Lewis Moody Six Nations 2014 comment: Murrayfield will be just as intimidating as Paris but if England play the quick-ball game again they'll win back Calcutta Cup

The way England came back into the game in Paris after a poor start augurs well for Stuart Lancaster's team

If the new boys thought Paris was tough, they might have to revise that opinion after a first visit to the Scottish capital. I never won once at Murrayfield in four attempts. That is how difficult a place it is to go for English teams.

It is always a special game, arguably the one the Scots look forward to most. They throw the weight of history at it, invoking the great battles – Bannockburn etc – calling on deep resources and passion. It starts before the game, just wandering around town. You get a lot of scowls and comments from members of the public, having a dig at the England team. It is a very intimidating place in that sense.

Don't read too much into recent results. We know that Scottish rugby is not without its problems. Given the structural difficulties it has relating to the professional game, with only two regional sides, Glasgow and Edinburgh, from which to create the entire Scottish national side, it is a wonder they manage to put out the quality of teams they do.

The Scots certainly need to take a long, hard look at the professional set-up and how they get more people playing a game that a generation ago was so strong north of the border. But that is for another day. They still have some tough, hard characters, like my old Leicester colleague Jim Hamilton. David Denton is a big, abrasive ball carrier in the back row. Sean Maitland is a loss and there is no Tim Visser, two world-class wide men. But they still have individuals, like Stuart Hogg, who are capable of making things uncomfortable for England.


This is the Calcutta Cup, a trophy Scotland will not surrender without a heck of a fight, but I see this as a win for England. The way they came back into the game in Paris after the poor start augurs well for Stuart Lancaster's team. It was a real eye-opener for the three young lads that came into the team, and I'm pleased England have stuck with the same side. Jack Nowell had a few wobbly moments in the first half, but showed real promise towards the end of the game, particularly with ball in hand.

Luther Burrell was finding his feet a little early on but made some good line breaks and took his try really well. Jonny May was off after five minutes, so it is good to see him get another chance. And this will be another steep learning curve.

There was much to commend England's display in Paris, bar that first 20-minute nightmare. Everything that could go wrong did, a bit like Peyton Manning in the Super Bowl when the ball snapped over his head. France's first kick-off was missed by Joe Launchbury and hit Nowell, then bounced forward. It got worse from there.

But ultimately England were able to regroup and refocus, which is a very difficult thing to do in Paris. They controlled territory and possession after that and looked impressive doing so. The manner in which they came out in the second half was hugely encouraging when you look at the bigger picture and forward to next year's World Cup.

A few, like Danny Care, Dylan Hartley and Owen Farrell, had points to prove. The ambition they showed, Care and Hartley in particular, just pounding into that French line, taking the ball at full tilt time after time, made it a brilliant spectacle. The fans love it when the boys put themselves on the line like that, showing intent and desire. The result was snatched away from them but they will learn from that.

If any side is to be successful then you have to do the basics well, which is winning your line-outs, scrums, all the elements that allow you to retain the ball and use it. For the majority of the game England did that, creating opportunities for the backs to get into the game. Lancaster and the coaching staff talk a lot about speeding into the collision. You saw a lot of that in the second half when some of the running was just outstanding, getting England beyond the gain line.

That creates quick ball and that is what you want if you are trying to develop an expansive game. Quick ball does not allow defences to settle, and you can exploit space with dangerous runners like Care, Nowell and Burrell. It was great to see England take speed into the contact like that, keeping the defences honest and getting the ball into the wide areas that Lancaster's team are so desperate to exploit.

Farrell excelled, taking the ball hard to the line, holding it up late, taking the hit before offloading to Billy Vunipola and others to run into space. Care was equally impressive, creating confusion and anxiety in the opposition defence. They dovetailed really well together, which is so important.

Lancaster came in for a bit of stick over the substitutions, but I don't blame him for the changes he made. The ball was in play for around 46 minutes, which is about 10 minutes longer than normal. The boys were falling with cramp all over the place. England's bench is one of the team's strengths. I can't imagine any opposition will be thrilled to see the likes of Ben Morgan, Tom Youngs and Maku Vunipola trotting on to the pitch.

Defeat is not the end of England's championship hopes by any means. Wales will look at their performance against Italy and say they had a poor day at the office. But they are strengthened by the return of Sam Warburton and I would take them to edge the game in Dublin, but I don't say that with great confidence. France are obvious contenders to take the Six Nations after the win against England, but they have to maintain their consistency, which is one thing they don't always manage to do.

It is so difficult to predict who will prevail at this stage. France, England, Wales and Ireland all had indifferent periods in the opening round of matches. Things will be clearer after this weekend. The competition is still there for England to win.

They have to take the disappointment of that result in Paris and put it into each performance. After Scotland they have Ireland and Wales at Twickenham, and will want to make the most of home advantage.

I know England are hungry for silverware after finishing second in each of the last two years, and they showed in Paris what can be achieved when they put everything together.

Lewis Moody is a Land Rover HITZ ambassador. Land Rover are a partner of HITZ, a Premiership Rugby programme which tackles some of the greatest challenges  facing young people today. jaguarlandrover.com/hitz/


New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all