END OF TERM REPORT ON THE FIVE NATIONS

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England

Scotland

France

Ireland

Results

Won 4 Drawn 0 Lost 0

Points for: 98 against: 39

Tries (9): T Underwood 3, R Underwood 2, Clarke, Carling, Guscott, Ubogu

Top points scorer: Andrew 53

21 Jan Ireland 8 20

4 Feb 31 France 10

18 Feb Wales 9 23

18 Mar 24 Scotland 12

1994 (2nd): W 3 D 0 L 1 F 60 A 49

Won 3 Drawn 0 Lost 1

Points for: 87 against: 71

Tries (6): Cronin, G Hastings, Hilton, Joiner, Peters,Townsend

Top points scorer: G Hastings 56

4 Feb Scotland 26 Ireland 13

18 Feb France 21 Scotland 23

4 Mar Scotland 26 Wales 13

18 Mar 24 Scotland 12

1994 (5th): W 0 D 1 L 3 F 38 A 70

Won 2 Drawn 0 Lost 2

Points for: 77 against: 70

Tries (10): Saint-Andr (4), N'Tamack (2), Cecillon, Delaigue, Sadourny, Viars

Top points scorer: St-Andr 20

21 Jan France 21 Wales 9

4 Feb 31 France 10

18 Feb France 21 Scotland 23

4 Mar Ireland 7 France 25

1994 (3rd): W 2 D 0 L 2 F 84 A 69

Won 1 Drawn 0 Lost 3

Points for: 44 against: 83

Tries (5): Mullin (2), Bell, Foley, Geoghegan

Top points scorer: Burke 17

21 Jan Ireland 8 20

4 Feb Scotland 26 Ireland 13

4 Mar Ireland 7 France 25

18 Mar Wales 12 Ireland 16

1994 (4th): W 1 D 1 L 2 F 49 A 70

Won 0 Drawn 0 Lost 4

Points for: 43 against: 86

Tries (1): R Jones

Top points scorer: Jenkins 38

21 Jan France 21 Wales 9

18 Feb Wales 9 23

4 Mar Scotland 26 Wales 13

18 Mar Wales 12 Ireland 24

1994 (1st): W 3 D 0 L 1 F 78 A 51

High moment

Tony Underwood's second try against France: a masterpiece combining backs and forwards starting behind a scrum, the ball moving from Richards to Rodber to Catt who came thundering up the blind side and put Underwood through in the corner.

Gavin Hastings's match-winning try against France. "I told them we needed to score under the posts," said Hastings - Gregor Townsend (above) duly gave a back-handed pass to Hastings speeding to his chosen spot.

Saint-Andr's second try against Scotland. The French captain fielded a loose cross-kick from Townsend, neatly made room for Sadourny to take on the ball, and then came up on the outside to receive the scoring pass. It wasn't a try from the end of the world, but it should have sealed the game.

Brendan Mullin's try against Wales which effectively saved Ireland from the wooden spoon. It came from a pass inside from Phil Danaher to Richard Wallace who hit the ball at pace, shot clear of the covering defence and launched Mullin into space to score.

Holding the lead against France for 20 minutes, against Scotland for half an hour and matching for 20 minutes. On each occasion, they were subsequently blown away.

Low point

Ill discipline and lack of awareness by the threequarters in the opener against Ireland: Carling, Bracken and Catt were all hauled down short of the line when there were players alongside them waiting for a pass.

The departure of the resurgent Damian Cronin midway through the France game with a shoulder injury which kept him out for the rest of the championship. Cronin, now living in France, had explained his comeback thus: "I lost some weight, probably because I now drink the excellent local wines and much less beer."

Olivier Merle's headbutt on Ricky Evans which caused the Welshman to fall awkwardly beneath a ruck and suffer a double fracture of the left leg. On Rugby Special, Geoff Cooke described Merle as a "hitman". Pierre Berbizier, the French coach, dropped Merle and threatened to sue Cooke.

Losing their captain, Michael Bradley, for the opening match against when he pulled out following the death of his new-born son. A tragic start to the Irish campaign.

Dismissal of John Davies, the Welsh tight-head prop (left), in the match against . Davies became the fifth Welshman to be sent off in an international and received a 60-day ban.

