Friday, March 12, 2010

The former England skipper writes for The Northern Echo during the RBS 6 Nations.

England now have a couple of weeks to regroup and prepare for the mustwin game against France at Stade de France.

The destiny of the championship is, to some extent, still in their own hands. If England can beat both Scotland and France in their final two games then points difference could be crucial.
Ireland’s ability to score tries, three to be precise, was a shining example for England, if ever they needed one, of where they are falling short.
Jonny Wilkinson will always be able to keep the score ticking over with his boot, however the indents that penalties make need to be supported by the greater blows inflicted by tries.
Indeed, Wilkinson was the best of England’s backs on Saturday and their performance was benefited by the introduction of the lively Ben Foden in the second half.
It was good to see a player in an England jersey whose first instinct was to attack and his incisive play should be rewarded with a greater opportunity against Scotland.
I presume his replacement Paul Hodgson was brought on to shore up the defence, but unfortunately that never happened. Care seemed to have grown into the game by the time he was taken off but perhaps his industrious afternoon in muddy conditions had caught up with him.
While England are now looking at another twoweek hiatus, I’ve strapped the lycra back on for the penultimate stage of the Dallaglio Cycle Slam. A tricky 410km ride from Twickenham to Fishguard via Cardiff’s Millenium Stadium will set up the final leg, but there is a lot of pedalling to be done before I can even begin to think about the finish line.
In total I’m cycling 2,800km from Rome to Murrayfield, taking in Paris, Twickenham, Cardiff and Dublin along the way.
A crazy idea I know, however it’s all in aid of Sport Relief and the Dallaglio Foundation, so well worth the physical challenge.
Follow my progress on I’ll look ahead to the game with Scotland in next week’s column.
England will have to bounce back quickly to keep their championship hopes alive but one thing’s for sure, the fat lady hasn’t sung just yet.

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