I was staggered to see Mako & Jamie George being substituted on 76 minutes, these were supposed to be the flogged English compared to our rested, tapered equivalents. They have an extra day's rest before France but still.
Curry, at just 20, was very impressive.
This was so bad, so off, so lacking in a discernible game plan relative to what we have seen before that it leaves me wondering if Joe has really prepared as he usually does for the tournament and if it really was 'just' a matter of being mentally undercooked versus a side that was primed. I hope it was the latter but feel that it was more than a blip. That was such a hammering that it will have wreaked psychological havoc on the squad that will be hard to dispel in Murrayfield.
Owen Farrell's leadership was excellent and really evident. Even before England's kick-off to start the match, we were lined out in position and the english team were in a huddle, in their own mental zone, before unleashing a blitzkrieg start. He also called them in for a huddle after the final whistle. Bye, bye Dylan.
The Aviva crowd was back to it's pampered worst. Pampered poodles waiting to be entertained. Such a fall off from the All Blacks game (understandable to a degree) which in itself was a throw back to the Lansdowne Road era when raw atmospheres built from the terraces and a crowd really hungry for rugby entertainment (as opposed to a day out) made it awkward for opposing teams and officials alike. When Garces gave the first Slade try and with it a 9 (potentially 11) point lead despite a 3m forward pass (velocity me arse) and Slade being a metre ahead (proven by the application of a straight line on Virgin's coverage) the crowd hardly bleeted. We weren't the better side but we had a puncher's chance until that happened.
Vering well off course now, but the anaemic crowd is symptomatic of how the sport is being hollowed out. A lack of real fans (yes real fans) in attendance, instead it is firstly a money making exercise (booze, food and merchandise) and secondly a social occasion. Thirdly it is about 'entertainment', which is fine but in itself but the rules of rugby union are being eroded and we are ending up with league: crooked feeds at first phase, hindmost-foot-me-arse despite 4 officials, going off feet, sealing-off, in from the side, forward passes legitimised by the laws of physics, obstruction both on the kick-chase and in having two or three lines of attackers.
The only bit they haven't hollowed out is the scrum. It is a sacred cow that eats between 1 and 2 minutes of a match every time one is called. Each one is an 8th wonder of time-wasting . As soon as te whistle is blown for a scrum we have a conference between any player(s) who want to approach the referee about anything whatsoever that is going on in the game, only then do the forwards assemble very slowly, at which point the referee attempts to hold a master class in scrummaging and clarification of issues with the front rows, only then do they begin to bind and set their stance slowly and meticulously, the second rows then follow slowly behind the front row, etc, etc before the ball is fed crookedly and the scrum has a 50-50 chance of needing to be reset.
I have got to the stage after over 40 years of fanatical following of the game that it find it hard to watch matches that Leinster or Ireland aren't involved in because it is largely turgid and brutally dangerous all built winning through obstruction and bending/breaking the laws.
Finally, did anyone else think that there were more visits to the pitch by water carriers (3 on each side each time) than you are likely to see over 90 minutes of soccer in the Qatar World Cup? More time wasting, chats with the referee and time wasting!!