Six Nations: Jeremy Guscott Q&A
Among the topics making the headlines after the final round of the Six Nations are:
- Wales winning the Grand Slam with a gutsy win over France - can they beat the southern hemisphere teams?
- England's win over Ireland and whether interim coach Stuart Lancaster should get the job full-time
- Ireland's disappointing display in their defeat at Twickenham
- The future of coach Andy Robinson after Scotland lose to Italy to finish with the Wooden Spoon
Jerry will answer as many of your questions as possible each week but not every question submitted can be used. This week's answers appear below.
Hi Jeremy, seeing as everyone else is having their say on this question, who would make your Six Nations Team of the Tournament? And would it honestly be a good idea for Warren Gatland to take a year out to coach the Lions given the momentum he's built up with Wales? Glyn Thomas, Barry, Wales
This was my team that contributed to the overall one you might have seen in this blog on the sport website on Tuesday: Kearney, Bowe, Tuilagi, Fofana, North, Farrell, Phillips; Jenkins, Best, Jones, Gray, O'Connell, Lydiate, Warburton, Denton.
The WRU has already decided that if Gatland was selected as the Lions coach, he could take a sabbatical as required by the Lions management. I don't think it would affect Wales too adversely and could in fact benefit Gatland and Wales if he takes some time out to refresh himself. I'm sure if or when he leaves, he'll leave having handed over a strategic plan to his coaches and he will always be at the end of a telephone.
Short and simple, who is your player of the Six Nations? Adam, Wales
My player of the tournament was Dan Lydiate, I thought he was outstanding in every game he played.
After a great championship once again, I was wondering who has been your find of the Six Nations? Personally, I have been a big fan of David Denton, however I also believe Wesley Fofana is worth more than a mention. Chris
Denton has made a real impression, his attacking running was impressive. Fofana was unfortunate to be playing in such a negative French team but still managed to shine. Alex Corbisiero had a very good Six Nations, proving himself in the scrummage and around the field. Owen Farrell would have to be my rookie of the championship; he looked as though he'd been playing for years, his coolness - particularly when kicking - was that of a player who had 10 times his number of caps.
There is a clear gap emerging between Scotland & Italy at the bottom, and the other four nations, as evidenced by results over the past five seasons in the Six Nations. Surely it is time to allow Georgia & Romania into an expanded European competition, I don't think either team could have performed any worse than the two playing in Rome on Saturday? Simon, Scotland
I believe the Six Nations should for the time being remain as it is but I'm all for a second tier running to give the other nations more competition. Scotland and Italy didn't have great seasons but certainly Scotland should have beaten England in the first game and that would have made a difference, and Italy could have beaten England. From time to time there are teams that get clear like Wales but even they were nearly outdone by England. The competition is still a strong one and, in my view, very competitive [only in 2008, 2009 and 2010 has the Six Nations been won by more than a two-point winning margin].
Following a great Six Nations, there appears to be only one question left - next year, who do you think will top the table - England or Wales? Bill, England
Wow Bill, you're quick out of the blocks, there's so much rugby to be played between now and next season's Six Nations. Wales will remain the team to beat and England - depending on who is given the permanent head coach job - should be thereabouts. I still think Ireland have decent personnel but haven't clicked and Scotland and Italy will be close in some games. France appear to have a long way to go; Philippe Saint-Andre hasn't settled into his role and the team's performances reflect that.
Do you think Wales can progress and push on to become a true world power considering the last two Grand Slam sides took three steps back straight away? For the sake of the Lions and northern hemisphere rugby, I hope England are not the only team with victories over the big three come the end of the year. Mark Newell, England
What happens to Wales in Australia this summer is crucial to them making the next step in believing they can win the next World Cup. If they don't start beating Australia, New Zealand and South Africa either home or away, how can they truly believe they can win the World Cup?
After the dust settles on the Grand Slam we've got an exciting tour to Australia to look forward to. I think a series win is just slightly beyond us, but can you see Wales winning a Test down there? Hywel, Wales
Wales have every chance of a series win because they now have strength in depth and competition for places. Warren Gatland's job becomes a little harder, he now has selection problems and has to pick the right team.
