Wales, for their part, need to hide their bootlaces, a tournament that began and ended with a whimper and will leave the entire rugby nation sleeping with a rock under the mattress for weeks to come. Fifth, first and fifth in their last three Six Nations not only beggars belief but rational explanation and Dan Biggar’s dark, almost apocalyptic post-match interview on Saturday raised uncomfortable questions that’ll take some answering. Not for the first time, his blistering honesty did him huge credit.
Scotland, too, are in a pit. Indiscipline on the pitch invariably suggests some sort of disconnection but indiscipline off it raises rather more than just a suggestion; indeed, your skipper and a clutch of senior players defying curfews, coaches and the team’s culture might almost be ranked as mutinous. Whatever’s going on, Test rugby’s most frustrating fifteen just aren’t adding up right now and the arithmetic will take some working out.
According to the RFU, England are making ‘solid progress’ via a ‘clear strategy’. An almost Johnsonian soundbite given Eddie Jones’ team finished 11 points shy of second place
No such worries for England, though, who, according to the RFU, are making ‘solid progress’ via a ‘clear strategy’, an almost Johnsonian soundbite given Eddie Jones’ team finished 11 points shy of second place and it was nothing more than points difference that kept them above the waterline. Then again, when your blazer is intractably snagged on Eddie’s gatepost, room for manoeuvre is – perforce – limited.
The tap rooms of England will be somewhat less sanguine. ‘Jam tomorrow’, again, reeks of redundant Toryism, the more so when you’re the fattest cat on the rugby planet; factor in too that the top two teams in the table – by an indecent margin – owe much of their pre-eminence to a couple of blokes from Wigan. Eddie Jones’ players may sing his praises to the poets of the press box – and precisely what else would you expect them to say – but the Head Coach appears to have lost not only too many games but the dressing room of public opinion.
Indeed, if you’re talking about ‘solid progess’ and ‘a ‘clear strategy’, you’re surely talking Ireland who ride out of the tournament with swollen saddlebags, not least some well-earned tin; indeed, if you beat every other Home Union’s backside with a bonus point, then a Triple Crown is indisputably yours. And yet – and yet – the Irish will perhaps wonder what might have been had they got off the bus ten minutes earlier in Paris. Regrets? There are always a few.