Blogs & Opinion


Stuart Lancaster will stick with Chris Robshaw until openside flanker arrives

Features Posted 24th October 2013 view comments

When it came to the England captain I don't think Stuart Lancaster had any other choice but to stick with Chris Robshaw.

I still stand by the fact that England are struggling to find an out-and-out No.7 - Lancaster has admitted that himself - but until they do, then Robshaw is the man for the job.

He has not let anyone down and I think his captaincy has improved, and even though he has made a few mistakes, we all do that.

Robshaw: right man for the job

Robshaw: right man for the job

Tom Wood was thrown into the mix after he led England on their successful tour to Argentina but that was just because Robshaw was rested.

Wood will still play an important part for England this autumn and will be seen as one of the senior men in the team that Robshaw will rely on.

Problem

Robshaw is not the flashiest of backrow players but you don't want flashy - you want someone to do the job and someone to lead and control the side.

England have a powerful front five, but when they come up against a front five who get parity or get one over them, that is when you really see their lack of a specialist flanker.

Dewi Morris
Quotes of the week

At the moment he is that man. Whether he is or isn't he a specialist 7 often overshadows the good work he does - though, saying that, it is still a problem for England.

On current form Robshaw has carried England pretty well through last autumn and the Six Nations. I was also impressed with his incredible work rate against Clermont Auvergne.

He had 7 on his back in that game but played a No.6 role while Luke Wallace, who was wearing the No.6 jersey, played a No.7 role.

I am slightly biased when it comes to the role of a No.7. Where are the key areas in rugby? For me, it is the breakdown and the key man to rule that area is an out-and-out 7, be it a McCaw, a Pocock or a Hooper.

These are the guys that influence the decisions.

Balance

I am talking from experience because I have dealt with some very good 7s - the likes Neil Back and Peter Winterbottom - and I know the advantage of having someone like that in your side. At the moment we have this imbalance in the England backrow.

You can get past that imbalance if your front five are dominating and powerful but it is when that momentum slows down and you get on the back foot that you have to have your 7 making the same impact.

Robshaw's role is a more carrying and linking one rather than getting over the ball. He can do it and he does do it but it is not natural for him and he is playing slightly out of position.

England have a powerful front five, but when they come up against a front five who get parity or get one over them, that is when you really see their lack of a specialist flanker.

We all thought Matt Kvesic would build on his form from Argentina with Gloucester but it has not happened. Will Fraser is back from injury and needs more time. Luke Wallace is looking good but is he good enough to get in ahead of Robshaw?

Lancaster was right to stick with Robshaw as captain and will stick with him until a specialist No.7 comes knocking on the England door.

Comments (2)

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

William Harrison says...

I think the thing that saved Robshaw was Tom Croft getting injured. Had Croft been fit Robshaw would have struggled to get in the side as Croft, Wood and either Morgan or Vunipola would surely have made up the back row.

Posted 12:23 5th November 2013

Fred Pike says...

Well done Dewi - as you played behind Back and Winterbottom, you clearly know what you are talking about! That is the best balanced and articulated analysis of our No 7 problem, and how it impacts on the whole side, that I have seen for some time, amidst all the flotsam of the rugby media. I really get fed up with all the so called armchair experts, many of which, have never played the game, saying it is not that important, you just need experience.

Posted 17:38 4th November 2013

  • Page 1 of 1
  • 1

back to top

Other Rugby Union Experts:

Latest Posts in Rugby Union:

Latest News RSS feeds

Barnes: Plenty to play for

Stuart Barnes says England's clash with Ireland could be a Six Nations decider, but the other games must not be forgotten.

Vunipola calls for intensity

Billy Vunipola says England will need to match the intensity they showed in Cardiff when they face Ireland in Dublin.

Williams facing nine months out

Leicester Tigers fly-half Owen Williams has been ruled out for nine months after having surgery on his knee.

Prop Welsh out of Six Nations

Scotland will be without prop Jon Welsh for the rest of the RBS Six Nations Championship.

Goode to join London Irish

Former England fly-half Andy Goode will leave Wasps to join fellow Aviva Premiership side London Irish next season.

Features

PRO12 Highlights

PRO12 Highlights

Watch all the highlights of this weekend's Guinness PRO12 action.

Six Nations in pictures

Six Nations in pictures

We bring you the best action shots from the second weekend of the 2015 Six Nations.

Six Nations: Dean Ryan is delighted that England have stuck with Jonathan Joseph in the centre

Six Nations: Dean Ryan is delighted that England have stuck with Jonathan Joseph in the centre

Worcester coach Dean Ryan is delighted that England have stuck with Jonathan Joseph in the centre against Italy.