With Wales securing their third Grand Slam in eight years, and in that time Ireland and France also winning Grand Slams, do you think the Grand Slam is being devalued or getting easier to achieve? Simon, England
I don't think the Grand Slam is being devalued at all; it's still incredibly hard to achieve. Take this season. It could have been different had a couple of decisions not gone Wales' way, but they did, they were the best team and deserved the Slam.
As you'd expect, I'm pleased with the England performances over the Six Nations, I feel that there are clear indicators of improvement in every area of play. I also believe that the RFU need to give Stuart Lancaster (who I'd never heard of before his appointment) control of the team. However, I'm concerned that if he is appointed, the RFU will not give him as free a rein as would be the case in a more high-profile appointment. What would your advice be to Stuart Lancaster in terms of the conditions that would or would not be acceptable to allow the team's further development? Anthony Bowen, England
I think anyone taking on the role of head coach of any team should do it on their terms and not be given any baggage. Lancaster has done everything so far his way and if he's given the job it should continue.
With everyone hopeful of Stuart Lancaster securing the full-time head coach role, do you not think it would be undermining him massively to bring in someone in an advisory role such as Wayne Smith, Nick Mallett or Eddie O'Sullivan? Sam Taylor, UK
I believe Lancaster would like to continue the job he's been doing successfully so far without any outside interference. However, should he feel he might need more international experience alongside him, then I'm sure he'll suggest that if he got the job.
With England's defence standing firm to pretty much everything this Six Nations, do you think England will be in talks with Saracens to try and secure Andy Farrell for the future? Personally I really think this is the set-up to take England forward but I would make one change, and that would be to bring in a specific attacking coach. What are your thoughts? Shane, England
I think it would take a huge amount of persuasion to get Farrell to continue; he's pretty much said he wants to go back and Saracens have made it very clear they want him back. As far as being an attacking coach, towards the end of the tournament England were getting better in that area and someone like Farrell, with rugby league experience, should be just as adept in attack as defence.
I'm pretty pleased with England's showing in the Six Nations and think Stuart Lancaster's policy of starting a new four-year cycle with a young team - building to 2015 - is spot on. My one real worry is, that for England to progress, they need more creativity in midfield. I don't feel that Manu Tuilagi or Brad Barritt can really unlock a defence like a Brian O'Driscoll or a Quade Cooper. Who do you think England can look to as a genuine playmaking centre? Dan Steele, England
I think you're being a little picky; it is what it is, we can't turn players into something they're not or never can be. Tuilagi and Barritt did a decent job, they're pretty solid in defence and learning more in attack. Tuilagi is certainly a big threat in that area. Not everyone is an O'Driscoll.
I fear for Irish rugby but I'm also a little confused by it. Haven't their provincial sides been playing brilliantly? However, when the national side comes together they've appeared to lack belief and a bit of passion. I fear for them because I think their squad is getting fairly old; Ireland can no longer depend on O'Driscoll, O'Connell, O'Gara, D'Arcy and co. I think Declan Kidney should seriously consider a major overhaul of players, like the English squad, and see what they've managed to achieve... Max Nevile, England
Kidney will have to make that move and so far indications are he's happy to play it safe. Munster, Leinster and Ulster have had cracking seasons and it was a surprise to me that they didn't have a bigger impact in the Six Nations.
As an Englishman who had a short spell of being a coach to a Scottish club team, it is easy to have some sympathy with Andy Robinson. The platitudes from the players when interviewed will not fully reflect the undercurrents of criticism, mainly caused by being the Englishman in charge. When push comes to shove, the old enemy will never win. To me it is obvious that he has worked wonders with limited resources; do you think he will be able to survive another season after winning only the Wooden Spoon? John Ponting, England
Quite simply, for me the players have under-performed by a large margin. Mistakes are made by players on the field; coaches can't make those decisions for them in a game, but they can prepare them in the best way and that's what I understand Robinson has done.
I don't think the Lions are going to get Warren Gatland, I think he wants to ensure a Welsh dynasty. Who will be Lions coach? Chris, Wales
I think you might be wrong on this one. Gatland's been involved in a Lions tour before [in 2009] and you got the impression he really enjoyed it. If he gets offered the job, I'm sure he will take it.
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