Six Nations Championship 2021: Mike Phillips on Wales' win over England and Ireland's victory in Italy
Former Wales scrum-half Phillips spoke of his delight for head coach Wayne Pivac as Wales clinched the Triple Crown with victory over England. Plus his thoughts on the controversy around Wales' first two tries and Ireland's win in Italy
Last Updated: 01/03/21 2:15pm
Former Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips is the latest international star to join us to look back on the latest round of action in the Six Nations.
Phillips, who was part of three Welsh championship triumphs during a career which saw him become his country's second most-capped No 9, gave his views on Wayne Pivac's men's 40-24 victory over England which clinched the Triple Crown.
He also shares his thoughts on the controversy around Wales' first two tries in Cardiff, where England go after their title defence was left in tatters and Italy's place in the tournament after the 48-10 loss at home to Ireland made it 30 straight Six Nations defeats for the Azzurri…
Very happy for Wayne Pivac and the welsh team! Fantastic win 👍🏴— Mike Phillips (@mikephillips009) February 27, 2021
Pleased for Pivac and Wales
Mike Phillips: It's amazing the difference in the Wales team from the November internationals to being in with a chance of completing the Grand Slam, but to be fair Wayne Pivac always said he was using that timeframe to blood a lot of youngsters.
Yes, Wales didn't get the victories, but it was a transition period and they obviously gained a lot out of it and now they've got a bit more continuity with selection. They've had a few injuries, but it's been a great start and all credit to Wayne.
He's made some big decisions and at key times in games he brought off very experienced players and brought on youngsters who have changed the game. He needs a lot of praise, so I'm delighted for him because he came in for a lot of stick.
I was so confident Wales were going to win against England on Saturday, purely because there had been a lot of doubt about the England team and we haven't seen that for many, many years.
The players were not on form and a lot of the Saracens boys haven't played top-flight rugby for a while. I didn't expect it to be by such a margin, but fair play to the Welsh team because they were superb.
The controversy around two of Wales' tries
MP: Dan Biggar did a similar thing to Wales' first try on Saturday in the friendly in Cardiff before the 2019 World Cup, but to be fair this one was a bit harsh. Referee Pascal Gauzere told Owen Farrell to have a chat with his team and then he turned around and said play on.
It was very dubious, but as a Welshman sometimes you've just got to let things fly against England!
I don't know whether some of the English players were in his ear a bit too much and you've got to play to the ref. It's a different kind of game in rugby where you've got to speak to him, really get to know him, do a lot of research and find out where he gives his penalties, where he doesn't and what kind of guy he is.
Sometimes it's best to say nothing, just be complimentary, sometimes have a joke, and England's players didn't really change and adapt. England's players have got to realise that they had to change their tactics and come off the gas a bit.
The second try where it was decided Louis Rees-Zammit had not knocked on in the build-up, I thought was a little bit of luck again and you've seen them given - but it all comes down to the interpretation of the ref.
Wales have had a bit of luck, but you earn that luck and a lot of hard work must be going on behind the scenes. You take those things in rugby and sometimes they go against you, but that's how tough it is and the margins are so small so it's nice when those decisions go your way.
Where next for England?
MP: If you go back to the 2019 World Cup and that win in the semi-final against New Zealand, England were outstanding and the brand of rugby they played was superb - even as a Welshman you have to applaud it!
It was flowing rugby, offloading, lots of little passes and intricacies, and front five players taking the ball to the line and passing back. We haven't really seen that since for whatever reason.
I felt with George Ford at fly-half, he was in the pocket, it was obvious what he was going to do, he wasn't taking it to the line and was just shipping it on. Then as a defensive line, you can just push off him and create width with your defence.
I think Manu Tuilagi is a big miss in midfield for them as he's a target, he's got good footwork and can take two or three guys out, and creates space for others as well.
But England have got so much depth and they'll always bounce back because they've got such a quality side. Their players are a little bit out of form at the minute, that's all it is.
Italy's Six Nations future
MP: There is a lot of debate whether Italy should still be in the competition because you want games to be close. We've seen a lot of games go down to the wire and that's what you want as a neutral.
Ireland crush Italy in Rome victory
Ireland returned to winning ways in the Six Nations on Saturday as they crushed Italy 48-10 in Rome, registering six tries.
Italy haven't progressed for a number of years now, they've lost 30 straight games in the Six Nations and although they're playing a brand of rugby which is expansive, everyone else is improving and they don't seem to be doing the simple things right, which is a bit of a shame.
They're blooding a lot of youngsters, but you want every single game to be competitive. There is some serious debate about whether they should be there, and people should think about asking the question: What are they bringing?
From Ireland's perspective, you can praise them but because Italy are so poor you can't really take too much out of that game.
To be fair, Ireland could have sneaked the win against Wales first up even with 14 players and there was so much good to come out of that game even though they didn't win. Listening to Johnny Sexton speaking, they feel they're in a good place and I'm sure they want to finish strong.