Optimist Performance

A quick re-cap of what I wrote for City AM throughout the month of November. And thanks to Michael Lynagh for being a top bloke and helping us shine a light on SKRUM…

Well first, as I said in my most recent City AM article at the end of November, the northern hemisphere nations didn’t do themselves any harm at all. Ireland and Wales won all four matches, England claimed three out of four and Scotland had two victories. All very encouraging.

Second, England’s head coach Eddie Jones survived a pressure cooker coming into the month. He also unearthed some real gems along the way and added squad depth, even if some of it seemed to happen a little by accident.

Sam Underhill, Mark Wilson and Tom Curry were outstanding in the back row. Kyle Sinckler and Ben Moon excelled in the front row. And how emphatically did Joe Cokanasiga announce himself on the international stage?! It’s a big call, and let me know if you disagree @OlliePhillips11, but I can’t remember anyone looking more physically impressive on debut since Lomu. He played so well in his first few games that he’s arguably now in contention for a regular starting place on the wing. He is so dangerous and adds an extra dimension for England.

From half time in the the Japan match England seemed to grow in stature and show their attacking credentials.

The most valuable factor for me, though, was Owen Farrell’s move to fly-half and his combination with Henry Slade. If that axis can develop in 2019 they can be really dangerous.

Coming into the Australia game, I made the point that England’s next two matches could make or break their World Cup hopes. They’ve won the first one of those – against the Wallabies – but I still think that their next match in Dublin is huge for confidence.

Will they go to Japan as the best of the northern hemisphere challengers? It would be a big feather in the cap if they do.

Thanks to Michael Lynagh and check out SKRUM!

While we’re talking about Australia, I recently had the honour of hosting a Q&A with World Cup winner Michael Lynagh, one of the greatest living Wallabies. What a wonderful bloke and also what a great cause he was helping us to fundraise for. The SKRUM charity educates kids in Swaziland in Southern Africa about HIV Aids while coaching them rugby. It’s a wonderful charity led by Michael Collinson – take a look and get involved at www.skrum.org.