Pluses

Mike Catt (left), adding an element in attack that the two previous Grand Slam sides lacked; having Carling back to his sharpest; improved quality of line-out possession; total self-assurance whenever they take the field.

The success of A team men at the higher level, particularly David Hilton and Eric Peters; the balance in the back row; the improvement of scrum-half Bryan Redpath; return to form of Craig Chalmers; steady growth in confidence in the midfield; successful transition from rigid rucking game to a more fluid game. And, of course, Big Gav.

Hard to find: a good, tight front five; the ability - still - to score from any part of the pitch; a level of discipline against that did not resemble "15 Eric Cantonas" (Brian Moore's words).

Improvements came individually rather than collectively: Tony Foley, Gabriel Fulcher and Jonathan Bell all showed promise. Mullin (above) was a welcome return to the backs.

Very few. Only Robert Jones shone. Neil Jenkins, as ever, was masterful with the boot - but was criticised for anything he did with his head or his hands.

Minuses

Kyran Bracken: possibly misjudged in his attempt to reconstruct his pass as his whole game appears to have been affected; still little evidence of the instinctive and unconventional in the threequarter line; total incompetence in all efforts to find a pair of shorts to fit Victor Ubogu.

Poor defence against Wales; the nagging suspicion that without Gavin Hastings (left), Scotland would still be back in the world of the wooden spoon. Were injury to strike Hastings...

No apparent gameplan; a number of players lost their form, particularly Laurent Cabannes, so much so that he was dropped by his club; weakness at half-back; considerable unrest in the side over attitudes to paying players. Worst of all,attempts to instill discipline appeared to shackle the nation's natural exuberance.

A hokey-cokey selection policy whereby youngsters were picked and then dropped. Burke was in, out and then in again; the hugely promising hooker, Keith Wood, was in and out, weakening a front row that had the makings of a very effective weapon. No idea of the best half-back combination.

No wit or invention; a pedestrian midfield which failed to feed the apparent strengths on the wings - though there were signs that Ieuan Evans is also below his best; a pack which lacked any real bite; far easier to score against than last season. Overriding impression that consistency in selection policy led to complacency on the field.

Comments

"If are to make a realistic challenge for the World Cup they will have to get a lot fitter and faster" Gregor Townsend

"They are not a great side yet but they are still on course for the World Cup ... They will have to play 20 times better than they did at Twickenham last Saturday" Geoff Cooke

"It was a disgrace and made you want to turn around and kick them" Brian Moore on Scotland's gameplan last week

"Moore's post-match comments were despicable ... We proved in Paris, we are capable of beating any team on the day. I don't think we can win the World Cup, though" Gavin Hastings

"After the rain always comes fine weather" Pierre Berb-izier after the Scottish defeat

"Emile N'Tamack (above) may become the next David Campese of world rugby"

Nick Farr-Jones

"We can do nothing about our height and our weight, but we must improve our individual and collective performances in the key areas" Mick Doyle, former Ireland coach

"The neutral observer might have been justified in asking for his money back" coach Gerry Murphy after the Wales game

"The state of Welsh rugby is depressing, the worst I`ve known in 15 years" Barry John

"Some of our strength seems to have deserted us" Robert Norster, Wales team manager

"We'll bounce back" Norster

World standing

Odds to win the World Cup have dropped, in two months, from

5-1 to third favourites at 3-1. Scotland's success in disrupting 's gameplan may bring relief to southern hemisphere sides who have been studying 's progress with considerable dismay.

Such success was totally unexpected - back in January you could have filled an old people's home with the number of ex-players queueing up to lambast their descendants. Odds to win the World Cup started at 33-1 but have dropped only to 25-1 which suggests that many still believe the Scottish revival little more than a trick of the light.

France's lot has plunged. Did they really win a 2-0 series in New Zealand against the All Blacks last summer? Odds to win the World Cup have lengthened from 5-1 to 8-1. Their potential, though, is still enormous.

No one gave Ireland much hope in the World Cup before the Five Nations began. Nothing has changed. In January, they were 50-1 to win in South Africa; that has not changed either.

From top place to bottom in the Five Nations - a disastrous season. Wales doesn't suffer whitewashes gladly and the knives are now out for coach Alan Davies (above). World Cup odds have lengthened from 33-1 to 50-1.

Comments