By Paul Morgan, editor of Rugby World Magazine
ENGLAND FANS all over the world will have been disappointed to see their side stall again in Rome, and scramble a win against Italy.
It is becoming a habit for England but Ireland, Wales and Scotland would swap places with them now as they sit with France as the only unbeaten sides in the Championship.
What bearing will it have on the rest of the Championship for England? If they had lost they would have had little or no chance of beating Ireland at Twickenham in a fortnight.
But now they have won against a passionate and improving Italy, and without picking up any serious injuries, the match will have little bearing on the clash with Ireland.
England will move on quickly from this performance.
I think both sides should be ashamed of the Opta-statistics, which showed an embarrassing 96 kicks in this game. Shocking!
I think the IRB should bring in a rule like they do in cricket where the captain is fined for a slow over rate. I believe that it a match has more than 60 kicks in it both sides should have to devote 25% of their match fee to charity.
Of course Martin Johnson and Steve Borthwick focused on the positives and it was better than 2008. England did make a number of linebreaks (five to Italy’s none) and had they converted one of the early ones they could have won at a canter. But when the game sent most people to sleep I think they both have a duty to entertain. Don’t you? Win first, and entertain second, especially as thousands of England fans spent thousands of pounds following them to Italy.
For Italy this was definitely better than last year and when Scotland arrive in Rome in two weeks with the Scots damaged by injuries I would make the Italians slight favourites. If Italy show the same sort of passion and purpose as they did against England, Scotland’s season could be over.
For England the arrival of Ireland should be a sensational encounter, one of the highlights of the Championship! Let’s hope both teams keep the ball out of the stratosphere and let their work with ball in hand decide the match.
Mathew Tait: Well Rugby World has been saying it for years but it appears Martin Johnson has only just heard it. This guy is a linebreaker and a very dangerous runner, who needs to have a run of international rugby.
Tim Payne: Often maligned but he stood up superbly against the Italian pack, led by Martin Castrogiovanni. A good scrummaging performance from the Wasps man.
Steve Borthwick: Gets better and better and is now starting to steal ball on a regular basis.
Ugo Monye: Wonderful to see the Quins wing back on top form. One of the quickest in the Six Nations he was born to score tries
But what do you think? Did you watch the game on television or perhaps you were with me in Rome? Let me know your opinion.