great on plenty of occassions.

But there were ripple effects all through the team, Tom Youngs' inclusion meant that Parling had to play because of his line out ability which meant that England were weakened in the scrum and breakdown. Barritt didn't look fit and neither did Mike Brown in the AUS game. Joseph's injury was key, as was the problems England had getting a fit No8 onto the field.

The things I'd say Lancaster got wrong were a) his replacements - having three potential fly halves and three potential full backs in the match day 23 makes no sense when you only have two potential centres and two potential wings. Also the replacements seemed to destabilise England against Wales and Australia, maybe he could have left key players on longer; Delallio played every minute of 2003.
b) On the field decision making  - Robshaw isn't a tactical genius, there needs to be someone in the team who he can turn to, even if that person isn't a born leader, someone who can say, "Don't be stupid, take the three points and live to fight another day." In 2003, England had leaders all over the park, some of that simply comes with accruing International experience; England didn't have nearly enough of it and needed to have an alternative way of making better decisions on the park.

Ultimately, Lancaster had a pretty weak hand, didn't play it perfectly but it wasn't a winning hand so better to let him use this experience to make him a better coach next time round.

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